26 December 2005 | krorie
Lee Marvin at his most cunning
This is one of my favorite westerns. Since it has been out of circulation until recently, few of the new generation have got to see it. Hopefully now that it has been restored on DVD it will receive its just desserts. If at all possible, see the wide-screen version. Budd Boetticher believed that as many shots as possible should be made outside. His movies have few interior scenes. He shot his best westerns in Lone Pine, California, second only to Utah's Mounument Valley for natural beauty that fulfills anyone's fantasy of how the Old West should appear on the big screen. "Seven Men From Now" also contains one of my favorite movie shots highlighting the genius of Boetticher. When Ben Stride (Randy Scott) draws against Bill Masters (Lee Marvin) the viewer never sees Stride draw. His/Her imagination must be used to visualize just how fast Stride's draw is. It's sort of like the old joke used on the Steve Allen Television Show by Don Knotts. He never moves his hands and asks the viewer, "Wanna see it again?"
These were the early days of Lee Marvin's film career when he was still trying to prove himself as a viable actor. In "Seven Men From Now" he succeeds beyond one's wildest expectations. Though he deserved the Oscar for "Cat Ballou" a few years later, he is actually better in "Seven Men From Now" than he was in that award-winning flick. After "Cat Ballou" his acting deteriorated somewhat, though from time to time he turned in an admirable performance especially in the neglected classic "Point Blank." Second only to Lee Marvin, is Randolph Scott who never gave a poor performance. He plays to perfection his role as a revenge seeking, self-pitying Marshall who still believes in fair play and romance. John Wayne was originally slotted for the role, but it is doubtful that even such a great actor as Wayne could have played Ben Stride the way he was meant to be portrayed, the way Randy Scott plays him. The finely honed well-written script is by Burt Kennedy who would go on to make one of the funniest westerns ever, "Support Your Local Sheriff." What a team Boetticher, Kennedy, and Scott made.
Though it is good to see the old cowboy star Don "Red" Barry on the big screen once more, his part as Bill Masters' weak-minded sidekick does not fit him. He is sadly miscast. A character actor such as Strother Martin would have fit the role much better.
This is one of those films not to be missed whether you're a western fan or not. It can be viewed repeatedly and enjoyed more each time.