I decided to have another look at Burt Kennedy’s writing work for other directors for the book I’m writing about his own Westerns.

7 Men From Now holds up viewing after viewing as one of the best of the genre. It’s astounding that this was Burt’s first script to be produced, and based on an interview with Sense of Cinema only the second he finished. In the end, I’m glad that John Wayne turned it down, apparently wanting to take a break from Westerns, because Randolph Scott is perfect as Stride. He is quiet, sturdy, representing the righteous code of the law. Watch his face during the final showdown with Lee Marvin; it doesn’t change the entire scene, a lesson in perfect film acting.

Marvin is perhaps the highlight of the entire picture, proving once again that a strong villain is essential to making a great Western. And what makes him such a good antagonist is not how evil he is but the complexity of his character. Take for instance the moment where he saves Scott’s life or the fact that he’s an ally for more than half the picture. Kennedy knew how to write a good bad guy and Budd Boetticher knew how to direct one.

The performance I appreciated more on this watch was Walter Reed. He could have played into the weak husband role too much but he keeps it all subtle, even his character’s reversal at the end which is handled with such grace.

This is an incredible movie, essential viewing for anyone who wants to understand the Western.

Watched on Vimeo.