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Monday, December 1, 2008
With the recent release of Sony Pictures’ Budd Boetticher box set, our understanding of the late 1950s western – that high-water mark of the genre when it had achieved an advanced level of self-awareness but before it dissolved into apocalypse and self-parody – becomes considerably expanded. The set contains five of the seven films that Boetticher made with star Randolph Scott – then at the twilight of his own career – between 1956 and 1960. Quickly and cheaply shot on location, these films are locked into the dusty landscapes of the American west, a rocky, unredeemable terrain over which Boetticher’s camera takes in both fast-paced shoot outs and complex moral/psychological drama (in Andrew Sarris’ formulation the director’s vision is “elemental but not elementary”).