Budd Boetticher's Seven Men From Now is a lean, fast-paced, low-budget Western which tells the story of Ben Stride, a former Sheriff, who trudges through the Wild West in pursuit of the men responsible for the murder of his wife in a holdup. This is a film that could be classified as an "on the road" film, as nearly the entire film takes on the move, with Stride befriending a husband & wife, Mr. & Mrs. Greer, along the way. Boetticher has such a strong ability to touch on complex aspects of humanity through sleek, straight forward storytelling, with Seven Men From Now examining the potential moral deterioration of its main protagonist, a man who effectively turned his back on the law in order to hunt down and kill the men responsible for his wife's death. While there is a lot to admire about Seven Men From Now's no-nonsense approach, what stands out the most about Budd Boetticher's early effort is how it uses the Western genre as a tool to deconstruct masculinity, with Boetticher questioning the convention of toughness. Doing so in a genre steeped in masculinity, Seven Men From Now questions the role masculinity plays in conflict, using the relationship that develops between Ben Stride and Mr. & Mrs. Greer to do so. Adding a layer of complexity to a straightforward narrative, the introduction of this married couple is where Boettcher's intentions become more clear, with Mr. Greer being a much gentler man who is relatively worthless when it comes to the rough-and-tough wild, wild west. The couple first meets Ben Stride due to having their carriage stuck in the mud, and as the journey unfolds it becomes clear that Ms. Greer does find herself attracted to Ben Stride, a man who is oozing with stoic, masculinity. Boettcher uses these character dynamics to explore masculinity in fascinating ways, suggesting that it conflicts with love at a fundamental level, while simultaneously suggesting that the female gaze seeks it out, a primal tendency to find someone who can take care of them. Towards the end of the film Mr. Greer eventually is killed for "being a man", as if Boetticher rejects of this whole idea of masculinity, capturing how it is bound to bring death eventually. It becomes clear that even Ben Stride's wife's death may have been avoided if not for masculinity-based pride, with Stride revealing that the only reason his wife was even working as a clerk was his inability to accept a lesser position of power in law enforcement. Featuring memorably performances by Randolph Scott and Lee Marvin, as one of the main antagonists, Seven Men From Now uses a simple, straightforward story to raise fascinating moral questions as well as contemplate the role masculinity plays in both love and conflict.
Leave a Reply.
Love of all things cinema brought me here.