This week’s DVD release of the Budd Boetticher Box Set is especially good news to me. Among the box’s five films is Comanche Station (1960), one of the five westerns featured in my book Screen Savers. That means that there are now thirty films available on DVD of the forty films discussed at length in the book. Only ten to go!
The set features the five westerns that director Boetticher made with star Randolph Scott at Columbia. There are two others, Seven Men from Now (already on DVD) and Westbound, both from Warner Brothers. The Boetticher/Scott partnership is one of the genre’s most important director-star collaborations, right up there with John Ford and John Wayne or Anthony Mann and James Stewart. The seven Boetticher/Scott westerns, each under 80 minutes, are noted for their simplicity, economy, and unstinting feeling of authenticity.
Comanche Station, the final picture in the series, is my favorite. Past sixty by this time, Scott had never been more effective as a movie actor, performing with poignant reserve. In Comanche Station, he’s searching for his wife who was captured by Comanches ten years earlier. He rescues someone else’s kidnapped wife (Nancy Gates) and makes a perilous journey to bring her back to her family. Along the way they meet up with baddie Claude Akins and his two young sidekicks. There’s not a single interior scene in this film, just as there isn’t in the great Stewart-Mann western The Naked Spur. Boetticher’s masterful use of long takes and his gorgeous wide-screen compositions make it a beautiful ride. This tale of painful emotion and jolting violence, set against some gnarled landscapes, is grippingly realized. Burt Kennedy’s penetrating dialogue has unusual (for a western) intimacy and introspection.
You can read much more about Comanche Station in Screen Savers and on this site. And now, at last, you can put the movie right onto your Netflix queue!