Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)

“The name’s Buchanan.”

Buchanan Rides Alone Poster

Synopsis:
When heading home through the corrupt border town of Agry, a lone rider (Randolph Scott) gets embroiled in a feud between the Agry brothers and a Mexican family.

Genres:

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary notes, this “offbeat”, surprisingly tongue-in-cheek western about a loner riding into a feuding town is reminiscent of both Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964) and Kurosawa’s Yojimbo (1961). For most of the film, Scott has a bemused look of detachment on his face — all he wants is to get home to West Texas. But when push comes to shove, he does what is needed to help protect those who are innocent, and to retrieve what is rightfully his. In his review of The Tall T (1958) — another of the seven westerns Boetticher ultimately made starring Randolph Scott — Peary notes Boetticher’s tendency to show men (in this case, Buchanan and the Mexicans) who choose to act with pride and honor in the face of an increasingly corrupt and violent “civilized” West. Indeed, women play only minor secondary roles in the film; this is very much a male western.

Note: As I wrote in my review of The Bullfighter and the Lady (1951), Boetticher was one of the rare filmmakers at the time to portray Mexicans in a dignified and respectful manner; this is clearly evident in Buchanan Rides Alone as well.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Buchanan calmly ordering and eating his steak in the midst of increasing barroom chaos
    Ordering Steak
  • Peter Whitney as Amos, the bumbling, half-wit Agry brother who’s always on-the-move and in-the-know
    Whitney
  • An exciting final shoot-out
    Shootout

Must See?
No, though any fan of Boetticher/Scott films will undoubtedly want to check it out.

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One Response to “Buchanan Rides Alone (1958)”

  1. A must – more than a few westerns lean toward the dry side; what director Boetticher did with them is refreshing and attention should be paid.

    ‘BRA’ is 78 min., and chock-full of entertainment. It’s also sprinkled with humor. The plot is neatly constructed (forgiven: to keep the plot going, there seems a mis-step – at one point, Scott is too accommodating to three bad’uns by leaving them not well tied-up and with their guns and horses). The second half is almost French farce: while looking for other people, characters come across those they don’t want to meet; excuses flow. In the very taut and cleverly handled climax, the viewer needs to keep up somewhat with who’s shooting who.

    As noted, Scott is “bemused” through a good deal of this and is esp. good in the early, more comic sequences. Ya just gotta love this guy. (FFs will be reminded of ‘Blazing Saddles’; not only for the Scott reference but also for the fact that the town in ‘BRA’ seems crawling with people with the same last name – just like the Johnsons in ‘BS’.)

    A number of the supporting players come off well: Craig Stevens, Tol Avery, Barry Kelley (particularly slimy), L.Q. Jones (rather amusing), and (as noted) Peter Whitney (particularly hilarious when surprised by Scott coming from behind a door).

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