Decision at Sundown (1957)

“A man’s gotta draw the line somewhere if he’s going to go on living with himself.”

Decision at Sundown Poster

Synopsis:
A man (Randolph Scott) obsessed with avenging his wife’s death rides into the town of Sundown and threatens to kill the local head honcho, Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll).

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Response to Peary’s Review:
This suprisingly tense and effective western adds a new twist to the trope of vengeance in the old West. Although the protagonist (Scott) stubbornly refuses to recognize the irrationality of his obsession, his visit serves as a catalyst for the inhabitants of Sundown, who suddenly realize the folly of their subservience to Kimbrough. The screenplay moves along at a fast clip, and makes excellent use of a surprise revelation, a stalled wedding, a daylong stand-off, and an unexpected ending. Definitely better than average.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Randolph Scott as a man nearly blinded by obsessive vengeance
    Scott
  • John Carroll’s surprisingly nuanced characterization as the womanizing Tate Kimbrough
    Carroll
  • Exciting use of claustrophobic locales
    Locale
  • A surprising ending
    Ending

Must See?
Yes. This is one of Boetticher’s finest and most unusual westerns.

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One Response to “Decision at Sundown (1957)”

  1. Yes, a must. Another terrifically compact Boetticher flick!

    Scott sinks a little deeper with his acting chops – he’s a tougher hombre this time around (cf. ‘Buchanan Rides Alone’), something of an anti-hero, more complex, as he simply cannot comprehend the nature of his loss.

    The sly script has us clearly on his side from the get-go. We’re even more with him not only when we see (and know about) Carroll but also his seemingly drippy bride-to-be.

    But things change!

    Someone sums up Scott: “Maybe you can’t convince a man like him about something he just don’t wanna know about.”

    We’ve all known a guy like that. Here we see the type in a very conflicted way.

    One very satisfying film!

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