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Author Topic: Westbound (1959)  (Read 3919 times)
drinkanddestroy
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« on: January 15, 2012, 03:04:35 AM »

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053441/

Westbound (1959) 8/10

Capt. John Hayes (Randolph Scott) of the Union Army is a former manager of the Overland Stage Lines. When the Union begins using the stage line to send massive shipments of gold east from California, Hayes must return to his old job of managing the lines shipping the gold --  which Confederate sympathizers have no intention of allowing through.

Cast (courtesy of imdb)


Randolph Scott    ...   Capt. John Hayes
    Virginia Mayo    ...   Norma Putnam
    Karen Steele    ...   Jeanie Miller
    Michael Dante    ...   Rod Miller
    Andrew Duggan    ...   Clay Putnam
    Michael Pate    ...   Mace
    Wally Brown    ...   Stubby
    John Daheim    ...   Russ (as John Day)
    Walter Barnes    ...   Willis



This movie is the sixth of the seven Westerns directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, collectively referred to as "The Ranown Cycle." It is also the 6th of the Ranowns that I have seen (I am only missing Buchanan Rides Alone, which is  next up on my Netflix queue).

I really enjoyed this movie (out of the 6 Ranowns I have seen, I've really liked 4 of 'em -- Westbound, Ride Lonesome, The Tall T, and Seven Men from Now, each of which I'd rate a 7.5 or 8. I rate Comanche Station and Decision at Sundown a 5.5 and a 6, respectively.

-- Besides Decision at Sundown, all of the other Ranowns I've seen involve some variation of a few people riding alone through a desert. But Westbound is very different; most of Westbound takes place in a town, and in the surrounding farms and fields, where a Confederate sympathizer and his gunslingers are attempting to disrupt the Union shipments.

-- I've always considered Scott passable as an actor (mostly, I hated how he talks!), but here I like him more than usual -- I don't know if he is better or if I have just gotten used to him!

-- The landscapes here are absolutely spectacular. Loves the production design. The town set was also great; that is very important for me in a Western, that a town look like it could be a real Western town, and not obviously some backlot in a studio. This town set is one of the better ones I have seen.

SPOILER ALERT

-- This movie manages to be very enjoyable, despite so many plot points being totally laughable: I imagine that when the military had to ship gold (and the area was unreachable by train), it was done with special army carriages, with huge military escorts. Here, the Union is sending massive daily gold shipments on the regular stage line without even a shotgun rider -- even after the Confederate sympathizers know about it! Maybe it's believable that Putnam (Andrew Duggan) figures it out, since he himself used to be a station manager; but even after he figures it out -- and Scott knows he has figured it out -- they still continue shipping it by that route, with no shot gun rider --  the Confederates don't even try to get the gold -- and when they do at the end, it's against the will of Putnam! And though Putnam mentions in the beginning about getting the gold, his actual strategy seems to be simply burning the stations and stealing the horses, rather than having his numerous gunslingers robbing the gold being shipped on lines with no shotgun rider whose schedule and route he knows!
Then, the Confederate-sympathizing-townsfolk go to Hayes's side cuz they think Putnam's guys are too brutal -- really?Huh

-- RE: the score: there is a nice "Stage Theme" (my name!), a tune that plays whenever the stage is riding. Too bad it's just the same tune that plays over and over and over; this seems to be one of those scores for which the composer basically composed a single 2-minute song and that's it

-- While all the Ranown Cycle films have short running times (I don't thinka ny of 'em are longer than about 75 minutes), this is one that I believe warranted a longer running time than its 72 minutes. Since this is not just a few people riding through the desert, but more of a plot here, I found myself saying "What -- there are only 15 minutes left?!!" It ended a bit too quickly for me; that is always disappointing.

Anyway, it's definitely an enjoyable movie. Was worth the $2.99 rental fee on iTunes (Unfortunately, the dvd is not available for rent on Netflix).

« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 03:49:08 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2012, 03:30:50 AM »

This one deosn't really belong to the Ranown films.

It has a very different structure and is not more than just another little Randolph Scott B-picture. Not on the level of the other Boetticher Scott films. 5/10

And it wasn't produced by Harry Joe Brown.
Of course 7 Men from Now also wasn't a Brown production (instead John Wayne's Batjac for Warner Bros), but it has a Kenedy screenplay and the typical Ranown structure, and is always part of the cycle.

