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|Index||28 reviews in total|
Excellent and funny story of Agry-town, a place where everything costs ten
dollars and a man can be hung for being on the right side of a fight -- but
the wrong side of the law. Hypocrisy and the essential weakness of human
nature are humorously juxtaposed with Scott and his friends' hardboiled
masculine ethic. Only the ending is a disappointment -- rushed and somewhat
confused. Lang's writing is good and very barbed but somewhat predictable
as the famous Ranown cycle winds down with this film.
The Pacific Film Archive here in Berkeley CA has been showing these films for the last few years, and in 2000 I and my mother had the chance to meet the director, the very charming, funny, and intelligent Bud Boetticher, and also the people who are restoring these movies for Columbia. They're doing a wonderful job, and hopefully soon we'll all be able to enjoy restored, less yellowed prints of these classic films (especially the incredible "Seven Men from Now") on DVD. Put any pressure you can on Columbia, folks, let them know you want to see these films on DVD, because the restoration is already well underway -- we just need to let them know there's an audience out there!
Perhaps the only really unjustified feature of this Western is the title.
They should have kept the original, "The name's Buchanan" - a line which
crops up sufficiently often in the first five minutes to verge on becoming
catchphrase for the title character.
One thing Buchanan *doesn't* do is ride alone. For a cowboy hero -
particularly one played by Randolph Scott! - he's an unusually cheerful and
sociable type, who picks up friends and allies almost everywhere he
I don't believe I've ever seen Randolph Scott smile so much in all the rest
of his films put together - and it has much the same shock value as a grin
on the face of Leonard Nimoy.
But it's mainly the humour that sets this film apart from a hundred other unpretentious B-Westerns. The plot twists don't hurt, either. This slender piece bears as many stings in the tail as the final chapters of a Hercule Poirot mystery. Tables are turned by one side upon the other so often that it verges upon the ridiculous; a point milked to wry appreciation by the script. The other interesting point is that Buchanan himself has little influence over the course of events. He merely (albeit adroitly) rides the tide, as the bickering Agry brothers provide the main engine for the plot. This film is far less of a one-man star vehicle than many Westerns of its era. To a degree, it might even be suspected of spoofing the genre.
I spotted only one technical blooper: as the sheriff(?) leaves the jail after demanding the keys, the far side of the street, for one brief aberrant moment, appears to consist of red-brick houses with paned-glass windows! Young de la Vega's horse really is a beautiful animal, on the other hand - the beast fully bears out the script's claim that the de la Vega horses are some of the best-bred in the country. Judging by the stunts, it was also presumably a trained performer - I wonder what its 'day job' was? :-)
To summarise: a cheerful, swift-moving Western with a touch of dry humour that helps it to stand out among a host of other B-movies. If you've watched 'Unforgiven' too many times, until your guts feel like treacle - if you can't take one more coarse joke from 'Blazing Saddles' - then try 'Buchanan' for a breath of fresh air, and watch Randolph Scott for once in his life having fun!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Burt Kennedy and Charles Lang were Boetticher's favorite writers. Here is Lang's turn, adapting a novel by Jonas Ward. Buchanan rides into Agry Town, where he meets the Agry brothers and also the son of Simon Agry, Roy who ends up getting killed. It is hard to conceive a more despicable, corrupt, disloyal family with no principles at all. Craig Stevens is Carbo, who seems to have more brains than the brothers and is a kind of adviser to Judge Simon Agry. Lew Agry, the sheriff is the meanest of the lot, but one of the guys that helps him, called Pecos Hill is not so bad and he feels friendly in relation to Buchanan because they both come from the west of Texas. Amos Agry is the brother with no brains and he is like a Ping Pong ball between Simon and Lew. One of the best moments of the film is tragically funny: there are two groups of people shooting at each other and a saddlebag full of money between them. If one goes to pick up the saddlebag, whichever side he will run with the bag, the other side will shoot him, it is a no win situation. A fast moving, highly enjoyable western with a very good story and Randolph Scott at his best.
