Happpy Birthday to Randolph Scott!
Scott (1898 – 1987) has long been my favorite western actor, especially in the films that he made from 1956 to 1960 with director Budd Boetticher. In those films, Scott, at an age when most leading men were winding down their careers, managed to revive his—and cement his place in cinema history. The Scott-Boetticher films are edgy, especially for the 1950s. Scott’s characters are not-quite-heroes; the villains are evil, but complex.
Quentin Tarantino says that acknowledged the influence of the Boetticher films on his own work by naming one of the characters in Kill Bill, Budd.sa
With a screenplay by Detroit native Elmore Leonard, The Tall T is my favorite Randolph Scott film. It’s what you might expect from Leonard—dark and complex, with interesting characters. In The Tall T, Scott is captured—along with the other passengers on a stagecoach—by a group of outlaws led by Richard Boone. Some of the gang members are homicidal maniacs, but Scott and Boone recognize in each other kindred spirits who, but for the kidnapping, might have been friends.
Scott retired from film in 1962, after making Ride The High Country, a film by Sam Peckinpah. It was the director’s first feature film, and a tribute to the passing of the old west. In it, Scott and Joel McCrae play a pair of over-the-hill gunfighters who are hired to escort a shipment of gold. Scott plans to doublecross his friend McCrae and steal the gold, but in the end does the right thing. The ending of Ride The High Country is quite emotional and always leaves me with a tear in my eye.
Scott was a good golfer—a six handicapper—who played in the first Crosby Clambake in 1937 at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club near San Diego. He also was a course designer, having laid out the Creste Verde Golf club in 1927.
The photo above shows Scott in 1962. I believe that the woman in the cart is his wife—I’ve seen her in other photos. (photo from Flickr) I’ve also seen—but have not been able to find—a couple of photos of Scott in golf attire and one with Gene Littler at the Crosby. I’d like to have copies of those for my wall.
Scott’s reputation has taken a bit of a beating in recent years as he has become sort of a gay icon. The rumors stem from the ten years that he shared a beach house with Cary Grant— a place known as Bachelor Hall. If you run a search, you’ll find plenty of photos of Scott and Grant originating from alternative lifestyle websites. Grant and Scott, however, always denied the rumors—and certainly had more than their share of romantic trysts with leading starlets. Scott friend and director Budd Boetticher has this to say about the rumors: “Bullshit.”
But it doesn’t matter. Scott’s legacy is in his film, not his social life. And his films are timeless.