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« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2012, 03:34:50 AM »

This one deosn't really belong to the Ranown films.

It has a very different structure and is not more than just another little Randolph Scott B-picture. Not on the level of the other Boetticher Scott films. 5/10

And it wasn't produced by Harry Joe Brown.
Of course 7 Men from Now also wasn't a Brown production (instead John Wayne's Batjac for Warner Bros), but it has a Kenedy screenplay and the typical Ranown structure, and is always part of the cycle.

I know some people are precise and don't refer to it as being part of the Ranown Cycle ("RC"), but for the sake of convenience, many people collectively refer to all the Boetticher/Scott films as the RC: 7 Westerns, each no more than about 75 minutes, all made within  5-year period by the same director and lead actor. IMO, that's enuf to lump 'em all together and call 'em part of the RC (perhaps for convenience if not accuracy  Wink)

« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 05:42:11 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2012, 07:01:54 AM »

I have no idea wtf the title of the movie is supposed to mean. Scott presumably travels west to his new job coordinating the stage line, which will be traveling east with the gold. So what? Am I missing something here, or is this a damn stupid title for the movie?


« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 07:03:02 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2012, 07:39:53 AM »

I have no idea wtf the title of the movie is supposed to mean. Scott presumably travels west to his new job coordinating the stage line, which will be traveling east with the gold. So what? Am I missing something here, or is this a damn stupid title for the movie?


In case of The Tall T Boetticher also had no idea what the title could mean. It wasn't his choice.

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« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2012, 07:46:22 AM »

I know some people are precise and don't refer to it as being part of the Ranown Cycle ("RC"), but for the sake of convenience, many people collectively refer to all the Boetticher/Scott films as the RC: 7 Westerns, each no more than about 75 minutes, all made within  5-year period by the same director and lead actor. IMO, that's enuf to lump 'em all together and call 'em part of the RC (perhaps for convenience if not accuracy  Wink)

Yes, but Westbound is very different from the other 6, which are all connected thematically. And which all were produced by Brown (with the one exception) and written by Burt Kennedy (the 4 films in the center of the cycle) or Charles Lang Jr. (the 2 films which comment the others from the sides).
I see a lot of sense in not including Westbound despite being also a Boetticher/ Scott B-western.

And Boetticher claimed that he only made it for Warner to get the chance to make The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamonds.


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« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2012, 02:35:57 PM »

In case of The Tall T Boetticher also had no idea what the title could mean. It wasn't his choice.

according to the trailer, it's "T for Terror" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4SJ_NS1fS8

« Last Edit: January 15, 2012, 02:44:37 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2012, 02:44:01 PM »

Yes, but Westbound is very different from the other 6, which are all connected thematically. And which all were produced by Brown (with the one exception) and written by Burt Kennedy (the 4 films in the center of the cycle) or Charles Lang Jr. (the 2 films which comment the others from the sides).
I see a lot of sense in not including Westbound despite being also a Boetticher/ Scott B-western.

And Boetticher claimed that he only made it for Warner to get the chance to make The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamonds.



Kennedy wrote Seven Men from Now, The Tall T, Ride Lonesome, and Comanche station, which (I believe, according to release dates on imdb), the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 7th of  the cycle, respectively. So they are not "in the center of the cycle."

And Decision at Sundown also has a different storyline, it takes place entirely in a town and does not involve a few individuals riding in a desert as the others do.

p.s. I have not yet seen Buchanan Rides Alone, so please don't say anything to spoil that movie's plot here  Wink

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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2012, 03:04:59 AM »

Kennedy wrote Seven Men from Now, The Tall T, Ride Lonesome, and Comanche station, which (I believe, according to release dates on imdb), the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 7th of  the cycle, respectively. So they are not "in the center of the cycle."

And Decision at Sundown also has a different storyline, it takes place entirely in a town and does not involve a few individuals riding in a desert as the others do.
)




I surely wasn't talking about their release dates.
They are in the center in relation to plot and characters. These 4 written by Kennedy have a lot of similarities (The Tall T a bit less), not only thematically but also in visual terms.

The 2 Lang westerns are both town set and do alone for this differ from the other 4. But even the outdoor scenes in Buchanan look quite different.

