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Well, a lot of naysayers for this film in the reviews section. I have to be honest, this was a lot better than I expected it to be, especially after seeing Jim Brown's name above Lee Van Cleef in the opening credits. He earns it by virtue of a lot more screen time and a generally decent performance while balancing out Fred Williamson's take on the flashy gambler character Tyree. I thought Williamson put a little too much Seventies street vibe into his dialog, so that was a negative. Another one, if it hadn't been so entertaining, was Jim Kelly's portrayal of an 1870's Tarahumara Mexican/Indian with no tongue and a kung fu gimmick! All those high flying moves and spinning back kicks? - I don't think so, but like I say, it WAS entertaining.But what I did like was the twist with Catherine Spaak's character, and all those crazy horse spills! When Pike (Brown) and Tyree maneuvered the chasing posse over that near ninety degree angle hillside, I just couldn't believe it. The stunt-men earned their pay on that escapade, and if you kept a close eye on the background when the camera shifted back to the heroes, you could see a horse continue to slide down the hill. There were a few more single instances of horse and rider going down, but I've never seen so many at a time in a maneuver like that. Simply incredible.Then there was the sleight of hand with former New Orleans call girl Catherine. I have to admit, I didn't see that coming when she made off with the satchel leaving the big money behind. In fact, I don't recall any character making a sacrifice like that in any other Western, so chalk one up to the writer who created that scene.So with all that, I wasn't too concerned about the eventual showdown between Pike and Tyree. It was hinted at more than a half dozen times between them so you knew it would have to happen. The kicker was Pike's neat hand-off to Chico to thwart everyone in on the chase for the picture's final twist. As if to acknowledge Pike's clever ruse, bounty hunter Kiefer (Lee Van Cleef) just laughed it off right then and there. Uncharacteristically so, he still had a shot at the money if he continued the chase, but I guess that's where the budget called for The End.Two final thoughts - who came up with the idea of a character named Dumper (Harry Carey Jr.) actually taking a dump in the picture? And with Fred Williamson's early and frequent use of snakes to create a diversion, why didn't they use it in one of the final segments to outwit the bad guys? With a little more work, this could have been called "Snakes on a Plain".
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Ride Lonesome is directed by Budd Boetticher, written by Burt Kennedy and stars Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, James Coburn, James Best & Lee Van Cleef. Charles Lawton Jr. is the cinematographer (in CinemaScope for the Alabama Hills, Lone Pine, California location) and Heinz Roemheld provides the musical score. Film is part of the Ranown Western cycle involving Boetticher, Scott, Kennedy and producer Harry Joe Brown.Bounty hunter Ben Brigade (Scott) captures wanted outlaw Billy John (Best) and tells him he's taking him to Santa Cruz to be hanged. Best boasts that his brother Frank (Cleef) will soon be arriving to ensure that doesn't happen. Brigade isn't the least bit bothered by this statement. The two men stop at a Wells Junction, a remote swing station, where they encounter Boone (Roberts) & Whit (Coburn), two drifters, and Mrs Lane (Steele), the station attendant's wife. With Mr Lane missing and the Mescalero Apache's on the warpath, the group decide to collectively travel to Santa Cruz, but hot on their trail are the Indians and also Frank John's gang. There's also the small matter of motives within the group, for it seems Boone & Whit, too, have a special interest in Billy, while Brigade may have something far more ulterior driving him on...As the decades have rolled by, the Boetticher/Scott Westerns have come to be rightly regarded as genre high points. Between 1956 to 1960 they produced 7 pieces of work. The weakest of which were the more jovial "Buchanan Rides Alone" (1958), and the Kennedy absent "WB" contract filler that was "Westbound" (1959). The remaining five each follow a familiar theme that sees Scott as a man driven by emotional pain, movies with simmering undertones and pulsing with psychological smarts. If you poll a hundred Western fans for their favourite Boetticher/Scott movie, you will find any of the five being mentioned as a favourite - such is the tightness and intelligence of each respective picture.So we are out in the desolated Old West, it's harsh and weather beaten. Our five characters are either troubled by death - prior and pending - and, or, searching for a life that may be a touch too far from their grasp. As their journey unfolds, loyalties will be tested and shifted, uneasy bonds formed, all while psychological and sexual needs bubble away under the surface. All this human foible glowering is viewed by the enveloping Alabama Hills - with Mount Whitney the chief patriarch overseeing his charges. "Ride Lonseome" is a stunning genre movie, an elegiac piece, one that's bleak yet not without hope, a collage of tones seamlessly blended together to create one almost magnificent whole. It was the first Boetticher movie to be in CinemaScope, and pic is directed with great economic skill, where the whole width of the screen is creatively used by the director, thus placing the characters in the landscape in the way that the great "Anthony Mann" used to do with "Jimmy Stewart". His action construction