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Decision at Sundown
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23 out of 25 people found the following review useful:

cowboys also have self-respect

Author: The Big Combo
19 February 2004

This one differs from the other Scott-Boetticher westerns as the action is transferred to an urban setting. In `Decision…', Scott's usual ambiguity is on the edge of plain craze and self destruction, his hero qualities lowered, the character's failures pretty much on the open. In this fable about the winning or recovery of Self Respect, he's the most spitted type of the film, in opposition to the bad guy, who remains unchanged despite his moral contradictions (at one point he admits to the prostitute that he's afraid, as Scott character does at one point or another in every other film of the saga). Boetticher is a master of understatement, a craftsman with an ascetic economy. Every shot is right; every cut contributes to the progress of narration. We perceive the performers' inner thoughts so they can talk about something else. The philosophic exchanges, a trademark of the director, take place not with a round of coffee by the fire but inside the saloon (that looks like a Temple, while the church is presented as a saloon), or in the restaurant, but Scott doesn't take part. He's the sort character that seems to carry unwarily a sort of magnetism, a quality which makes everybody deposit on him their own fears and expectations. A mundane redemptive figure seen on later films, like the motorcycle guy in `Rumble Fish'. All the characters are able to verbalize and unveil the hero's conscience, everybody but the hero himself, tragically crusaded on a meaningless task.

`Decision…' anticipates the enclosure of `Rio Bravo', and other later westerns where the hero must overcome a tormented past, purify himself in order to purify a corrupted environment. Randolph Scott's hard features convey the primitivism of the Boetticher hero perfectly; here we discover a certain apish side of his face, something that the director's camera recognizes and photographs to emphasize his storytelling. Even if not written by usual collaborator Burt Kennedy, one of the cowboys still say the polite `I'm obliged', and as in every other Boetticher western, Mexicans are played by real Mexicanos.

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16 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

Decision or Decisions at Sundown?

Author: krorie from Van Buren, Arkansas
10 March 2006

This often ignored Randy Scott western, directed by Budd Boetticher, plays almost as a dark comedy at times, though that is not the intent of the director or the writers. Scott, fine actor he was, makes every line count, enunciating effectively for full impact. He and his long-time pal--it's hinted they served together in the Confederacy during the Civil War--meet up just outside a town appropriately named Sundown. Bart Allison (Randy Scott) points his rifle at the stagecoach drivers after forcing them to let him off and tells them to get going because he and his friend Sam (Noah Beery Jr.), who just showed up to give him his horse, are headed a different direction. No sooner do they reach Sundown than they make enemies and friends by letting it be known that they do not like the groom in a wedding that's about to take place. When asked by the justice of the peace if anyone has a reason why the wedding shouldn't take place, Allison warns the groom that he is going to kill him. Then all Hell breaks loose. Allison and Sam run to the livery stable and hold up there for a large part of the movie. In the process Allison learns more than he wants to know about his deceased wife whose death he blames on the erstwhile groom.

The groom Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll) controls Sundown and the law. John Carroll was sort of a poor man's Clark Gable. Usually his acting was somewhat mediocre but when given the right part he could make it shine. One of his best roles was in the B western "Old Los Angeles" starring Wild Bill Elliott where he played a two-faced gunslinger who wormed his way to the top. Carroll does a topnotch job in "Decision at Sundown" in particular toward the end when he's determined to face Allison rather than be run out of town. The cast, made up of many film veterans such as Bob Steele, John Litel (Nancy Drew's father), Ray Teal, and Guy Wilkerson, makes a good showing. Karen Steele, who plays the frustrated bride, turns in a good performance, especially when she confronts Allison in the livery stable.

The title "Decision at Sundown" is a bit misleading. Really it should be "Decisions at Sundown," because the crux of the story centers on the denizens of the little community making their on decisions rather than be at the mercy of Tate Kimbrough and his henchmen. Yet even Kimbrough must make a momentous decision. At times the decisions made are deadly ones, such as when Sam decides to tell Allison the truth about his wife. THE decision of the title refers to Allison's. Or is it indecision? That depends on how the viewer interprets Allison's motives and moves. What he finally decides is probably the only way out for him. The best decisions are made by the citizens of Sundown. Allison and Sam serve merely as catalysts

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

The Day Bart Allison Came To Sundown

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
5 July 2007

This particular Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott collaboration finds Scott as the meanest he ever was on the screen. At least since Coroner Creek where he played a similarly driven man on a vengeance quest against a man who killed his bride to be.

