1959s Ride Lonesome is the sixth film in the seven collaborations between star Randolph Scott and director Budd Boetticher. Most of the acclaimed films in the series were written by Burt Kennedy, as is the case with our film of today.
Brigade and his quarry/bait
Randolph Scott, James Best
In Ride Lonesome our retired lawman turned bounty hunter Ben Brigade (Scott) is anything but lonesome in his quest for vengeance against an unrepentant villain. Brigade has captured killer Billy John played by James Best and seems to be taking his own sweet time about cashing in on the reward. Time should be of the essence considering that the loquacious and somewhat cowardly Billy John is the kid brother of the cold-hearted Frank, played by Lee Van Cleef, whose only redeeming quality is loyalty to family. If Billy John is sure of one thing it is that Frank will be on their trail. Brigade seems to be sure of this as well. It almost seems as if he wants a run-in with the notorious Frank. As Frank tells it, he once did Brigade a hurt and had almost forgotten about it.
Sam and Whit
Pernell Roberts, James Coburn
There is safety in numbers they say and Ben is soon surrounded by dubious safety. Sam Boone played by Pernell Roberts is looking for absolution of the earthly kind. If he is the one to bring in Billy John, Sam is assured of amnesty for past sins and he is desperate to live a life free from his past. He has also promised the same for his simple-minded partner Whit played by James Coburn.
Karen Steele as Carrie Lane
We couldn't call this group a cozy band of the like-minded, yet into their midst comes the greatest of complications - a woman. The very recently widowed Carrie Lane played by Karen Steele is in need of protection and the group is chivalrous to a man and they are all impressed by her beauty and courage. Mrs. Lane is an intuitive woman and not one to be easily fooled. She sees all of the men she is now involved with for their true natures, as well as understanding the danger they are facing.
Watching the charismatic performance by Pernell Roberts makes a viewer marvel that he didn't become a more successful film star. However, this was 1959 when Bonanza made its television debut and TV success awaited the stars of that perennial favourite. Roberts talent is undeniable and sustained him through a long career. However, it was his partner in this film James Coburn who managed to maintain an active career in both film and television eventually leading to a supporting actor Oscar win in 1997 for Affliction. Proof of Ed Begley's quote that success as an actor is in "outlasting the other bastards".
James Coburn guested three times on Bonanza. It would be enjoyable for those who enjoy Ride Lonesome to check out 1959s The Truckee Strip, 1961s The Dark Gate and 1962s The Long Night.
The isolated setting and the conflicting goals of this chase to civilization and revenge makes for a taut 73 minutes of exciting western entertainment backed by the insistent score of two time Oscar nominee Heinz Roemheld.
TCM is showing Ride Lonesome on Saturday, December 3rd at 9:00 a.m. You will be forgiven for putting off your Saturday chores for the short time it will take to enjoy this film.