22 July 2010 | hitchcockthelegend
He arrives in Twin Forks and the whole town is in a tizzy.
The Bounty Hunter sees Randolph Scott star as a Bounty Hunter tracking down three murdering train robbers who may have settled down in the small town of Twin Forks. It's directed by Andre de Toth, in what was the last of six Westerns he made with Scott. It's written by Winston Miller (story) & Finlay McDermid, and features support acting from Marie Windsor, Ernest Borgnine, Dolores Dorn & Howard Petrie. Music is by David Buttolph and Edwin B. DuPar photographs it at Redrock Canyon & the Warner Ranch in California. Coming as it did during the 3D boom of 1953/54, it was shot in 3D but ended up being released in standard flat 2D. Out of Warner Brothers it was shot in their own color format known as WarnerColor.
During the early days when civilisation was pushing its frontiers farther and farther West, there roamed a special creed of men. . .neither outlaws nor officers of the law, yet more feared than either. For reward money--they tracked down criminals wanted dead or alive, and made themselves both judge and executioner in some lonely court of no appeal. They were called "Bounty Hunters".
The WarnerColor may be dull and lifeless here, but that in no way sums up this perky Randy Scott Oater. Scott was always at his best when playing loners or troubled and pained drifters, in short, when away from a group dynamic he was allowed to flourish as the fine actor he was. So it be here as he lays it on as a no nonsense good bad guy! Quipping away in the face of aggression, Scott is able to portray a man not to be messed with-who is happy to kill for cash-yet remain charming and always endearing himself to the audience. It's quite a knack to be so tough yet also be so affable. But Scott on form could do it in his sleep, and to my mind that makes this an essential film for Scott fans to consider outside of his work for Boetticher & Peckinpah.
Once he reaches Twin Forks, the film gathers apace and starts to unfold as a whodunit like mystery. Sure the writing is not forming the townsfolk with any great urgency, and by golly it isn't hard to figure out who the hiding out villains are. But watching the town start to crack under the strain of either being suspicious of thy neighbours, or fretting about being found out, makes for an entertaining piece as Scott moves about them with almost sadistic glee. The smiling assassin comes to mind! It put me in mind of one of Audie Murphy's best film's, No Name On the Bullet, so any fans of that film should certainly get much from this one.
There's nothing to write home about technically, Toth deals in standard file and rank direction and DuPar's photography is lost within the dull sheen deliverance at Warner Ranch. While the support cast are nicely dressed, and made up, but ultimately just talking props serving to let Scott grasp the film with both hands. But grasp it he does! With gun in hand, tongue in cheek and the heart of a lion, he lifts this piece above its many other budgetary failings. 7/10