It's worse in Decision at Sundown. A few years earlier when Scott was away at war John Carroll took up with Scott's late wife. Now Randy with sidekick Noah Beery, Jr. has come into the town of Sundown looking to kill Carroll who has moved there and essentially taken over with his bought and paid for sheriff Andrew Duggan. Carroll by no coincidence I'm sure is getting married to Karen Steele that day, the daughter of a local rancher John Litel much to the dismay of Carroll's long time mistress Valerie French.

Scott interrupts the wedding and then he and Beery are trapped in a barn. While all this is going on a lot of the townsfolk who have let Carroll and his bully boys run roughshod over them start reexamining what's happened to their town.

Decision at Sundown shows Randolph Scott as the ugliest he ever was on the screen. He's a pretty mean hero in Coroner Creek as Chris Danning. But his character of Bart Allison in this film makes Danning look like a Boy Scout.

I can't say any more, you'll just have to see the rather unusual ending in this film and how it works out for Scott and the rest of the town of Sundown.

Let's just say he changed everyone's life, but his own.

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12 out of 14 people found the following review useful:

They wont forget the day Bart Allison came to town.

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
8 February 2009

Bart Allison and Sam, his trusty companion, ride into Sundown looking for a guy named Tate Kimbrough. It appears that Kimbrough had a dalliance with Allison's wife some years earlier, an affair that led to the suicide of the erstwhile Mrs Allison. With revenge and hatred eating away at him, Allison will not rest until he gets his man, but his very being here in Sundown will be the catalyst for not only himself, but also every other resident of this dusky town.

Randolph Scott {Bart Allison} and director Budd Boetticher made seven very interesting, and intelligent Westerns together, each man seemingly using each one as a muse of sorts. This particular entry on their wonderful resume's is a fine testament to their winning formula, because Decision At Sundown offers up something different outside of your standard Western fare. The plot structure is for sure very basic, the man out for revenge, and the town in the grip of less than honourable men, but here our main protagonist really isn't thinking with his head. He is driven by rage and an affair of the heart, he in fact doesn't care if he lives or dies, just as long as he gets his man!. Also of interest is the effect on the town of Sundown that Allison has, it certainly lent me to think about some so called supernatural Westerns that would surface later on down the line, whilst the ending here doesn't resort to any sort of cop out formula's, it's poignant and begs for a further train of thought.

Scott is first rate as Allison, grey hair personifying the wisdom that he has lost due to his blind thirst for revenge, with a devilment glint evident in both of his eyes. Scott does an excellent line in rage and grief stricken acting, so no doubt in my mind that Randy Scott was a wonderful actor in this splendid of Western genres. Backing Scott up is Noah Beery Jr {Sam} and John Archer as Dr. John Storrow, but of the rest of the cast I personally couldn't lend too much praise for, with the main negative of note being that the villains of the piece barely get out of grumpy only territory, John Carroll {Kimbrough} and Andrew Duggan as crooked Sheriff Swede Hansen really should have gone for a more twirling moustache type villainy than the underplayed ones we actually get.

But underplayed villains be damned, this is still a hugely enjoyable picture, and one that definitely holds up on a repeat viewing. 7/10

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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Good Boetticher western where Scott is the ugly hero.

Author: alexandre michel liberman (tmwest) from S. Paulo, Brazil
19 June 2005

Randolph Scott in this film is a man obsessed with revenge. He is the ugly hero and even his loyal sidekick Noah Beery Jr. gets fed up with his obsession. At the same time his unjust cause will make him free the town from a bully (John Carrol)and his gang. It will also prevent a woman (Karen Steele) from making a mistake. For the town he will become a hero but he will hate himself for what he has done. We can compare him with James Stewart in Anthony Mann's "The Naked Spur", which was also an ugly hero. Boetticher knew how to bring out the best of Randolph Scott.He was also great in staging very well the shootouts, as he does here. Even though he was more known for working with Burt Kennedy, he thought Charles Lang, who wrote the screenplay was just as good, as mentioned in his book "When in Disgrace".

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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:

Scott returns in another solid western

Author: funkyfry from Oakland CA
9 October 2002

Nice low-budget western with a script that's good by B-western standards, but not quite as good as the ones Kennedy cooked up for director Boetticher. This one has Scott as his usual character, seeking vengeance, but includes the twist that his vengeance turns out to be, in reality, meaningless. Good supporting performances, but the action isn't as convincing as in some of the other Ranown films -- although I did really like the "Spanish" getting stuck in his arm with a hay hook. Gruesome and suspenseful.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Very Good

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
14 November 2008

Decision at Sundown (1957)

