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Among the countless formula Westerns in which John Wayne labored between the highs of The Big Trail and Stagecoach, Randy Rides Alone is... unique. Its opening scene--a saloon in the middle of nowhere, populated in broad daylight by nothing but corpses--is bizarre to the point of surreality (though surely director Harry Fraser never heard of surrealism); this creepy mise-en-scène has weirded out more than one Saturday-matinee kid who innocently sat down in front of it. Randy (Wayne) solves the crime by falling in with an outlaw gang, foremost among whom is the ubiquitous Yakima Canutt. Certainly the most colorful local character, the affable hunchback Matt the Mute, couldn't possibly be connected with them. Matt is played by George Hayes, not yet whiskered and not yet "Gabby." We said surreal and we meant surreal--and that's not even mentioning the tree trunk in the middle of Main Street. --Richard T. Jameson
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