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Thursday, February 01, 2018

From The Scott-Boetticher Middling List


Decision At Sundown To Fill '57 Drive-In Lots

Budd Boetticher liked this less than some of his others with Randolph Scott. Was the star miscast? He's trapped in a barn for almost the whole thing, that not preferable for we who pay, but there had to be differentiation now and then for westerns done like monthly magazines. Decision At Sundown is still "head and holsters" above average run of Scotts. Beside his for Warners, it's even more a keeper, but would have been better had Burt Kennedy wielded the pen rather than credited Charles Lang, Jr. Kennedy said later that he was on hand to do fixes, which may explain portions being up to Tall T standard. How much did 1957 patronage recognize tiers of western quality? Given enough popcorn or drive-in distraction, would one R. Scott materially differ from another? Surely the team went proud for work so fine as these Columbias. I wonder what push Randy himself applied to upgrades. Support cast said his downtime was spent poring The Wall Street Journal, but Scott knew riches weren't earned with lame product. As producer, standards were his to maintain, despite good westerns drawing little better than average ones (exception: a High Noon with below-surface themes intelligencia could glom onto). The 50's didn't tender a more defeated hero than Scott's in Decision At Sundown, crowds and cars exiting in somber mode from an end bleak as the era gave them. It took some nerve to drop the curtain on a finish like this. Had sameness of TV westerns inspired Scott and team to dare something different?

6 Comments:

Blogger radiotelefonia said...

For comparison, I would love anything that producer Harry Joe Brown did with the original Ken Maynard silent westerns for First National, not the John Wayne remakes.

3:11 PM  
Blogger CanadianKen said...

Glad to see you honing in on this one. Even if "Decision at Sundown" isn't quite top tier Scott-Boetticher, it's not that far behind the best of them. Randolph Scott's always an arresting presence, especially when his character's seeking righteous vengeance. But the situation's different here; circumstances put a question mark on the righteousness of this particular crusade. And Bart Allison always seems a lot closer to cracking than the usual Scott hero. Toward the end of that marathon shootout at the stable, Bart's anguished and in denial. And the words he hurls out seem wrenched from a pretty deep place; they land with a wallop. Actor Scott taps into areas of emotional confusion and pain I've never seen him explore elsewhere. And he's magnificent.

8:30 PM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

RANDY IS GREAT! I would buy a ticket to WATCH him read The Wall Street Journal.

6:34 AM  
Blogger MikeD said...

At the Lone Pine Film Festival, they used to put out photo markers containing movie stills at the location where the still was shot. There was one marker by the "Ride Lonesome" opening containing a photo of the crew setting up a shot with James Best. Off to the side was Randolph Scott, sitting in a chair wearing his buckskin outfit, reading the WSJ.
Michael Dante told a story of when he was filming "Westbound", RS told him to take that salary and buy three shares of stock, IBM, Xerox and the other good one I don't remember. MD said he bought a dining room set instead.
"Decision at Sundown" was tough sledding for me. To me, those Lone Pine Randy's are the best. Did you notice the brick wall next to Andrew Duggan when he buys it is the same wall that Lee Marvin and his horse are leaning on in 'Cat Ballou'?
Finally, back in the mid-60's I sent to RS's home, asking for an autograph. He sent one back and I still have it!

8:24 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

That still of Scott reading the WSJ would sure be a great thing to have.

Nice to know that he honored autograph requests even after retirement.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Reg Hartt said...

Another one I would not have watched without this post to draw it to my attention. One of the most emotionally honest films I have ever seen. The ending was on the mark all the way. Thanks.

3:50 PM  

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