RIDE LONESOME —-the 5th of the seven Randolph Scott westerns directed by Budd Boetticher, this entertaining 1959 ramble was again written by Burt Kennedy and photographed by Charles Lawton Jr, once more using the dramatic Alabama Hills landscapes east of Lone Pine in the California Sierras for another tale of revenge.
Scott’s taciturn ‘Ben Brigade’ (it helps to have a badass name) has one helluva score to settle with a merciless outlaw, one who abducted Brigade’s wife and then hanged her. Since the bad guy is Lee Van Cleef, you know he ain’t walking away at the end of the 73 minutes. Van Cleef’s ‘Frank’ is so mean he actually forgot he’d hung Brigade’s wife.
Boetticher again casts his knockout girlfriend-of-the-day, Karen Steele, and gives her even more poses to show off her cascading 50s hairstyle and Why The West Was Won figure in tight-fitting cowgirl duds—historical accuracy can go fish:we’re not about to complain about this artistic choice. Her presence (and its presentation) riles up Scott & Steele’s motive-shifty companions, a pleasantly chatty Pernell Roberts and rail-thin James Coburn, 31 in his film debut. It’s the only time I think Coburn ever played someone who wasn’t the brightest card in the deck. They’re escorting Van Cleef’s backshooting brother (who also gabs up a storm), played by dependable favorite James Best.
Sleek and engaging, with a memorable final shot. Only drawback is Heinz Roemheld’s bland and repetitive score. Excellent cinematography and sound. Drawing a bead on spot #84 for the year, it grossed $2,700,000.