- (1898–1987)Randolph Scott was the standard by which to judge Western cowboy stars and the perfect image of the American cowboy. Tall and lean, Scott had a tough, square-jawed face, lined and weathered but handsome. Rumor has it that he smiled and laughed in one of his films, but evidently the footage is lost. Scott had a serious look about him in all that he did. Afortuitous encounter with future Hollywood mogul Howard Hughes landed Scott bit parts in films during the 1920s. In 1939 he played a secondary role in Jesse James with Henry Fonda, and by the 1940s he began a long career as a leading Western star, playing in such early films as Western Union (1941), Belle Starr (1941), and Abilene Town (1946). By the 1950s Randolph Scott had become one of the most recognizable names in Westerns, easily working his way through a steady if undistinguished career. In 1956, though, Scott began making a series of films with Budd Boetticher that changed his reputation from that of a competent actor to that of a serious actor in serious films. Seven Men from Now (1956) is one of the best films of the 1950s. Scott plays ex-sheriff Ben Stride, a man who has just lost his wife due to personal negligence. He sets out on the trail of her killers, knowing that he had some personal responsibility in her death. But he has no personal language with which to express his feelings, even to himself. Only through action can he express his sublimated frustrations—action in the process of gunning down the killers, but also hindered action in an illicit romantic attraction for the young wife (Gail Russell) of a couple he finds out on the trail in need of help. Scott followed this film with The Tall T(1957), Decision at Sundown(1957), Ride Lonesome(1959), and Comanche Station(1960), all with Boetticher. Randolph Scott’s last film, Ride the High Country (1962), was the first significant film of another major director, whose work would dominate the 1960s, Sam Peckinpah. When the shift in Westerns began with the popular spaghetti Westernsin the 1960s, Scott resisted going to Europe to work in European Westerns as so many American actors did, and settled into a comfortable and long retirement. He will be remembered for his persona of a man of psychological depth who nevertheless could throw a gun, albeit reluctantly.
Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. Paul Varner. 2012.
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