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The Ranown Westerns (4K UHD Review)

REVIEW OVERVIEW

The Film (The Tall T)
The Film (Decision at Sundown)
The Film (Buchanan Rides Alone)
The Film (Ride Lonesome)
The Film (Comanche Station)
The Video (Overall) (The Tall T)
The Video (Overall) (Decision at Sundown)
The Video (Overall) (Buchanan Rides Alone)
The Video (Overall) (Ride Lonesome)
The Video (Overall) (Comanche Station)
HDR Effect (The Tall T)
HDR Effect (Decision at Sundown)
HDR Effect (Buchanan Rides Alone)
HDR Effect (Ride Lonesome)
HDR Effect (Comanche Station)
The Audio
The Supplements
Overall

SUMMARY

A collection of five westerns directed by Budd Boetticher starring Randolph Scott that get new life in vibrant new 4K restorations.

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

With the Ranown Westerns collection, Criterion Collection assembles five films directed by Budd Boetticher starring Randolph Scott. In the mid 1950s to 1960, Randolph Scott was as popular a western star as John Wayne, thanks to these B-grade westerns by Budd Boetticher and Ranown Productions (The Tall T is technically not a Ranown production but features all the same core parties of the Ranowns). Since the very last western Scott made with Boetticher in 1960, Comanche Station, these westerns have grown in stature and Boetticher’s work on these compact films has become well regarded.

The collection begins with The Tall T based on a 1955 short story “The Captives” by Elmore Leonard and adapted by Burt Kennedy. Scott plays an easygoing rancher who is taken hostage along with a beautiful newlywed (Maureen O’Sullivan) of a wealthy industrialist and must use his wits and skills to keep them both alive. The next film is 1957’s Decision at Sundown. A film with a slight plot and Scott playing somewhat out of character, it finds the actor playing Bart Allison, a mysterious man who arrives in a town run by a powerful family. With his faithful friend Sam (Noah Beery Jr.) by his side, Bart is out for vengeance, interrupting a wedding and seeking payback for an incident from his past. The entire town dynamic is disrupted thanks to Bart. The third film is Buchanan Rides Alone (1958), wherein Scott plays a Texan who arrives in Agry Town only to be robbed of his cash and framed for murder when he intercedes in a fight. With the young Mexican vaquero he rescued by his side, Buchanan clashes with the town villains. Fourth up is Ride Lonesome (1959), and Scott is again a mysterious bounty hunter who captures a wanted killer but is accosted by two outlaws who insist on riding along with him as he tries to deliver his prisoner. Finally, the collection wraps up with Comanche Station, which, like The Tall T, features a wagon changeover station, the usual gorgeous lady as every Ranown westerns must have, and a gritty cowboy (Scott) who rescues her from the Comanches. He must now get her back home whiel dealing with the danger of the Comanches and other bounty hunters who want to steal his reward.

Each of these films is brief, around 72 minutes, and follows a basic pattern. There is the good guy with dubious motives (Scott), there are the beautiful damsels in distress, and there is the town or way station overrun by greedy outlaws, crooked businessmen, and hapless bystanders. The final film done by Scott and Boetticher together, which is the final film in this collection, sums up all of these things and reworks them in what is the best film in the Ranown cycle since The Tall T.  Any of these films could stand up to the “great” classic westerns such as Rio Bravo, even though they were done on smaller budgets and have abbreviated run times.

  • Ride Lonesome (1959). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • The Tall T (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • The Tall T (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • The Tall T (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • The Tall T (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Randolph Scott in The Tall T (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Ride Lonesome (1959). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Ride Lonesome (1959). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Ride Lonesome (1959). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Ride Lonesome (1959). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Decision at Sundown (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Decision at Sundown (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Decision at Sundown (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Decision at Sundown (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Decision at Sundown (1957). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Comanche Station (1960). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Comanche Station (1960). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Comanche Station (1960). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Comanche Station (1960). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Comanche Station (1960). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • Buchanan Rides Alone (1958). Screen capture courtesy of the Criterion Collection.
  • The Tall T (Criterion Collection)
  • Buchanan Rides Alone (Criterion Collection)
  • Decision at Sundown (Criterion Collection)
  • Ride Lonesome (Criterion Collection)
  • Comanche Station (Criterion Collection)
  • The Ranown Westerns 4K Ultra HD Combo (Criterion Collection)

The Video

All five films in The Ranown Westerns collection from Criterion Collection were restored by Sony Entertainment and scanned in 4K from their original camera negatives. The first three films are in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and the final two films in their original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Each film is encoded in HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision.

These westerns look absolutely stunning, no doubt about it. I own these five westerns on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment and there is zero comparison here. The Mill Creek discs, with all due respect to the budget label, look terrible, but they are a good value. These restorations remove all the noise and source damage but maintain a lot of the granularity without sacrificing detail and texture. The colors also look brilliant, especially in the first two films in the Technicolor dye-transfer format where the color just ‘pops.’ This does drop off noticeably with the third film in the collection, Buchanan Rides Alone, which shifts production to Eastmancolor. This third film also looks the softest of the five, not to say it is soft, just in comparison to the rest. The remaining two films restore that absolute crispness and high frequency grain resolution to the maximum.

