Mr. Boetticher (pronounced BET-i-ker) was partial to the barren, rocky landscape around Lone Pine, Calif., between Sequoia National Park and Death Valley, as the bleak setting for his westerns. To play the villains opposite the stone-faced Scott, he chose outstanding actors, including Lee Marvin, Richard Boone and James Coburn.
|Boetticher Films in Lone Pine
With Burt Kennedy
|1956 Seven Men from Now|
|1957 Tall T|
|1959 Ride Lonesome|
|1960 Comanche Station|
All together, he directed 38 films, most of them low-budget and many of them westerns, under the assembly-line conditions of the studio system. They display an eye for vivid landscapes and were noted for a sharp contrast between heroes who were men of few words -- the strong, silent type -- and voluble villains. Mr. Boetticher summed up the formula as: ''A man has a job to do, or a couple of men. They try to do it against tremendous odds. They do it.''
In 1936 he went to Mexico to recover from a football injury and became fascinated with bullfighting. Apprenticing himself in 1938 to Carlos Arruza, a star matador, he learned enough to enter the ring as a matador and was once gored in the belly. Bullfighting informed his view of the westerns he would eventually direct, according to specialists in the genre. From it he drew elements like ritualized behavior, codes of machismo and ''the primal nature of its climactic showdown,'' one wrote.
From Mexico he went to Hollywood to visit Hal Roach Jr., a school chum, who got him a job as a horse wrangler in his father's 1939 film ''Of Mice and Men.''
His most productive period was the 1950's, when scores of westerns were released to movie theaters and shown on television. His movies from that period, adventure and war stories as well as westerns, included: ''Killer Shark,'' with Roddy McDowall (1950); ''The Cimarron Kid,'' with Audie Murphy (1951); ''Bronco Buster,'' with Scott (1952); ''Red Ball Express,'' with Sidney Poitier (1952); ''Horizons West,'' with Robert Ryan (1952); ''City Beneath the Sea,'' with Anthony Quinn (1953); ''The Man From the Alamo,'' with Glenn Ford (1953); ''Seminole,'' with Quinn and Rock Hudson (1953); ''Wings of the Hawk,'' with Van Heflin and Scott (1953); ''East of Sumatra'' with Jeff Chandler (1953); ''The Magnificent Matador,'' with Quinn (1955); ''Seven Men From Now,'' with Scott (1956); ''The Killer Is Loose,'' with Joseph Cotten (1956); ''The Tall T,'' with Scott and Maureen O'Sullivan (1957); ''Buchanan Rides Alone,'' with Scott (1958); ''Westbound,'' with Scott (1958); and ''Ride Lonesome,'' also with Scott (1959).
André Bazin, the French film critic, called ''Seven Men From Now'' one of the best movies he had ever seen. (The film was shown in 2000 as a tribute to Mr. Boetticher at the New York Film Festival.) Italian moviemakers also praised his work. Martin Scorsese, the American director, remarked of Mr. Boetticher, ''His style was as simple as his impassive heroes -- deceptively simple.'' Another critic compared his westerns to ''psychological chess games.''