Seven Men from Now is a 1956 Western film directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, Gail Russell, and Lee Marvin. The film was written by Burt Kennedy and produced byJohn Wayne's Batjac Productions.
Ben Stride (Randolph Scott) walks into a desert cave encampment during a nighttime rainstorm. He encounters two men taking shelter next to a fire and asks to join them. Stride tells the men he's from the town of Silver Springs, which provokes a mysterious reaction from the two men. They discuss a robbery and murder that recently occurred there. The men become suspicious of Stride, and when they realize his intentions, he guns them down.
The following day Stride tracks someone through the Arizona wilderness and comes upon a wagon stuck in the mud. Stride uses the two horses he confiscated from the men at the encampment to help pull the wagon clear, and the wagon's owners, John and Annie Greer, are grateful. Travelers from Kansas City, they admit they are inexperienced at frontier life and ask Stride to ride with them as they head south to the border town of Flora Vista on their way west to California. Greer says he hopes to find a sales job there, but has been taking odd jobs along the way. The mention of Flora Vista arouses Stride's curiosity and he agrees to take them to the border. As the trio travels, Annie shows a growing attraction to Stride. At one point they are stopped by a US Army detail, whose commanding officer (Stuart Whitman) tells them to go back, as Chiricahua Apache have been spotted in the area and he cannot guarantee their safety.
Stride and the Greers travel on, finding a stagecoach relay station and encountering Bill Masters (Lee Marvin) and Clete (Don Barry), two former nemeses of Stride's. As they all spend the night at the station, Masters tells the Greers that Stride was once the sheriff of Silver Springs, and his wife was killed during the robbery of the Wells Fargo freight office. Stride has been tracking and killing the seven men who performed the robbery, and Masters intends to abscond with the $20,000 dollars in gold they stole once Stride has accomplished his task. Annie feels sympathy for Stride, who confesses that he feels guilty about his wife's death because at the time he was no longer sheriff and didn't have another job, so she took one at the freight office and was working the night of the incident. Before the wagon heads out of the station, with Masters and Clete tagging along opportunistically, they are met by Chiricahua warriors. The Apache leave when Stride gives up one of the horses to the hungry tribesmen.
The group encounters one of the Wells Fargo robbers, who is being chased by Indians. Unaware of the man's part in the robbery, Stride saves him from the Apache. The man, however, recognizes Stride and nearly kills him, but Stride is saved when Masters shoots the man in the back.
One night, Masters "reminisces" about a woman stolen away from her husband by a tall stranger, clearly suggesting that Stride is doing just that with Annie Greer. Furious at Masters's impropriety, Stride sends Masters and Clete away into the night.
Masters and Clete reach Flora Vista ahead of the wagon, and there meet with the Wells Fargo bandits waiting for delivery of their gold. Masters tells their leader, Payte Bodeen (John Larch), that Stride is heading in their direction to kill all of them and avenge his wife's death. Bodeen dispatches two of the bandits to meet Stride before he can reach Flora Vista. Meanwhile, Stride leaves Greer and Annie, telling them to continue on without him. Stride rides ahead into a canyon alone and is ambushed by the two bank robbers but kills them both. Wounded in the leg, Stride is knocked unconscious while trying to ride away with one of the bandits' horses.
Bodeen tells Masters that Greer is the man he paid to deliver the gold from the robbery to Flora Vista, and Masters berates himself for letting this escape him. Meantime, Greer and Annie come upon the unconscious Stride and nurse his wounds. Greer admits to his wife and Stride that he was paid $500 to deliver the Wells Fargo box containing the gold hidden in the wagon. Stride takes the gold away from Greer to draw the rest of the bandits out from town, and Greer and Annie head into Flora Vista to notify the local sheriff.
Greer arrives in town without the gold, telling Bodeen that Stride has it, and as he walks down the street toward the sheriff's office, Bodeen guns him down. The last two bandits, Bodeen and Clint, ride out to confront Stride, but are killed by Masters and Clete instead. Masters then kills Clete and walks out into the clearing where Stride has placed the box of gold. They face off, and Stride kills Masters before he can pull his guns.
Stride returns the gold to Wells Fargo and tells Annie that he is going to take a job as a deputy sheriff in Silver Springs. He puts her on a stagecoach bound for California, then rides away. Annie, however, tells the stage driver she isn't going.
John Wayne and Robert Fellows's production company Batjac purchased the Burt Kennedy screenplay with the intention of having Wayne star as Stride. It was Kennedy's first film script. However, Wayne was locked into doing The Searchers for John Ford. According to Kennedy, Wayne wasn't particularly interested in the script until he became aware that Robert Mitchum's representatives were interested in it, at which point Wayne perked up and suggested going to Warners and casting Randolph Scott instead. Scott insisted on Budd Boetticher as the director. As with their previous collaboration, Bullfighter and the Lady, Wayne, in his role as producer, recut the film without Boetticher's approval, although the film has since been restored to the director's original vision.
Seven Men from Now was the first in a seven-film collaboration between Scott, Boetticher, and producer Harry Joe Brown, with five of the films written by Kennedy.
The movie was shot in the Alabama Hills and other locations near Lone Pine, California in the last months of 1955. Gail Russell was cast as the female lead due to her previous work with Wayne in Angel and the Badman and Wake of the Red Witch. She had not worked on a movie for nearly five years prior to Seven Men from Now, due to her struggles with stage-fright-induced alcoholism, and Boetticher worked very hard to keep her from drinking during the filming.
- Randolph Scott as Ben Stride
- Gail Russell as Annie Greer
- Lee Marvin as Bill Masters
- Walter Reed as John Greer
- John Larch as Bodeen
- Don 'Red' Barry as Clete
- Fred Graham as Henchman
- John Beradino as Clint
- John Phillips as Jed
- Chuck Roberson as Mason
- Stuart Whitman as Cavalry Lt. Collins
- Pamela Duncan as Señorita Nellie
- Steve Mitchell as Fowler
- Cliff Lyons as Henchman
- Fred Sherman as The Prospector