*** 1/2 (out of 4)

After the suicide of his wife, Bart Allison (Randolph Scott) makes it his goal to hunt down and kill the man he feels responsible. He finds Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll) in the small town of Sundown where he owns the sheriff (Andrew Duggan) and has the town frightened. Not to mention he shows up just as Tate is about to be married. It seems these Boetticher/Scott films weren't overly successful or popular when first released but over the past few years their reputations have really grown. There are a couple twists here that happens at the end of the film, which probably wouldn't go over too well back in 1957 but today I think people will be able to enjoy these more. This is certainly a western by all means but it's also a lot deeper than that and I think that's the reason these films keep getting more popular. The character study that involves Bart, Tate and the entire town makes for some suspenseful scenes and a lot of stuff to think about when it comes to men trying to seek revenge. Boetticher's direction is masterful as he does a terrific job at building tension from the opening scenes all the way to the end. The majority of the film has Scott held up in a barn, which is perfect because it gives the film a chance to visit and see the supporting characters and learn how they're going to have a major impact on the ending. The performances are also excellent with Scott leading the way in a role that isn't your typical hero. An anti-hero might be better because he is playing a very ugly character that doesn't have much charm. The way Scott lets the character's pain run free makes this the best work I've seen from him. Duggan is terrific as the snake sheriff and we get strong supporting performances by Carroll, Karen Steele and Valerie French. Noah Beery, Jr. is also excellent in his role as Scott's friend. Again, I'm sure people could debate the twists at the end but I think the make the film a lot more memorable. We've seen countless western's involving revenge so to see one that isn't done in a standard fashion is very refreshing.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Reverse shotgun wedding

Author: jcohen1 from LI
5 December 2008

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Hey I'm not ashamed to admit I enjoy Scott's movies. This one is different from the rest. Here Scott's character Bart Allison is dead wrong in his core assumption about the man he hunts, one Tate Kimbrough. That role is played by John Carroll who is neither the typical villain nor merely a Clark Gable wannabe. The under-appreciated Noah Beery returns as dare I say Scott's sidekick. I don't recall another Scott film with Randy having a sidekick. The vivacious Karen Steele is here but as usual there is no hint of sexual tension between her and Scott during this her virgin performance in the Brown/Scott/Botteicher canon. Some minor ancillary highlights include Scott's incredibly cool leather jacket- reminds me of Paul Butterfield's in The Last Waltz and his lengthy foamy self- shave. According to Bob Boz Bells it was Colgate. The movie steals a little from High Noon, but which western made after 1952 doesn't? We get a lecture to the towns barfolk from Bart Allison about doing right and standing up. Also rare here Scott's refusal to have his whiskey paid for. Class to the glass.

Credit Scott for allowing Beery to get the best lines but no Beer. If you like The Tall T, Ride Lonesome, Comanche Station etc. then you'll make the right decision, to watch.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Slaves In Sundown

Author: LeonLouisRicci from United States
15 October 2012

Here is a Western that is far above the majority made in the 1950's, and man there were quite a number, that has as much to do about character, motivation, morality, and other deep concerns, not found in a typical trip to the nineteenth century with cowboys and outlaws.

In fact, this is one of those that forsakes the usual focus on the landscape and moves the action to indoors because we are going inside the minds of all the characters and there is nothing open about their thought process, until they make a decision to see themselves as they really were, slaves in Sundown.

There are many players and they all have a part in the drama and sometimes it is amazing that so much could be done in less than 90 minutes. There is much sermonizing and this tale of revenge and soul searching is, nonetheless, another in the highly entertaining and thought provoking films in the Boetticher-Scott stable. Although it seems smaller in comparison to some of the others, it is just as big, and it is just as expansive, only this time it opens the mind and sheds sunlight on the soul.

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5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Pretty good Western, but curious opening 20 minutes

Author: Marlburian from United Kingdom
15 March 2008

Lesser-known Randolph Scott Westerns occasionally find their way on to British TV, and this was one I hadn't seen before. It was generally good, but the opening sequences were curious. Bart Allison (Scott) is a passenger on a stagecoach and wants to get off in the middle of nowhere to meet up with his sidekick, Sam. Instead of asking the driver nicely, he threatens him with a gun; Britain's buses may not make unscheduled stops, but I'm sure there would have been no problem in the West! At least we get treated to some good facial expressions by Bart and the stagecoach crew after the former has fired his pistol to alert Sam; there's quite a timelag before he appears, during which Bart looks slightly apprehensive and the crew quizzical.

But then - talk about stacking the deck against himself! In town Bart confronts Tate Kimbrough surrounded by his heavies and has to flee from them and seek refuge in a building, which is then surrounded by the bad guys. How he finally extricates himself from the situation is reasonably plausible.

And thank goodness for a decent sidekick - no annoying grizzled old coot or comic Mexican here; Noah Beery does very well in the role.

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