Ride Lonesome

Like Budd Boetticher's other finest Westerns, Ride Lonesome is written by Burt Kennedy, stars Randolph Scott, and feels like an unrushed short story. As it opens, bounty hunter Scott easily captures a whiny young outlaw whose shifting value-as bait for more outlaws, as reward dollars, as amnesty for those who bring him in-differs for each of Scott's uninvited traveling companions. James Coburn, in his first film, is engagingly gawky, while Lee Van Cleef is already snakelike. Even by Boetticher's taut standards, Ride Lonesome is cut down to basics-seven characters lost among primordial boulders, the essential Boetticher landscape. In a genre where the gunfight ending is nearly invariable, this film builds to surprises.

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