A bounty hunter escorts a killer to be tried for murder, but allows the man's outlaw brother to catch up with them to have a showdown over a previous shocking murder.A bounty hunter escorts a killer to be tried for murder, but allows the man's outlaw brother to catch up with them to have a showdown over a previous shocking murder.A bounty hunter escorts a killer to be tried for murder, but allows the man's outlaw brother to catch up with them to have a showdown over a previous shocking murder.
Boetticher merges the audience in the open freeness of wild nature, according to his trade-mark style of turning the landscape into a further character of his films. The photography and the use of color are magnificent. The action scenes are terse, (enough) realistic and much accurate in the movements of the actors. Particularly brilliant are the nocturnal scenes: the shadows which hide the faces are opposed to the glitter of metal objects (cups, fire-arms) and to the lights spread by Karen Steele's blond hair and white shirt. And these nocturnal scenes create a remarkable erotic atmosphere, due to the breathtaking presence of Steele as Mrs. Lane. It has been said that in Boetticher's films the Woman is never a real character, but rather a dreamed object of desire. "Ride Lonesome" is perhaps the best evidence of this theory: Karen Steele is so incredibly gorgeous that the viewer is led to see her more as a Goddess than as a woman. And thus we easily accept the instinctive respect paid to her by the male characters. Also note this subtlety: the Apaches attack the whites just because their chief wants to get Mrs. Lane. The power of Woman rules.
Any character is designed with accurate psychology, with excellent work by the whole cast. Randolph Scott, Karen Steele, Pernell Roberts, James Best are all commendable. I especially liked a very young James Coburn in the role of the naive cow-boy, living on the risky border between good and evil. Lee Van Cleef has a short role as the main villain Frank, but leaves his mark: look at his sneer and his body language when Frank realizes that he's going to face a mortal clash.
A marginal note: the Italian title of the movie sounds like "The tree of revenge". I venture to say that this title is better than the original one.
I greatly like "Ride Lonesome". You can enjoy it at two levels: either breath in the open spaces and relish the adventure, or make a deeper study of Boetticher's admirable style and technique.
- Jul 24, 2002