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From Cary Grant Comedy to Westerns: Randolph Scott Movies

Randolph Scott moviesRandolph Scott movies: From Westerns to Cary Grant / Irene Dunne comedy

Handsome, granite-faced Randolph Scott is Turner Classic Movies’ next great choice in its "Summer Under the Stars" film series. Monday, August 19, 2013, is Randolph Scott Day, which begins and ends with Westerns. That shouldn’t be surprising, for although Scott was initially cast in a variety of roles and movie genres (including Westerns), he became exclusively a Western star in the late ’40s, sticking to that genre until his retirement in 1962 following the release of Sam Peckinpah’s elegiac Ride the High Country, which TCM will be showing on Monday evening. Joel McCrea at his very best and Mariette Hartley co-star. (See “On TCM: Randolph Scott Westerns.”) (Photo: Randolph Scott ca. 1945.)

Many of Scott’s Westerns were routine fare, including Badman’s Territory (1946), which kicks off Randolph Scott Day. Some, however, have become classics of the genre, especially his late ’50s collaborations with Budd Boetticher at Columbia. TCM will be presenting three of those: The Tall T (1957), co-starring Maureen O’Sullivan (Mia Farrow’s mother and MGM’s Jane to Johnny Weismuller’s Tarzan); Ride Lonesome (1959); and Comanche Station (1960). They’re not to be missed.

Another Randolph Scott Western that should be worth checking out is Lesley Selander’s Tall Man Riding (1955), in which Scott’s leading ladies are 1956 Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) and Peggie Castle of Gun Crazy fame. According to the TCM website, in Tall Man Riding "a man returns to wreak vengeance against a cattle baron and claim the land that is rightfully his." I’m assuming that vengeance-wreaking man is Randolph Scott, which means that the cattle baron in question might consider looking for some other business venture.

Return of the Bad Men (1948) may be interesting as well, as it features a female bandit leader (Anne Jeffreys), an uncommon occurrence in Westerns. The presence of the generally outstanding Robert Ryan (as the Sundance Kid of Robert Redford fame) is another plus.

Radically different, but also of interest is China Sky (1945), a World War II drama in which Scott plays a doctor helping out the Chinese following the Japanese invasion. Ruth Warrick (Orson Welles’ wife in Citizen Kane) and Paramount leading lady Ellen Drew co-star.

Randolph Scott and Cary Grant: ’My Favorite Wife’

Garson Kanin’s RKO release My Favorite Wife (1940) proves that Randolph Scott was a perfectly capable light comedian, holding his own in the presence of the more experienced Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, and Gail Patrick. The story is basically a reboot of Enoch Arden: wife (Dunne) returns from the dead (actually, a deserted island) only to find husband (Grant) married to somebody else (Patrick). Poor wife. Well, don’t feel too sorry for her; after all, her deserted island wasn’t all that deserted. Enter Randolph Scott.

Though not on a par with the previous Irene Dunne / Cary Grant pairing, Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth, My Favorite Wife is light fun. An inferior 1963 remake at 20th Century Fox, Move Over Darling, starred Doris Day, James Garner, Polly Bergen, and Chuck Connors. Also worth mentioning, the 1962 production Something’s Got to Give was to have been Fox’s remake of My Favorite Wife, but the project was abandoned after director George Cukor fired Marilyn Monroe, who died shortly thereafter. Dean Martin, Cyd Charisse, and Tom Tryon were the unfinished film’s other three leads.

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