BluRay/DVD Reviews


By • Dec 20th, 2005 •

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(Paramount Home Entertainment) 1956. 78 mins. Color. Widescreen format, enhanced for 16X9 screens. Includes docs on Budd Boetticher, Gail Russell, and the evolution of the film.

Last year’s Essential Westerns series at Film Forum helped raise the profile of one of the most criminally underrated, and possibly the most interesting of the B picture directors. Budd Boetticher one-upped his comparably macho (and better known) peers like Sam Fuller, John Huston and Nic Ray by traveling to Mexico to embark on a colorful, but short-lived career as a bullfighter. From there, he found his way to Hollywood as a consultant to the bullfight pic BLOOD AND SAND. After a short stint in the service, Boetticher managed to get steady work as a director of micro budgeted second features. These features, mainly westerns, featured Randolph Scott and an array of baroque characters played by the likes of Richard Boone, Pernell Roberts, Lee Van Cleef and Claude Akins.

SEVEN MEN FROM NOW is widely considered Boetticher’s masterpiece and has just gotten a long overdue special edition release on DVD. John Wayne’s Batjac company produced the film (it is said that Wayne was interested in the project but was tied up with the production of THE SEARCHERS). The film, rarely screened, and difficult to find in any form other than grainy bootlegs, has been in limbo since the death of the Duke in 1979. It was the first of a series of near historic collaborations between director Boetticher and the middle-aged Randolph Scott. This series is often referred to as the Ranown cycle (a combination of producer Harry Joe Brown and Randolph Scott’s names), although this film is not technically part of this series. SEVEN MEN FROM NOW was the first of this unofficial series of westerns in which Scott cemented his iconic status as a screen great.

Scott had worked steadily throughout his consistent, but undistinguished career as an actor (he was a hunkier Ralph Bellamy figure to Cary Grant, and stiff competition for Irene Dunne’s affection, in MY FAVORITE WIFE). Now, in middle age, Scott looked all of a sudden to be the most convincing cowboy the screen had ever produced. His reserve and calm are almost Oriental in nature, which gives his work in these films a modern quality. Scott was never better than in SEVEN MEN FROM NOW, in which his restraint played beautifully against the florid Lee Marvin. Marvin (the villain in SEVEN MEN FROM NOW) has a near-dandyish quality that was his trademark until his taciturn work in such genre classics as THE DIRTY DOZEN and POINT BLANK helped define his image as that of the inscrutable hardass.
(Indeed, Marvin’s over the top death scene is the only comic relief the film allows itself).

The film’s extras are especially rich, with an excellent commentary from Film Historian James Kitses, a documentary on Gail Russell and an exceptionally great documentary on Boetticher which documents the director’s life, work, themes and legacy. The documentary has appreciative interviews with the likes of Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino as well as interview footage with Boetticher (including unbelievable footage of his participation in equestrian events).

Most of the Boetticher westerns are unavailable at present, and it is hoped that this disc will help pave the way for future releases of his rich work. At the very least, SEVEN MEN FROM NOW will have the availability and profile that it deserves as a result of this fine collector’s edition that Paramount has assembled.

Directed by Budd Boetticher.
Story and Screenplay by Burt Kennedy.
Produced by Andrew McLaglen and Robert E. Morrison.

With: Randoloph Scott, Gail Russell, Lee Marvin.

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