The seven films directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott made between 1956 and 1960 are Westerns that behave like few other Western films. It’s hard describe what is so different about these works; like most Westerns they feature a character that might be described as a “hero,” sometimes with a sidekick as in Decision at Sundown, and villains. There are horses, gunplay, rough desert landscapes, small Western towns, even Indians. There is often a saloon, a tough saloon moll, as in this film, and rigid sense of code that the hero is determined to uphold. On the surface Boetticher’s works sound perfectly in sync with the genre. Yet his films are significantly different.
you was goin’ to kill him? Bart, you must be
I’ve hunted Kimbrough, but he didn’t know it.
Before I settle with him, I want him to know he’s
been, the truth isn’t an easy thing to face up to.
No man, including Tate Kimbrough, can take
another man’s wife away him unless she really
wants to be taken. So maybe you didn’t lose
anything that was really very worthwhile.
Seldom has a Western ended in a world so relativistic, with a hero who can help everyone but himself. His values, strangely, were perhaps the right ones provoked by the wrong situations. Accordingly, while moral values have been restored to Sundown, at sunup Allison will only be faced by a deeper quandary wherein justice, as he knows it, can no longer be served and wherein he himself has been duped by an innocent pride.