For Senses of Cinema, in 2017 to include a dossier devoted to Budd Boetticher may seem a little ‘apropos of nothing’: this is a filmmaker who has always existed on the margins – never rising above the level of a director of programmers, in 1960 at the very moment he seemed destined for A-list status he walked away from Hollywood, never to return. And although well regarded by critics, his career and oeuvre had never been the subject of thorough assessment, with scholars preferring to feast on the series of seven westerns he made with Randolph Scott and rarely extend the courtesy to the rest of his filmography.
To a degree this is understandable as the Scott westerns are so unique, for seldom has a group of films offered such continuity of vision, economics and collaboration. It is this convenience that has allowed the seven to be read as one, their esteem to the detriment of all that came before and the little that followed. It was a standard set by scholar Jim Kitses in 1969, whose remarkable discussion of these westerns in his book Horizons West provided a critical corral that, whilst exalting Boetticher’s work, narrowed the prism through which it would be viewed.
However, when it seemed that Boetticher’s career would fade into critical distance, with little built upon Kitses’ foundations, the recent publication of Edinburgh University Press’ Refocus: The Films of Budd Boetticher (eds. Gary D. Rhodes & Robert Singer) has righted this critical oversight. Finally, in the centenary of the director’s birth there exists a volume of essays that go beyond the Scott westerns.
It is fortuitous that as this book was nearing release that Andy Rausch contacted us with news that he had just discovered tapes of an interview he had recorded with Boetticher which had yet to be published in full. That the stars have aligned in this manner is a cause for celebration in the form of our own dossier on the films of Budd Boetticher, in which we include not only the first publication of Andy’s entire interview, but introduce a selection of pieces commissioned especially for this issue, including the first online publication of the last interview Boetticher ever did before his death with Wheeler Winston Dixon (originally published in Film Criticism). Additionally, we also include a number of articles about the director’s work selected from our archives.
The editors of Refocus: The Films of Budd Boetticher have stated that their book is not the final word on Boetticher, rather, they wish to see it as a conversation starter for further work on the subject. I believe the breadth and quality of the pieces included in this dossier will go some way in furthering this conversation.
I wish to thank the Senses of Cinema editorial team for the opportunity to assist in the compiling of this dossier and to thank the contributors for their generosity of time and the sharing of their knowledge and thoughts on Budd Boetticher and his career.