"Seven Men From Now" standard DVD review - Home Theater Forum and Systems - HomeTheaterShack.com

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post #1 of 1 Old 08-11-08, 07:42 PM Thread Starter
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Richard W. Haines
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Location: Croton-on-Hudson, NY
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"Seven Men From Now" standard DVD review

In the 1950's the Westerns had so saturated the market that directors
had to try something different to keep the genre going. Of course
it was probably the most reliable genre in film history, from the silent
era to the seventies when it fizzled out. Westerns are still made today
but they are few and far between.

One film-maker who made some very interesting "B" movie Westerns was
Bud Boetticher. Now the term "B movie" has meant different things over
the decades. Today it usually means a low budget horror or exploitation
film (often with substandard production values and performances) but
in the fifties it meant a second feature that didn't cost as much as
an "A" film. B movie Westerns usually had fine actors and cinematography
but relied on exterior locations or standing sets to tell their story and
save on production costs. Boetticher's pictures fell into the "psychological"
or "adult" Western variation that was popular at the time. A classic example
fwould be "3:10 to Yuma" which was recently remade as a big budget
film. These were different than the typical Westerns made in the thirties and
forties where there was a clear cut deliniation between the 'good guys'
and the 'bad guys'. Boetticher movies depict their characters in
shades of gray. Good guys are often stubborn or cruel and the bad guys
likeable rogues and more interesting. Since these films were meant
to be shown as 'filler' they run less than 80 minutes which means there
is no padding on the narrative and the stories are tightly constructed
and directed.

Boetticher formed a partnership with aging light comedian, Randolph
Scott, who changed his persona as he got older. His weathered face
and stoic personality fit nicely into the adult Western drama and his
films don't date at all. The Boetticher/Scott cyle of pictures are worth
checking out although thus far only one has been released on DVD,
"Seven Men From Now". You can pick it up in a discount bin at various
retail outlets along with others of this type. It's probably the best one
the team made and a good introduction to them.

You'll be surprised how much this film influenced some of Eastwood's later
Westerns that he directed. This is a character driven story but when
the action breaks out, it's pretty violent. The plot is nothing special,
it's the style in which it's filmed and edited that makes it interesting.
Scott is an ex-sheriff hunting down seven men who not only robbed
a Wells Fargo wagon of twenty grand but killed his wife. He accidently
runs into two homesteaders traveling to California and agrees to accompany
them until he gets to the town where he'll have a showdown with the
thieves. However, another two men are tracking him too. One is played
by Lee Marvin and he gives one of his best performances in this picture.
Menacing and charming at the same time. He plans on robbing Scott of
the money after the showdown with the crooks. But...no one is who they
appear to be and there are numerous plot twists and double crosses before
the climax. Even I was surprised how it turned out. The supporting cast
is excellent and like "3:10 to Yuma" there is a taunt narrative drive that
maintains interest. As I've said in other posts, I always enjoy stories
where the characters play head games with each other...and the audience
too which keeps you guessing. The film is very short but it works at this

For a 1956 title, there are ample extras which is rare for vintage Westerns.
There's a documentary about the director which makes you appreciate what
a daring (if not reckless) adventurer he was. The commentary track by a
film historian is also good and he points out themes and story structure to enhance
your enjoyment of the movie...after the fact of course. I didn't know that John
Wayne produced the film but couldn't star in it because he was making "The

There are some problems with the presentation. While it's been released
in the 16:9 anamorphically enhanced ratio (1.85 in theaters) and mono
sound and the image has been digitally cleaned up so there is no wear
or damage, it's a Warnercolor movie so there's a bit of grain in camera
negative footage and a lot of grain in the opticals which was typical
of all Eastmancolor films back then. Technicolor movies had first
generation opticals, no grain and better color. Of course this being a
B movie, they couldn't afford it and were stuck with Warners shoddy
in house facility. The restoration team did the best they could with
what they had to work with. The cinematography which is primarily
outdoors looks fine as does the color but there are so many fades
and dissolves, you'll notice the quality difference when ever they
appear in a scene. When the image cuts back to camera negative,
you'll see the visual 'pop' and the sharpness improves dramatically.
I guess it's like anything. Do you want it good (Technicolor) or do
you want it cheap (Warnercolor)? You got what you paid for back then.

The other problem is one I find distracting but try to ignore. There
are no blood squibs when someone gets shot. In fact there is no
blood at all in the film. It's a bit disorienting when someone clutches
their stomach and falls to the ground with no indication of where the
bullet hit them. Even when they cut back to the dead body, there is
no mark on them at all. There were certainly some films in the era that showed
blood (i.e. "Man of the West") but not this one so it's something you'll have to
get used to. It takes away some of the realism that otherwise is
accurately depicted in that characters are shown to be dirty, unshaven
and even muddy rather than the clean cut types of cowboys shown in
earlier decades.

So, if you like these types of Westerns, I recommend the Boetticher/Scott
features. Also, the Anthony Mann/James Stewart pictures are also worth
screening which are similar in style and content.

I guess the reason I've always liked Westerns is that they represented an
era in America when there was a great deal of individual freedom.
So many of our liberties have been curtailed if not eliminated in the twentieth
century, it's fun to imagine what it would be like in a time when you could
pretty much do as you liked and travel to where you wanted to go without
being accountable to the government. There was no income tax nor FBI
and CIA spying on everyone and tracking their activities and movement.
I know it's a mythic West depicted in the movies and there were brutal
realities like little law enforcement and no electricity but it's still fun to
imagine that level of freedom, the likes of which will never return here or
anywhere else on the globe.

Last edited by Richard W. Haines; 08-12-08 at 04:10 PM.
Richard W. Haines is offline  


"seven , now" , review , standard

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