Decision at Sundown
Randolph Scott's Bart Allison and his sidekick arrive in the town of Sundown on the wedding day of the man Bart blames for the death of his wife
An ageing gambler takes a young hand under his wing in this low-key noir from debutant Paul Thomas Anderson
A nifty and nimble neo-noir from writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson, made before the excesses of subsequent work. Philip Baker Hall and John C Reilly (both Anderson regulars) play a pair of canny operators in Reno, with the former exerting a paternal hold over the latter, having taught him the rules of casino life. As with later Anderson, the plot is secondary and takes shape gradually; mostly the film relies on atmosphere, character and the performances that contribute to both.
A near-classic in a minor key, and a must-see for fans of later work like The Master and There Will Be Blood who may not yet have experienced the delights of Paul Thomas Anderson's vision operating on a less epic scale.
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On Film4: 20 December 2014