Thursday 21 July 2011

Decision at Sundown (1957)

Budd Boetticher is known chiefly for a series of westerns he made with Randolph Scott in the late 50s and early 60s which transcended the standard western formulae and dared to explore themes of revenge, self-delusion and isolation rather than merely depicting them.  DECISION AT SUNDOWN is typical of that cycle in that it takes a tired plot - man arrives in town seeking revenge - and keeps it simmering away until what's left is a very rich concentration.  It's unusual in that once Bart Allison (Scott) arrives in Sundown, the action pretty much stops; he holes up in a stable with his buddy Sam (Noah Beery Jr) and waits for the villain to come to him.  Moreover, the villain is more than a one-dimensional pantomime villain - he's a human being, with his own fears, doubts and desires.  Scott, as the nominal hero, is stoical but impassive, refusing to allow any doubt into his mind until it's too late.  Boetticher was really deconstructing western archetypes in these films, many years before that became the fashionable approach to take.

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