7 Men From Now which I loved. Comanche Station was released in 1960.
The movie starts with Jefferson Cody (Randolph Scott) riding into a Comanche village to trade. What he’s trading for is a woman, a Mrs Low (Nancy Gates). We lear later that many years before Cody’s wife had been taken by Comanches and that he’s still obsessively looking for her. Every time he hears a rumour that the Comanches have taken another white woman he sets out to get her back.
What Cody doesn’t know is that Mrs Low’s husband has offered the reward for her return, dead or alive.
It’s a long way to the next town and they’re going to be shadowed night and day by the Comanches.
The plot really is very simple. Probably deliberately so. The focus is on the visual splendour of the landscape and the struggle between two obsessive men - one obsessed by the search for his long-vanished wife, a search that even he knows is hopeless, while the other’s obsession with money. Both obsessions might well be equally destructive.
Randolph Scott gave consistently excellent performances for Boetticher and he’s terrific here. Complex westerns such as this and Sam Peckinpah’s Ride the High Country certainly brought out the best in Randolph Scott. And the older Scott got the better he got, bringing a nice sense of world-weariness to his rôles. Jefferson Cody is a good man but there’s a certain emptiness to him - his obsession is all he has in life.
Or of course it could suggest other motivations. The matter is left ambiguous until the end.
Nancy Gates gives a solid performance but Mrs Low is a somewhat underwritten character. She’s just there to add some sexual tension and to make the stakes higher in the struggle between Cody and Lane.
Comanche Station is a simple rather poetic film with a definite mythic overtone. Cody could be the hero of a Greek tragedy, doomed to wander endlessly looking for something hopelessly and irretrievably lost. He doesn’t want the $5,000 and he doesn’t want Nancy Low. What he wants is something he can never find and he will never stop looking. Ben Lane can win if he can kill Cody, but even if Cody succeeds in killing Lane first he can’t really win.
Comanche Station is highly recommended.