The other night I watched Comanche Station, the last of the Boetticher/Scott movies and one of the best even though (or perhaps because) it recycles a key scene from their first movie together, Seven Men From Now. The scene where Claude Akins tells an insinuating story about Scott and The Married Woman is nowhere near as good as the same scene with Lee Marvin in Seven Men, but somehow the very act of looking for parallels and differences between the two scenes is interesting in itself. That's part of what makes these movies a true cycle, instead of just a bunch of movies with similar plots; part of the interest is in seeing variations on the themes introduced in earlier movies. The ending of Comanche Station only attains its full impact as a surprise ending if you've seen Seven Men From Now and The Tall T and become used to the way The Married Woman's Husband was characterized in those movies.
But obviously, since these movies have so much in common, they also lend themselves to drinking games, and I'm surprised no movie buff has tried to come up with one. Most obviously, any time Randolph Scott or some other character answers someone else's statement with a two-word question, you need to take a shot. Burt Kennedy, the writer of most of these films (and later a director of some pretty good Westerns and Western comedies, though he was a better writer than director), obviously loved that kind of dialogue and peppers every one of his scripts with bits like:
CLAUDE AKINS: Killin' Indians was what we was there for, wasn't it?
RANDOLPH SCOTT: Was it?
RICHARD RUST: But we ain't got a long gun, Ben.
CLAUDE AKINS: Ain't we?
RICHARD BOONE (The Tall T): Sometimes you don't have a choice.
RANDOLPH SCOTT: Don't you?
ROSCO P. COLTRANE (in Ride Lonesome): You're bluffin'.
RANDOLPH SCOTT: Am I?
GUY IN SEVEN MEN FROM NOW: Well, then, we agree.
RANDOLPH SCOTT: Do we?
Other drinkable moments include every time the following happens:
- The bad guy makes a disparaging remark about the courage or manliness of The Woman's husband.
- Scott has the drop on the bad guy, who stands with his back to Scott and mentions that he saved Scott's life earlier in the film.
- Bad guy says something flowery and semi-poetic about The Woman's looks.
- Someone tells the story of how Scott had a tragic past involving his dead wife.
- Scott stops at a remote outpost (station, shack, whatever) early in the film.
- The movie introduces two young bad-guy henchmen, one more worldly-wise, the other gentler or dumber.
- Scott has a conversation with the head bad guy that ends with the bad guy saying something threatening, but with a smile ("I'd hate to have you try," Lee Marvin in Seven Men; "Like me in particular," Akins, Comanche Station)
- Scott says "There are some things a man can't ride around."
There are others, but that's a start. Further suggestions welcome in comments. And yes, most of these things happen in other Westerns, including others Kennedy wrote, but because the Boetticher movies are so ritualized, the repetition stands out, like the leitmotifs in Wagner's Ring (though I'd rather watch the complete cycle of Boetticher/Scott movies than the complete Ring).