The Dolby Vision also brings a lot of specular highlight ‘pop’ and additional color gradations in the transfers. For example, the burning tree in Ride Lonesome, looks dazzling, three-dimensional, and has numerous shades of red and yellow.

The Audio

Each of the films in Ranown Westerns comes with the original English audio mix in LPCM 1.0. They have been restored and remastered from the 35mm original DME magnetic tracks. They do not sound staggeringly great, but given the sources and the vintages, they are more than satisfying, free from egregious amounts of noise like pops and heavy hiss.

The Supplements

The bulk of the featurettes are on the included bonus features Blu-ray Disc (see list below). There are a number of interviews and documentaries, and certain films get introductions (Blu-ray only), and audio commentaries.

Booklet featuring essays by film scholar Tom Gunning and critic Glenn Kenny and information on the transfers.

4K Disc 1 — The Tall T:

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2008 featuring film scholar Jeanine Basinger.

4K Disc 3 – Ride Lonesome:

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2008 featuring film historian Jeremy Arnold.

4K Disc 3 – Comanche Station:

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2008 featuring filmmaker Taylor Hackford.

Blu-ray Disc 1 — The Tall T:

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2008 featuring film scholar Jeanine Basinger.
  • Introduction by Martin Scorsese (1080p; 00:06:55)
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:02:08)

Blu-ray Disc 1 – Decision at Sundown:

Bonus Features:

  • Introduction by Taylor Hackford (1080p; 00:05:48)
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:02:04)

Blu-ray Disc 1 – Buchanan Rides Alone:

Bonus Features:

  • Introduction by Taylor Hackford (1080i; 00:09:29)
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:01:30)

Blu-ray Disc 2 – Ride Lonesome:

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2008 featuring film historian Jeremy Arnold.
  • Introduction by Martin Scorsese (1080p; 00:05:20)
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:02:04)

Blu-ray Disc 2 – Comanche Station:

Bonus Features:

  • Audio commentary recorded in 2008 featuring filmmaker Taylor Hackford.
  • Super 8 Version (1080p; 00:19:40) – This twenty-minute version of Budd Boetticher’s Comanche Station, produced by Columbia Pictures in 1973, was sold on Super 8 prints for home and school use.
  • Trailer (1080p; 00:01:56)

Blu-ray Supplements Disc:

  • Budd Boetticher: A Man Can Do That (1080i; 01:24:22) – This 2005 documentary, which spans the life and career of director Budd Boetticher, features interviews with filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, and others.
  • Cinéma, De Notre Temps: “Boetticher Rides Again” (1080i; 00:59:39) – In this episode of Cinéma, de notre temps, directed by Claude Ventura and written by Philippe Garnier, director Budd Boetticher is interviewed about his career in Hollywood. It originally aired on September 13, 1995.
  • Budd Boetticher: A Study in Self-Determination (1080i; 01:00:11) – In this 1971 documentary, filmmaker Taylor Hackford interviews director Budd Boetticher about his experiences as a bullfighter in Mexico.
  • Visiting Budd Boetticher (1080i; 00:37:24) – In this 1999 interview, director Budd Boetticher shares stories about his collaborations with actor Randolph Scott and screenwriter Burt Kennedy.
  • Budd Boetticher and Jim Kitses (1080p; 01:02:51) – In this audio interview from 1969m film scholar Jim Kitses talks to director Budd Boetticher about the series of westerns he made with actor Randolph Scott.
  • Farran Smith Nehme on Randolph Scott (1080p; 00:25:40) – Film critic Farran Smith Nehme presents a profile of actor Randolph Scott, with a focus on the westerns he made with director Budd Boetticher.

The Final Assessment

This is a fascinating, excellently restored, and magnificently filmed collection of westerns that are entertaining from start to finish. The restorations are reference quality, bringing these films to a level of quality that they have never reached on home video before. Highly recommended.


The Ranown Westerns is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo July 18, 2023, from the Criterion Collection


  • Rating Certificate: Approved
  • Studios & Distributors: Ranown Pictures Corp. | Columbia Pictures | The Criterion Collection
  • Director: Budd Boetticher
  • Written By: Burt Kennedy & Elmore Leonard (The Tall T) | Charles Lang & Vernon L. Fluharty (Decision at Sundown) | Charles Lang, Jonas Ward, & Burt Kennedy (Buchanan Rides Alone) | Burt Kennedy (Ride Lonesome & Comanche Station)
  • Run Time: 380 Mins. (Total Approx. Run Time)
  • Street Date: 18 July 2023
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (The Tall T, Decision at Sundown, and Buchanan Rides Alone) | 2.35:1 (Ride Lonesome & Comanche Station)
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • The Tall T:
      • MaxLL: 490 nits
      • MaxFALL: 110 nits
    • Decision at Sundown:
      • MaxLL: 713 nits
      • MaxFALL: 140 nits
    • Buchanan Rides Alone:
      • MaxLL: 1000 nits
      • MaxFALL: 87 nits
    • Ride Lonesome:
      • MaxLL: 1000 nits
      • MaxFALL: 199 nits
    • Comanche Station:
      • MaxLL: 382 nits
      • MaxFALL: 91 nits
  • Primary Audio: English LPCM 1.0
  • Subtitles: English SDH
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A collection of five westerns directed by Budd Boetticher starring Randolph Scott that get new life in vibrant new 4K restorations. The Ranown Westerns (4K UHD Review)