Seven Men from Now Budd Boetticher

A fine western from the team of director Budd Boetticher and writer Burt Kennedy, whose apt teaming begets a surprisingly gentle and low-key genre effort. Randolph Scott saddles up as a man searching for his wife's seven killers — the direct result of his inability to provide for her. He encounters a westward-bound husband and wife (Walter Reed and Gail Russell) and "an old nemesis" in ex-con Lee Marvin, though the husband proves more treacherous than even the career criminal. What's refreshing about this film (and Boetticher efforts in general) is its uncanny civility: Scott isn't a rip-roaring man's man but a taciturn cowboy who's disappointed in the corruption of the world. Though he refuses to let it change his solid code of ethics, his decision makes him a loner and an outcast. Marvin's character also surprises in his adherence to principles and respect for the older man, paradoxical behaviour in an outlaw and wild man. A quiet pathos hangs around the film like a mist, and it distinguishes the movie from rowdier entries in the genre. Call it a "chamber western" or anything you like, it's a fascinating picture from an anomalous western director. Extras include an excellent feature commentary from scholar Jim Kitses, a solid documentary on Boetticher (with an interesting detour into Kennedy's contribution to his oeuvre), a sad featurette on the troubled life of Gail Russell (of the "John Wayne Stock Company"), a brief exploration of the Lone Pine, California location, a photo gallery, and a reel of trailers from John Wayne's Batjac productions, including one for Seven Men from Now. (Paramount)