Hilarious low-budget western, really more of a comedy than a western. This came midway through the excellent series of westerns directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, and this time around everyone involved seemed to take a breather and just have fun with the story elements. All the westerns are humorous, but not as much as this one. Burt Kennedy, who wrote the best scripts in the series, rewrote this one, uncredited. The picture is best appreciated if you first see THE TALL T, SEVEN MEN FROM NOW, RIDE LONESOME, and COMANCHE STATION.
Making his way home to Texas, Tom Buchanan stops off at the little town
of Agry for rest and refreshments. Quickly finding that the town is run
by the family Agry itself, Buchanan falls foul of one of them straight
away. His problems are further compounded when he steps in to stop a
young Mexican from taking a beating. Something that finds him on the
end of a rope with things looking rather grim.
How you fare with Buchanan Rides Alone may depend on how many (if any) Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott collaborations you have seen prior. For this adaptation of Jonas Ward's novel "The Name's Buchanan" is lighter in tone than their other well regarded pieces. Not to decry this as a standalone picture of course, but although it's part of the "Ranown" cycle, it's a long way from the more "Adult Western" richness of The Tall T, Ride Lonesome and Comanche Station for example. Conversely the other way is also true, if this is the first one you sample from the duo, and you enjoy it, well you may not take to the deeper themed, harsher other films in their cannon.
Buchanan Rides Alone gets in a does a job without any fuss or boring filler play. Randolph Scott as Buchanan clearly is enjoying adding a bit of comic zip to proceedings, with Boetticher evidently happy to keep things smooth for the one hour and twenty minutes running time. Fine support comes from Barry Kelley, Tol Avery and the irrepressible L.Q. Jones, whilst Lucien Ballard was the obvious and right choice to photograph the Old Tuscon location. Not one to take too seriously, but enough drama to keep one interested, and certainly one that gives notice to what a fine and undervalued performer Randy Scott was. 6.5/10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Randolph Scott is heading to West Texas when he happens to pass through
a horrible town. The place is mostly run by a single family and the
sheriff is as corrupt as they come. Well, despite this, Scott tries to
accept it all in good humor and put up with it--after all, he'll only
be there one night. It's hard, though, as the son of the town's boss is
a drunk who has vowed to kill Scott for no particular reason.
Surprisingly, someone else ends up killing this angry drunk before
Scott even has to worry about this. However, no matter how much he
tries, the sheriff and his crooked friends are determined to rob Scott
blind and kill him. So when the murder of the boss' son does occur,
even though it's obvious that Scott wasn't involved, the sheriff is
bent on hanging him. And, when Scott is acquitted, the sheriff robs him
and "escorts" him out of town--to be killed. Scott miraculously
survives and is determined to get back to this hellish town and make
them pay (apparently he took the whole "rob him and kill him" thing
While this is a very simple idea for a film, once again the combination of Budd Boetticher and Randolph Scott results in a film that is so much more than what you'd expect with the material they were given. It isn't that it's a bad script, it's very good, but due to the excellent direction and the great tough but decent character Scott once again plays, it transcends the genre. In a genre that usually included pointless Indian fights, two idiots shooting it out on main street and the other typical clichés, this one manages to be different...and a lot better.
By the way, one reviewer referred to this as a film filled with humor. I sure didn't see anything funny in this film and wonder if perhaps they are thinking about some other movie.
High quality Boetticher western that succeeds on almost every front.
Scott is first class, less taciturn than usual and displaying a gift for wry humour not always evident in his performances. The supporting cast is well above average and Barry Kelley, Tol Avery and Peter Whitney, in particular, are all excellent, playing their parts to near perfection.
The scenery, both in and out of the town is wonderfully evocative - cacti to die for! - the guitar music is hauntingly beautiful and the colours are bright and pleasing.
If I have a criticism at all, it is that the plot is a little too convoluted - too many twists and counter twists - but, in the face of so much that is good, this is but a minor quibble.
Incidentally, the only women in the production have such tiny roles, they are not even named in the cast list. So no-one "gets the girl" this time round!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Usually in these Ranowned westerns Scott really DOES ride alone, but he
doesn't here. Yes, he's just passing through town, but after his
initial encounter with the hostile residents he's always accompanied by
someone else. On the whole it's barely above the routine. Scott could
almost have been replaced by Audie Murphy. There is a tense shoot out
at the end, but before that we have several gangs of mutually
antagonistic thugs running from place to place in Agry Town. Lew is
looking for Amos, who is looking for Simon, who is looking for Roy.
