Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Decision at Sundown

Decision at Sundown, 1957
Dir: Budd Boetticher

So somehow I missed this in the time line of Boetticher films, but that might apt considering what this is. That's not to say that this is really bad, in fact, most if not all of the characters are really great in this, it's just that that there are too many scenes where characters are telling you exactly what the film is about. Maybe I'm being too picky, but I guess that just comes with watching way too many films.

Decision at Sundown is great, but I can't help but feel slightly disappointed by all those scenes. The plot isn't nearly as thrusting as most films, but Charles Lang has the pen again and Boetticher does his best again to loosen it up. There is again a sort of narrative set up that can be missed if you are not looking for it. Randolph Scott is Burt Allision, back in great mode, his lone gun (with a sidekick, so maybe not so lone at first) is out for vengeance against Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll), a man he claims "stole" his wife while he was away during the war (Civil, of course). In fact, according to Allison, Kimbrough "ruined" her to the point that she committed suicide. Kimbrough has been the local boss in Sundown for a few years and has most of the town folks under his thumb, including the sheriff (Andrew Duggan). Allison rides into town and starts talking shit about Kimbrough right away, and everyone gets nervous because he's getting married to Lucy Summerton (Karen Steele) that very day. The scene during the wedding where Allison doesn't "hold his peace" is great, and he soon finds himself entrenched in the stable against the whole town, and we soon start to realize that his vengeance might not be so justified.

Allison and Kimbrough are both great characters, two flawed men who are bound to duel. The sherriff is loyal to Kimbrough up until the point where his life is on the line, the local doctor (John Archer) has his own gripes about Kimbrough but has never been able to deal with him, and then there's Ruby (Valerie French), a woman who's in love with Kimbrough but is not batting an eye over the wedding and maybe that's because she knows where Kimbrough's true affections lie. Anyway, this might be the first film I've seen where there are sort of two endings but the last one, the one which actually ends the film, is amazing, as opposed to the other way around, which usually happens. This could probably get a 4, but whatever. The grading is all pointless anyway really.


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