But there are still similarities in the structure of the 2 , and both are more extreme in the characterizing of the Scott hero. And for those they stand on the opposite sides of the Ranown spectrum.
In Decision at Sundown the hero is similarly obsessed with a search or a vengeance like in 3 of the Kennedy films. But he isn't that relaxed anymore which brings the absurdity of the quest to a pschotic dimension. Here Scott searched the man for the wrong reasons and his obsession brings death to his friend and he also destroys himself. The Kennedy hero retains his dignity, even if the quest has become absurd, the one of Decision at Sundown breaks down at the absurdity of the situation. Even more the baddie wasn't that bad at all and has found in the end a girl who loves him and brings him (probably) inner peace, while the hero is (probably) innerly dead. And the last images of him being drunk and in conflict with the town people (whom he actually helped) is a pretty unusual ending for a 50s film.
As part of a cycle of films, this can be viewed as a comment on the other films, or at least a variation which sets it enough apart from them to call it not being in the center, and for that Decison at Sundown is on the bleak side of the Ranown spectrum.

Without spoiling much I can say that Buchanan is then on the complete other side with a hero being always as relaxed and jaunty in every situation as he can be in consideration of the circumstances, which gives the film also an absurd, sometimes grotesque tone, but in very bright mood.

The Kennedy films are despite their light attitude tragedies under their surface, the Lang films strengthen these elements to both directions and turn the films into a farce (Buchanan) and a bleak drama (Sundown).

Nothing of all that I can find in Westbound.

« Last Edit: January 16, 2012, 12:03:50 PM by stanton » Logged

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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2012, 11:16:43 AM »

Yeah, I'm with stanton, I never think of Westbound as being part of the cycle.

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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2012, 01:24:00 AM »

There's no doubt that Westbound is technically not part of the RC -- both in terms of production, as well as the theme/style of the movie.

Those like me, who include it when referring to "the RC," do so mostly for convenience's sake: 7 Boetticher/Scott B-Westerns within a 5-year period, each being no more than 80 minutes.

If Westbound had not been made in middle of this time period (based on dates of the films' earliest release, Westbound is the 5th of the 7 to be released), or if there had been not just one but a several other Boetticher/Scott Westerns, then Westbound would probably be grouped with those. But considering that it's just one out of 7 and made smack in middle of this period....

anyway, this is really semantic discussion; we're not disagreeing substantively, as there is no doubt that it's technically not part of the RC (ditto for Seven Men From Now, btw); it's just a matter of whether you want to be precise, or stretch the truth for the sake of convenience and easy grouping. Unless and until it's a question on a game show on which I am a contestant, I won't worry about it too much either way  Wink

btw, there is a very tiny similarity you can make: in Westbound, there is a minor "revenge/demon from the past" issue with the Scott character, as the Virginia Mayo character has basically left him for the bad guy. Of course, this is not really comparable to the revenge themes of the other movies, which involve far more serious stuff; but for whatever it's worth, just thought I'd throw it out there. (Do you think it is possible that that point was put in there specifically for that reason, ie. as an attempt to have SOME similarity with the RC films, as superficial as it may be?)

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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2012, 02:12:00 AM »

Maybe, I don't know. Possible. But as I also mentioned it was only a job for Boetticher, while i think taht the Ranown guys were aware what they were doing with the other films. And Boettichers early westerns are also only minor films. Save probably his first one The Cimarron Kid, an actioner with some stylized scenes.

Generally it is often named as part of the cycle for the mere fact that it was done by Boetticher with Scott, but as I said for me it is misleading.

D&D, btw I'm surprised of your high rating for this film. I would give it only a 4 or maybe a 5/10.

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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2012, 09:47:36 AM »

D&D, btw I'm surprised of your high rating for this film. I would give it only a 4 or maybe a 5/10.
I'd only go as high as a "3."

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« Reply #13 on: January 17, 2012, 03:20:24 PM »

It was an enjoyable movie. Maybe I went a bit high, maybe it's no more than a 7. But certainly higher than a 3 or 4  Smiley

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« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2013, 01:28:46 PM »

I don't consider this a part of the cycle either. Westbound could have been directed by anyone on the lot and lacks any subtext, psychological aspects, underlying themes, passion, etc. It's just an average 70 min oater, and surprisingly a little sluggish given the quick runtime. The score/theme was really annoying too.

On the positive side, you get to look at Karen Steele and the night scenes in the town were well lit.

6/10. Forgettable.

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