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The Straight Shooter

The no-bullshit Budd Boetticher took an unsentimental approach with his Ranown Cycle westerns

Decision at Sundown (9 p.m. Friday, June 8) -- Easily the most downbeat of the Ranown westerns. Bart Allison (Scott) rides into Sundown to kill the tyrannical town boss, whom he blames for his wife's suicide. Thanks to his crusade, just about everybody, including the villain, gets a shot at redemption. (1957)

Buchanan Rides Alone (7:30 p.m. Friday, June 15) -- In a small Tex-Mex border hamlet run by a corrupt family, Tom Buchanan (Scott) befriends a young Mexican who avenges his sister's honor by fatally shooting the spoiled son of a politically ambitious judge. The judge is more than willing to free his son's killer in return for a hefty campaign contribution. But the money can't be held by anyone for very long -- and thanks to Buchanan, neither can the killer. Almost, but not quite, a black comedy, Buchanan has an understated but richly satisfying flavor of self-parody. (1958)

Ride Lonesome (9 p.m. Friday, June 15) -- The best of the cycle finds bounty hunter Ben Brigade (Scott) bringing a captured outlaw (James Best) across Indian territory. Two semi-reformed bandits (a pre-Bonanza Pernell Roberts, whose insouciant preening suggests a Wild West version of WWF's The Rock, and a callow James Coburn) want to wrest control of Brigade's captive in order to claim an amnesty offered for their past crimes. But Brigade isn't interested in amnesty, or even a reward. Rather, he wants to lure the outlaw's older brother (Lee Van Cleef) into a forced feeding of just desserts. (1959)

Shadow catcher: Budd Boetticher (left, seated) always thought his hero (Randolph Scott, center) could trade places with the villain, even when saving beauties like Maureen O'Sullivan (right).
Museum of Fine Arts
Shadow catcher: Budd Boetticher (left, seated) always thought his hero (Randolph Scott, center) could trade places with the villain, even when saving beauties like Maureen O'Sullivan (right).

Details

June 8 through June 29; 713-639-7531
Museum of Fine Arts' Brown Auditorium, 1001 Bissonnet

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Comanche Station (7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22) -- The final chapter is a straightforward western drama with an affectingly melancholy aftertaste. Jefferson Cody (Scott), obsessed with finding the wife who was kidnapped by Comanches more than a decade ago, barters with Indians for the release of another white woman (Nancy Gates), the wife of a man who has posted a huge reward for her dead-or-alive return. Hearty outlaw Ben Lane (Claude Akins) tries to muscle in on the transition, but Cody won't be dissuaded from competing his chivalrous task. He remains true to himself, even though his noble gesture brings him no nearer a closure. The ending suggests he will never stop searching. Which, of course, makes him the paradigmatic Budd Boetticher hero. (1960)

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