T. It.: L’albero Della Vendetta; Ass. R.: Jerrold Bernstein; Scen.: Burt Kennedy; F.: Charles Lawton Jr.; Mo.: Jerome Thoms; Scgf.: Robert Peterson; Mu.: Heinz Roemheld; Su.: Harry Mills; Int.: Randolph Scott (Ben Brigade), Karen Steele (Sig.Ra Lane), Pernell Roberts (Sam Boone), James Best (Billy John), Lee Van Cleef (Frank), James Coburn (Whit); Prod.: Budd Boetticher Per Ranown Pictures Corp; Pri. Pro.: 15 Febbraio 1959 35mm. D.: 75’. Col.
Travels through a dangerous country. An austere life and what life might be. Circumstances in which there are continuous clashes within a little group of people, between the ill-assorted friends, combinations of friendship and of profound contradictions, real life characterised by nostalgia and great pleasures, also violence and humour in a way that recalls that the director of the legendary series Ranown (directed by Boetticher, producer Brown and writer Burt Kennedy) was the most evident and the strongest influence on Peckinpah in some aspects of his work. “Pas de symboles, pas d’arrière-plans philosophiques, pas l’ombre de psychologie” (“No symbols, no philosophical background, no shadow of psychology”), wrote André Bazin, judging Boetticher’s Seven Men from Now the “perfect western” and noting that in the director’s westerns “une splendeur spécifique surgit de la superposition de l’extrême convention et de l’extrême féalité” (“A specific splendour emerges from the superim-position of extreme convention and extreme fidelity”). Moreover: “Boetticher a su se servir prodigieusement du paysage, de la matière variée de la terre, du grain et de la forme des rochers. Je ne pense pas non plus que la photogénie du cheval ait été depuis fort longtemps aussi bien exploitée” (“Boetticher has understood how to use the landscape in a prodigious fashion, the varied matter of the earth, of the grain and the form of the rocks. Moreover I do not think that the photogeny of the horse has been so well exploited for a very long time”).
“A man has to have a reason to ride a horse through country like this”, summed up Randolph Scott in the film Ride Lonesome. Again it is the story of a vendetta, as often in the films of William S. Hart – whose most authentic heir as a western star was Randolph Scott. The protagonist is a prisoner of the demons of life, and will not be free until he avenges the murder of his wife. The killer, arch-delinquent Lee Van Cleef (we can very well imagine that Sergio Leone had spotted him just from this role), has hanged Randy’s wife. But he is not the only delinquent in the story and the brilliance of the narrative comes from the way in which the demarcation of the frontier between the “good” and the “bad” is always ambiguous. The composition is also humorously varied, full of comic charm at the centre of which is an understanding of the fundamental things of life, like the consciousness of how unattainable is simple happiness in our existence. Everyone seems to remain just outside this, except for the hero. Also the reward of goodness is sad. Life is something that goes beyond the moral.
Peter von Bagh
Digitally Restored By Sony Columbia At Cineric Laboratory (New York): The Severely Faded Original Negative Was Scanned At 4k On A Specially-Adapted Oxberry Film Scanner To Convert The Various Elements Into Data Files In 10-Bit Log Dpx. Color Grading Was On The Lustre And The Film Out To A New Negative Was On The Arrilaser.