A wanted murderer, Billy John, is captured by Ben Brigade, a bounty hunter, who intends to take him to Santa Cruz to be hanged. Brigade stops at a staging post, where he saves the manager's wife from an Indian attack, and enlists the help of two outlaws to continue his journey more safely.
In the past year or so, I've made a determined decision to get more accustomed to pre-1970's films from around the world, particularly genres I've previously given short change to, such as musicals, war films and westerns. I have to admit it's greatly enhanced my appreciation of cinema in general. It's amazing how great some of these films actually are.
Since cinema is the greatest love of my life, I also collect books on film, trying to find out anything and everything I can. As the old Calvin Klein commercial goes, 'A man has many loves, but only one Obsession'. An unexpectedly great and relatively inexpensive find was 'The Editors of American Cowboy's The Top 100 Westerns of All Time,' from 2011. Looming at #52 was this, and its write-up sounded intriguing, so I've always kept my eyes open for it. Sure enough, last month I saw a Randolph Scott Westerns 6-pack for a very low price, and I pulled the trigger (pardon the pun).
This was exceptional and clearly deserves its lofty status. There is so much action, intrigue and beauty jam-packed in Burt Kennedy's script for this 72 minutes. Every shot is finely composed and exquisitely filmed. I dare you to find a better supporting cast. Sure, the four-hour epics by the Sir David Leans and Victor Flemings out there are great, but I'd rather see a simple story, brilliantly told than the gluttonous two-to-three-hour pieces of self-important crap you find these days. Let that be my epitaph.
I was so close to even giving this a perfect grade. It's honestly THAT good.
Ranown Pictures Corp., Columbia Pictures by Budd Boetticher, Burt Kennedy.
Stars: Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, James Best.
Genres: Drama, Western
Keywords: bounty bounty hunter brother outlaw indian attack
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