BUCHANAN RIDES ALONE gets more of a pass than it deserves from reviewers enamored of the clutch of small-scale late-50s westerns Randolph Scott made with director Budd Boetticher. The flimsiest of the batch, this has a lighter area code than the grim zone of revenge the others occupied. Mild for a few chuckles maybe if you watch it with an old buddy who has a fondness for the genre and can tolerate the fakey look to the costumes and ‘this’ll do’ settings, the contrivances in setup, weak characterizations and the time-fiddling unlikeliness of the modest and silly shebang.
Amiable drifter (Scott) runs into one of those crooked, family-dominated towns (paging your average metropolis) that need an outsider to stir the greed pot, using a Colt .45 as ladle. ‘Agry’ (short for aggravation?) is run by the corrupt Agry clan, who fill the offices of judge, sheriff and hotel manager. They also have a suave hired pistolero (Craig Stevens, just about to begin 114 episodes as Peter Gunn ). Randy gets framed unjustly. Will Our Man Scott outsmart (and out-smart-aleck) them? Outdraw? If you have to guess, you’d best leave town, stranger.
Both overplotted and undernourished, albeit with a few good lines here and there. Bland cast has two hardies that give it some juice: L.Q. Jones and Peter Whitney. Jones was still in his folksy comic period (adding country-fried zest to Raoul Walsh’s WW2 epics Battle Cry and The Naked And The Dead ), before that would turn into downright feral rednecks for Sam Peckinpah (Ride The High Country, Major Dundee and The Wild Bunch). Whitney had started acting in the early 40s and was a familiar face from many TV shows of the 50s and 60s, often as a gross backwoods varmint, bearlike. He hams it up enough to help enliven a blasé crew of villains.
Film turned a tidy profit, grossing $2,200,000. Running times listed vary from 78 minutes to 103. Less would be better: there ain’t much there to start with. With Barry Kelley, Tol Avery, Manuel Rojas, Joe de Santis and William Leslie.