14 November 2008 | Michael_Elliott
Decision at Sundown (1957)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
After the suicide of his wife, Bart Allison (Randolph Scott) makes it his goal to hunt down and kill the man he feels responsible. He finds Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll) in the small town of Sundown where he owns the sheriff (Andrew Duggan) and has the town frightened. Not to mention he shows up just as Tate is about to be married. It seems these Boetticher/Scott films weren't overly successful or popular when first released but over the past few years their reputations have really grown. There are a couple twists here that happens at the end of the film, which probably wouldn't go over too well back in 1957 but today I think people will be able to enjoy these more. This is certainly a western by all means but it's also a lot deeper than that and I think that's the reason these films keep getting more popular. The character study that involves Bart, Tate and the entire town makes for some suspenseful scenes and a lot of stuff to think about when it comes to men trying to seek revenge. Boetticher's direction is masterful as he does a terrific job at building tension from the opening scenes all the way to the end. The majority of the film has Scott held up in a barn, which is perfect because it gives the film a chance to visit and see the supporting characters and learn how they're going to have a major impact on the ending. The performances are also excellent with Scott leading the way in a role that isn't your typical hero. An anti-hero might be better because he is playing a very ugly character that doesn't have much charm. The way Scott lets the character's pain run free makes this the best work I've seen from him. Duggan is terrific as the snake sheriff and we get strong supporting performances by Carroll, Karen Steele and Valerie French. Noah Beery, Jr. is also excellent in his role as Scott's friend. Again, I'm sure people could debate the twists at the end but I think the make the film a lot more memorable. We've seen countless western's involving revenge so to see one that isn't done in a standard fashion is very refreshing.