(director: Budd Boetticher; screenwriter: Burt Kennedy; cinematographer: Charles Lawton, Jr.; editor: Edwin Bryant; music: Heinz Roemheld; cast: Randolph Scott (Jefferson Cody), Claude Akins (Ben Lane), Nancy Gates (Nancy Lowe), Skip Homeier (Frank), Richard Rust (Dobie), Dyke Johnson (John Lowe); Runtime: 74; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry Joe Brown/Budd Boetticher; Columbia Pictures; 1960)
“An old-fashioned western that still seems fresh.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Underrated filmmaker Budd Boetticher (“Seven Men From Now”/”Ride Lonesome”/”The Tall T”/”Decision at Sundown”/Buchanan Rides Alone”/”Westbound”)made seven superior western movies with Randolph Scott, starting in 1956, with “Comanche” being the last and one of the five such films brilliantly scripted by Burt Kennedy.
The stoical, taciturn, loner Cody (Randolph Scott) barters his Winchester rifle and five dollars worth of goods to trade with the Comanches to rescue captured white red-headed woman Nancy Lowe (Nancy Gates). On the trail home, at Comanche Station, Cody runs into ruffian Ben Lane (Claude Akins) and his two young inexperienced lost soul adventurers, the gentle Dobie (Richard Rust) and the forsaken Frank (Skip Homeier). When Cody was a major in the Army, he had the unscrupulous bounty hunter Lane court-martialed and booted out of the army.
For the last ten years Cody has become obsessed with finding his kidnapped by Indians beloved wife, and is once again disappointed that Nancy was not his wife. Though Nancy’s husband offered a $5,000 reward, Cody didn’t know that but did the dangerous rescue because that’s what he has been doing these past ten years. Meanwhile Lane sees this as his big opportunity to make big money and plots to kill Cody (making it look like the Indians did it) and then kill Nancy. Her hubby said he would pay the reward even if his wife were brought back dead, as he wanted closure.
How Cody crosses the Comanche Territory (filmed in the northern California region of Lone Pine, near the foot of Mount Whitney) and gets Nancy back home to Lordsburgh is executed with great skill. During many a campfire conversation, all the characters’ wants, fears, aspirations and loneliness are revealed. The victim Nancy wonders if her hubby can take her back, and the straight-shooter Cody tells her that a man would take her back if he loved her enough.
“Comanche” does right by honoring the traditional conventions of the Hollywood western, as an old-fashioned western that still seems fresh.
REVIEWED ON 4/19/2011 GRADE: A-