It's like a merry-go-round with a discordant calliope.
Ordinarily, the Boetticher/Scott movies were as successful as their villains were colorful. (Lee Marvin, sighting down his six-shooter while holding it sideways and saying, "Pow." Pernell Roberts advising his companero who is ogling Karen Steele's bosom, "I said look at her eyes.") In this one there is no amusing heavy but the movie is as good as most of the others because the humor comes as much from Scott himself as from anyone else. I must say I almost enjoy it more when he's the glum, determined spoilsport -- but, okay. "What're we gonna do now, Buchanan?" someone asks him. And he comes up with something like, "Foist we take care of the hawses. Then I -- I don't know!", and he slouches offscreen during a dissolve. Nothing is to be taken too seriously. If for no other reason, we are tipped off to this by Scott's unusual hat. It's not his usual broad-brimmed washed-out coronet, but a blue felt thing with a silly narrow brim that resembles some sort of mutated 1940 fedora.
And it's a good thing he's given funny lines because the heavies aren't funny at all, or remarkable in the slightest way. The Boss Tweed of Agry Town is bland and inoffensive, like a Canadian. His pudgy nondescript face is made for radio. The cheerful, equally corrupt sheriff is a stock part and played without wit. There are one or two of those noble Mexicans who always keep their word. No women except Boss Tweed's housekeeper -- named, not inappropriately, "Nacho." Craig Stevens has the wardrobe and the looks of a good heavy but doesn't have much screen time and is basically a Canadian. L. Q. Jones has an amusing part. He figures in one of those signature Boetticher scenes -- the heavy burying somebody in a scruffy part of the desert. I don't know how Boetticher managed to squeeze so many of them in. Jones has just had a minor disagreement with a dislikable partner and shot him twice. Unable to bury him in the waterlogged sand, he plops the body on the fork of a tree, removes his own hat, and says a few words over the mortal remains. Words like, "Lew, you always was a good guy. But you did have your faults. Like cheatin' at stud. And emptyin' my pockets when I was drunk."
Boetticher was a most unusual guy. He spent much of his career on a kind of Hollywood vision quest searching for enlightenment. At one point he found himself alone and broke in Mexico, scrounging money for a bowl of beans. It's one thing to do that in your teens or 20s. It's a kind of adventure in self-testing then. But to find yourself in that position, as Boetticher did, when you're in your 40s and have no resources to fall back on is an experience that makes for a good deal of nervousness in any normal human being. Boetticher may have been a minor artist, but he was a respectable one.
I'm familiar with Scott's work and am a fan. This film doesn't quite fit in with films like The Tall T, Ride Lonesome, Decision at Sundown etc. Scott shares the screen with lots of supporting characters- LQ Jones, Craig Stevens and all the Agry men. The film opens with Scott happily heading to West Texas via Agry after a profitable Mexican run. He just wants food, probably something of a binding nature and drink. What no women? Only one woman here of interest- Barbara James uncredited as Nina the judge's Mexican housekeeper. Scott has barely any interaction with any females-Jennifer Holiday. Our Scott stands for loyalty, bravery, a fair fight, love of your belt, gun and Texas. I'll give him that. There is no compelling villain here as the Agry's are a bunch of double dealing B movie bumblers. Amos Agry reminds me of a young Andy Devine. Scott is good as a very relaxed murder defendant in a back barroom courtroom. This flick therefore falls toward the lower rung of the RS canon IMHO. I'd see it again, but I'd be riding lonesome.
Randolph Scott once claimed a certain club that refused membership to
actors should let him since he had 50 movies to prove he wasn't an
He was being terribly modest.
Watching "Buchanan Rides Alone" one realizes he was a very good actor.
Critics say his best performances came with direction by Budd Boetticher and "Buchanan Rides Alone" stands as evidence for that belief.
In fact, the entire cast gives great performances.
One of the attractions of this film is that there are so many strong characters, so many individual parts very well played by great actors.
Far too many of these great actors did not become famous, but they certainly deserved to.
This is a classic.
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