Randolph Scott in Decision at Sundown (1967)

Shaking it Up at Sundown

Bart Allison (Randolph Scott) has spent years on the trail of Tate Kimbrough (John Carroll) looking for revenge over something Tate did whilst Bart was away fighting in the war. Along with his pal Sam (Noah Beery Jr.) they ride in to the town of Sundown on the day that Kimbrough is due to wed Lucy Summerton (Karen Steele) and Bart marches in to the ceremony to first put a stop to it and then take up shelter in an old barn. As Bart and Sam find themselves pinned down by Tate and his men the rest of the town have time to reflect on what has happened in their town since Kimbrough and his men arrived as they begin to realise what a bully Kimbrough has been.

I've watched a fair amount of Randolph Scott movies and one thing which I always felt was wrong was that far too often he was cast as the happy good guy, the decent guy with a smile who wins the girl and so on and so forth. You see when Randolph Scott had the opportunity to play it mean and moody he brought a real edge of darkness to a character to the point of being shockingly nasty. That is the stand out aspect of "Decision at Sundown" as Randolph Scott delivers one of his meanest portrayals and is shockingly effective as he never cracks a smile and looks like he would rip your head off if you got on the wrong side of him.

Once you get past how effective Scott is at playing good guy Bart as mean and moody what you have left is this slowly unravelling of a town where the people don't realise that they have been bullied in to supporting Kimbrough without really knowing it and then waking up to realise how he and his thugs have taken over. It is interesting enough and typically there are some moments of action and drama in there. But "Decision at Sundown" lacks tension as with Bart and Sam waiting out in a barn you expect there to be some sense of impending doom but that never materialises and lets the whole movie down.

What this all boils down to is that "Decision at Sundown" has its plus points which include Randolph Scott getting to play a mean and moody good guy. But considering the set up the lack of tension really lets this down.