Aggro in Agry
Everything about "Buchanan Rides Alone" screams western B-movie, from the cheerful lone cowboy through to the corrupt and devious brothers who run the town of Agry. In fact whilst the story maybe full of back stabbing between the brothers it is not that amazing or at least not to the point that you will remember it. But then there are a few things which makes "Buchanan Rides Alone" feel more than just another 50s western and basically it is the combination of Randolph Scott, director Budd Boetticher and writer Charles Lang because they make the subtle humour of the movie fun. Be it the amusing script, the way Scott says it or the way Boetticher directs it, it is those lighter moments which makes "Buchanan Rides Alone" entertaining.
As Tom Buchanan (Randolph Scott - 7th Cavalry) cheerfully passes through the border town of Agry he decides to stop and finds himself in the midst of a family war when he comes to the aid of Mexican Juan de la Vega (Manuel Rojas). With Sheriff Lew Agry (Barry Kelley) planning to hang them both for the murder of his nephew Roy (William Leslie), whilst stealing Buchanan's money, Judge Simon Agry (Tol Avery) has other plans as Juan's father is wealthy and will pay handsomely for his release. And in between them is Amos Agry (Peter Whitney), the simple minded brother who flits between his brothers depending on who is most likely to come out of it better.
"Buchanan Rides Alone" does start in an incredibly standard way as Tom Buchanan rides in to Agry and is made to feel less than welcome by the Sheriff. But then we get the amusement because Buchanan is so self assured that whilst the Sheriff gives him a grilling he just smiles at him, it is something which fills the movie because this is Randolph Scott playing a character who even smiles when there is danger. Anyway the set up to this quickly falls in place as Buchanan ends up in jail with Juan de la Vega, the son of a wealthy Mexican which leads to the Agry brothers wanting a slice of him. You have Judge Simon who will cut a deal with Juan's father; there is Sheriff Lew who would be happy to hang Juan but also wants to cut a deal and then the comically stupid Amos bouncing from brother to brother.
It is really very simple with Buchanan being our hero who tries to save Juan and stop the corrupt brothers not only getting the money Juan's father is willing to pay but also his own which the sheriff stole. But the irony of this is, is that the story is really about the back stabbing Agry brothers who despise each other. Sheriff Lew basically runs the town with his band of heavies but as his brother Simon is the Judge has to obey him, so when Simon cuts a deal to let Juan go rather than hang him Lew wants to muscle in on the action. And then you have the humour of Amos, the other brother who flicks between sides as to who ever he thinks is winning, not so much out of being back stabbing but because he is too stupid to stand on his own.
Now this is actually quite humorous and the script which Charles Land is full of all these comical moments. You have to smile when Buchanan calls Agry a $10 town because that's what everything costs and you also have the humour of Buchanan being extremely confident such as when he is dealing with the drunken Roy, having the time to wink at an onlooker. The irony of this is, is that if this wasn't Scott doing tongue in cheek it would have been corny but somehow watching him basically smile through the entire movie and deliver a relaxed humorous character is entertaining.
But Scott is not the only good performance and the trio of Tol Avery, Barry Kelley and Peter Whitney work well as back stabbing siblings especially Whitney who brings so much fun to the movie as Amos. Adding to the fun is L.Q. Jones as Pecos a comical Texan as well as Manuel Rojas who may not be delivering the humour as Juan certainly adds a bit of youth to proceedings.
What this all boils down to is that "Buchanan Rides Alone" is basically a typical 1950s western b-movie with a storyline which is not that memorable. But then it is the moments of humour and funny lines which makes it entertaining, well that and Randolph Scott almost having a smile on his face for the entire movie.