Being shot in Cinemascope is the film’s best aspect, and even that isn’t able to cushion the boredom that is accrued during Ride Lonesome’s 80 minute runtime. The film follows Ben Brigade (Randolph Scott) who subdues a criminal by the name of Billy John (James Best) – it seems that Brigade is simply looking to collect the bounty on John’s head. However, as Brigade enlists a crew to help him bring Billy John to Santa Cruz, we discover that he is taking the scenic route as a means of letting Billy John’s posse catch up. The posse’s leader, played by Lee Van Cleef, murdered Brigade’s wife, and is Brigade’s true target.
Boetticher abides by a thematic formula that makes for bland characterization and inane depictions of race and gender. There’s a reason why Boetticher’s Westerns are not mentioned in the same vein as those by Ford, Peckinpah, or Mann – he takes no risks. And the problem isn’t that Ride Lonesome is vanilla, but that it’s actually bad. Acting from the primary characters is stiff and dull. Action sequences are standard – and look terrible when compared to the recent Ford Western I watched, My Darling Clementine. I’m hesitant in giving another one of Boetticher’s films a try, especially given that Randolph Scott stars in so many of his films – his performance here was undoubtedly one of the worst I’ve seen in recent memory.