is smart, and it should be noted that there is not one interior shot in the whole film. Lawton Jr. sumptuously shoots in Eastman Color, which is actually a perfect choice for the rugged terrain and the wide and lonesome inducing open spaces provided by the Scope format. While Kennedy's script is sparing, perfectly so, the dialogue is clipped but very telling, and crucially there's no manipulation in the narrative.Then of course there's the cast. Scott leads off with one of his brave and ageing man of few words portrayals, a character with inner sadness gnawing away at him. With just one glance and a couple of words, Scott actually provides more depth than most other actors in the genre were able to do with more meatier parts. With the lead protagonist established, Boetticher surrounds him with fine support. Coburn was making his film debut and with his tall frame and distinctive voice he leaves a good impression, mostly because he works so well off of Roberts' more outwardly tough turn. Their partnership gives the film a believable friendship at its centre, lovable rogues perhaps? And they also provide some of the lighter moments that Boetticher and Kennedy use to tonally keep us guessing. Steele is just sultry, a blonde fire cracker in the middle of a potential hornets nest. While Best does a nice line in snivelling weasel, his character trait being that he shoots his victims in the back. As for Cleef? He's barely in it, but after his character is introduced into the story, his presence hangs over proceedings like a dark heavy cloud. He will be back, though, and rest assured it's worth the wait.Does Ride Lonesome have flaws? Yes. One thing is, is that at 73 minutes it's too damn short!. But moving away from that particular greedy itch of mine, the film does carry some Western clichés. Most notably with the Indian participation in the story. Be it chases, portentous smoke signals or an adobe corral attack - where our group are of course outnumbered - it's stock Cowboy & Indian fare, not helped by Roemheld's music, which only reinforces the clichés. Thankfully, in Boetticher's hands the clichés are overcome by the scenes managing to raise the pulse, and in one particular sequence, it provides the basis for a terrific tracking shot. Roemheld however does deliver the goods for the finale, though, and what a finale it is too. Featuring a tree shaped like a cross, the ending has sparked many an interpretation. Some way too deep (French critics) & some just bizarre (internet sleuths), when actually the interpretation is simple - hell they even got "Martin Scorsese" to explain it on the DVD... The memorable shot involving the tree, as the music pounds away, can induce pounds of goose-flesh rising up on the skin. As endings go in the Boettticher canon? It gives "Comanche Station's" riderless horse finale a run for the title of being his, and Scott's, best. A near masterpiece from a true auteur. 9/10
I recently watched all four of the Magnificent Seven movies and "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" was the last. While the first film was exceptional in every way, I can't say there was much reason for the other three films. Part of it is that the plots are pretty much the same as the first film. Part of it is that the cast kept changing. In the case of Chris, the leader of the seven, he was played by three different actors. Yul Brynner played him in the first two and was a tremendous presence. So, when he was later played by George Kennedy and Lee Van Cleef (in this film), it was a huge letdown. While "The Magnificent Seven Ride!" is yet another attempt to squeeze a little bit of life out of a dead franchise, at least it offers SOME differences. The first three plots are pretty much clones. This one is just enough different to make it interesting....a bit. In fact, this film is a bit like the first three combined with "The Dirty Dozen"!When the film begins, Chris (Van Cleef) has settled down. He's now a sheriff and has a young bride (Mariette Hartley). Life is good. However, after three punks rob the bank, shoot the sheriff and kidnap his wife, the usual routine is disrupted. When he sufficiently recovered from the shooting to give chase, Chris sets off to catch the creeps. Unfortunately, his wife's body is found along the trail and the trio brutalized and raped her. When Chris finds two of them, he soon dispatches them--but isn't sure where the third is. Perhaps he's gone across the desert to Mexico.Inside Mexico, Chris meets up with an old friend that tried earlier in the film to recruit Chris for another Magnificent Seven-style fight against some stupid Mexican gang of bandits. He refuses--as he's got revenge on the brain. But, when Chris later finds the friend and others murdered AND rescues their women (who have all been repeatedly raped), he isn't going to walk away this time. But he needs help--and goes back over the border to get prisoners to help him with the fight! What will happen next? See the film...though there really isn't a whole lotta doubt!"The Magnificent Seven Ride!" ends up being pretty much what you'd expect after the prisoners were recruited. They are a pretty much forgettable cast doing EXACTLY what previous incarnations of the series had already done. And, the film looks a lot more like a made for TV movie than anything else. Very slight and forgettable.By the way, when you watch the film, you might have a similar reaction to me. After this group of women have been brutalized, raped, had their men murdered and just barely avoided death, showing them romantically pairing up with the surviving members of the seven seemed pretty sick. 350c69d7ab