Mr. Rifftides has Randolph Scott on his mind. Me, too, so mark your calendar for December 21 at eight p.m. EST, when Turner Classic Movies will be airing the premiere of Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That, a documentary about the great Hollywood director who made a series of Westerns starring Scott that rank high on the list of insufficiently known classic American films. A Man Can Do That will be followed at 9:30 EST by Seven Men From Now, the first of the Boetticher-Scott collaborations, digitally restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and soon to be released for the first time on DVD. (I’ve seen a screener of the documentary, by the way, and it’s a solid piece of work.)
To commemorate these twin events, American Cowboy has made the text of my essay “What Randolph Scott Knew” available on its Web site:
Scott was secure enough to let his colleagues do the talking, knowing that his gritty, hard-faced on-screen presence would speak for itself. The dashing young leading man of the Thirties now looked as though he’d been carved from a stump, and every word he spoke reeked of disillusion. Yet he continually found himself forced to make moral choices that were always clear but rarely easy. What Scott should do at any given moment is never in doubt, but we also understand that doing it will never make him “happy” in any conventional sense of the word: he must do the right thing for its own sake, not in the hope of any immediate reward….