Ride Lonesome. Released 1959 by Columbia Pictures Corporation; Directed by Budd Boetticher; 73 minutes; Cast: Randolph Scott (Ben Brigade), Karen Steele (Mrs. Carrie Lane), Pernell Roberts (Sam Boone), James Best (Billy John), Lee Van Cleef (Frank), James Coburn (Whit).
Ride Lonesome is a nice solid western. It features venerable Scott as bounty hunter Ben Brigade who captures Billy John in the opening scenes. Billy is wanted for murder in Santa Cruz and reluctantly he gives himself up but tells “the boys” to go get his brother Frank to come rescue him. At a stagecoach station Brigade meets up with Boone and Whit as well as Mrs. Lane. Boone and Whit know each other from years ago and we find that Boone is also looking to take Billy in but for amnesty, not the reward. However, things are not right at the station–the owner, Mr. Lane, had taken off after some horses that were run off by Apaches. Then the stage comes roaring into the station full of dead people killed by the Apaches. Eventually the war band shows up at the station seeking to trade a horse for Mrs. Lane (an out of place platinum blonde). Brigade tries to bluff his way with the Indians but Mrs. Lane freaks out when she sees that the horse in question was her husband’s. She screams and the Apaches take off. Knowing they will be attacked if they stay at the station all five set out toward Santa Cruz.
Shortly after leaving the station they fight off an attack by the Apaches in an action packed sequence. The characters then get to know each other more along the ride and at the various stops and camps. Also Boone suspects that Brigade is actually moving the group slow enough to allow Frank and his gang to catch up to them. He is quick enough to know that the real target for Brigade is Frank. Boone still wants to get Billy turned in to gain amnesty and even plans to eventually kill Brigade if necessary. Eventually Frank’s group catches up and there is a show down between Brigade and Frank while Billy dangles from the “Hanging Tree”. Then a short confrontation between Boone and Brigade and then it is fin de film.
This was a great but short movie with all the right western elements: very scenic setting, a tight plot, strong characters, good action and pacing, and a good ending. It was the film debut of a young James Coburn (and Lee Van Cleef looks pretty young too). Some ideas for role playing games would be the setting up a “Stagecoach Station” for a small terrain board; Apache (or other native tribesmen) can be played more like a random wilderness encounter if characters move through the wrong territory; and the role of bounty hunters as a primary theme for a scenario. Below are some screenshots of this movie. The only real western style structures featured in this movie was the stagecoach station and some adobe ruins.