Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Nip It In the Budd

This has been mentioned a lot on other sites, but why can't I do it too? So: prodded by Martin Scorsese, Sony/Columbia is finally releasing their Budd Boetticher/Randolph Scott Westerns, with special features contributed by Scorsese and some of his Boetticher-loving pals like Taylor Hackford and Clint Eastwood.

The Boetticher cult -- a very well-deserved cult following, I might add -- was a little slower to develop than some of the other auteur cults; when I first got interested in old films, you heard about him, but not as much as some other makers of Westerns like Ford and Anthony Mann. Partly because he was most associated with Randolph Scott, who was not as legendary as John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart or Clint Eastwood. Also, I think, because his films occupy a middle ground between the old-fashioned Western and the "revisionist" Western that questions the assumptions of the genre; in the late '50s, revisionist Westerns were becoming more common, but Boetticher and Scott's films really aren't like that. They're improved versions of the old B Western formula where the stoic hero rides in, defeats the bad guys, does his duty and rides out. They pared down that type of Western to its essentials and raised them to the level of myth.


Anonymous said...

One thing that has possibly handicapped wider appreciation of Boetticher's best work is that most of it is in CinemaScope, and his 'Scope pictures sometimes play just passably in pan-&-scan versions. Until TCM began occasionally airing letterboxed versions of the Ranown films, they were very difficult to see in their correct aspect ratio, and this really matters.

Anonymous said...

And there was much rejoicing in the land.

BTW, I've stopped watching anything on the Encore Western channel unless it is from the pre-widescreen era because Encore shows pan & scan versions almost exclusively.

Anthony Strand said...

You bring up a good point about Randolph Scott. I'm 23, and while I know many people my age who love Blazing Saddles, absolutely none of them get the "You'd do it for Randolph Scott" joke.

If that joke was "You'd do it for John Wayne" or "You'd do it for Jimmy Stewart", they'd all get it.

Paul F. Etcheverry said...

Didn't Budd Boetticher also direct episodes of the Maverick TV show?