Saturday, June 30, 2007

Buchanan Rides Alone

This was adapted from a Gold Medal novel by "Jonas Ward" (William Ard, I think) called The Name's Buchanan. That's what the movie should have been called, since Randolph repeats the line several times. It's a weird movie, and Scott looks either amused or bemused (I couldn't decide which) all the way through. He gets into some action in the first few scenes, but after that he sort of wanders through the movie being acted upon instead of taking action: he falls into and out of the hands of a crooked lawman, sits stoically when he's about to be hanged, stands stoically when he's about to be shot in the back. Not like the Randolph Scott I know.

I was bemused, myself, at some of the worst plotting I've seen in a western in a long time. I'd expected better from a Scott/Boetticher collaboration.
Here's what I mean. Let's say you're Scott and you have the drop on three killers. You and your pards tie them up and leave. Would you have (A) left one of the killers tied separately from the other two so that he could scoot over to them, (B) tied the knots so poorly that the killers could get loose in under 30 seconds, (C) left all their guns in the room with them, (D) left their horses right outside? I know I wouldn't have, but that's exactly what happens.

Aside from that, the movie's supposedly set in California, yet Scott rides past saguaro cactus all the time. Even
I know better than that, and I don't know anything.

This was and okay little movie, but that's about it.
Maybe it's supposed to be funny. Whatever it is, it's not one of the high points of the Scott/Boetticher canon.


  1. Jeff Meyerson8:43 AM

    You're right, Bill, it was pretty forgettable. It was no Ride the High Country.

  2. I recall being disappointed in this one, too, but I loved the Buchanan novels that Ard wrote when I read them back in the Sixties. Don't know how they would hold up now, though.

  3. I've read only one of the novel, which I enjoyed, but not the one this movie was based on. Didn't someone ghost one or two of these for Ard later in the series?

  4. Fred Blosser10:38 AM

    I haven't seen it, but from reading about it, I have the impression that it was meant to be something of a spoof.

    Brian Garfield wrote one of the later books in the series, BUCHANAN'S GUN.

  5. It was probably a spoof, and I just wasn't in on the joke. Thanks for the info on the Garfield ghost job.

  6. Richard Heft12:22 PM

    Most of the Randolph Scott - Budd Boetticher collaborations were written by Burt Kennedy. But BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE and DECISION AT SUNDOWN were both written by Charles Lang, and in both cases, he didn't quite "get it." BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE is famously the weakest in the series, despite the rather charming performance of a very young L.Q. Jones. My own impression of the movie is that it appears to be a comedy made by men with no particular sense of humor.

  7. Now that makes sense.

  8. William Ard wrote the first five books in the Buchanan series. He died after starting the sixth one, BUCHANAN ON THE PROD, which was completed by Robert Silverberg. As Fred has noted, the next one, BUCHANAN'S GUN, was written by Brian Garfield. After that there were fifteen more books in the series, all written by William R. Cox. I generally like Cox's work (one of his Westerns, BIGGER THAN TEXAS, was the first Gold Medal I ever read), but I never cared much for his Buchanan books.

  9. Thanks, James. I like Cox's crime novels quite a bit, but I've read a couple of his westerns that I didn't particularly care for.