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Films of Sergio Leone => Other Films => Topic started by: cigar joe on December 30, 2006, 09:38:46 PM



Title: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: cigar joe on December 30, 2006, 09:38:46 PM
Well this is one of the films I aquired for Christmas, this and "Ride Lonesome".

I've been waiting for Batjack to continue releasing the rest of the Boetticher-Randolp Scott (Ranown) films after the excellent DVD "Seven Men From Now", but since none seem to be forthcomming anytime soon I went ahead and got some VHS tapes that have been on Amazon for a while.

This film Dir by Boetticher and starring Scott (Pat Brennan), Richard Boone (Frank Usher), Henry Silva (Chink), Arthur Hunnicutt (Ed Rintoon), Skip Homeier (Billy Jack), John Hubbard (Willard Mims), and Maureen O'Sullivan (Doretta Mims), is the second of the seven "lost" Boetticher Westerns. The film was based on a short  story by Elmore Leonard (Hombre, 3:10 to Yuma, Get Shorty, Jackie Brown, etc., etc.) with the screenplay by Burt Kennedy.

This film needs a restored DVD asap.

The simple story revolves around a stage holdup gone bad, and the great performances of the cast combined with the majestic scenery of Lone Pine (thats the cragy peak of Mt. Whitney at 14,491 feet the highest point in the lower 48 states in the background)  make this a great prequil to all the Spaghetti Westerns to come.

Scott as rancher Pat Brennan, stops by a stage stop on his way to the town of Contention and the Tenvoorde Ranch (where he plans to buy a seed bull) to water his horse. He meets his friend the stage stop boss and his young son, the son pulls out a change purse and asks Brennan if he would pick him up some cherry flavored stripped candy in town.  

In town Scott meets up with Ed Rintoon (Hunnicut) a cantankerous stage driver who asks Brennan to have a drink with him in the bar, Brennan declines goes into the general store for the candy then heads to the Tenvoorde Ranch.

At the ranch he gets to wagering with Tenvoorde betting his "clay bank" (the color of his horse) against the seed bull of his pick if he can bull ride it to a standstill. He looses his horse and is next seen walking through the desert with his saddle over his shoulder. He is then picked up by Rintoon with a special honeymoon coach hired out by Mims & his bride.

This whole intro to the real meat of the tale provides you a small wealth of real "cowboy" and Western day in and day out details , "touchstones" so to speak of speach vernacular, lore, and visuals.

Things like walking a sweating horse before you water it, watching cowboys roping horses, seeing Scott bull riding, the stuff that also make American Westerns realistic. Boetticher is famous for his attention to the animals.

This is a contrast of sorts with Spaghetti Westerns, with Leone we get style, bleak surrealistic landscapes, beautiful sets filled with props, great picaresque characters, muiscal cues, and Morricone scores. With Boetticher we get simple gritty stories against a familiar backdrop of the Sierras, full of cowboy lore, with great character actors. Both work.

Boone is a great badass once again, and along with his two sleasy partners the dumb Billy Jack, and the cold blooded creepy psyco Chink (one of Silva's best roles) make a memorable trio. The alluded to events at the stage stop will recall for you the McBaine massacre in OUTITW, and its in its own way very powerful. Leone had to have seen this.

This film is a bit bloodier than "Seven Men From Now" where the action was "off screen" here its done very well. There are outstanding performances by Silva, Hunnicut.  Boone I would say is in his penultimate performance (working his way up to his turn as Cicero Grimes in Hombre). The film has a well done love interest between Scott & O'Sullivan, that dose not detract from the story one iota.

Once again in these pre Morricone days the score is treated like something you just tack on to a film as an afterthought.

You can still find VHS copies of this on Amazon, I highly recomend our future directors on this site to study what Boetticher does.



Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: dave jenkins on January 01, 2007, 10:18:43 AM
Thanks, CJ. I've long wanted to see this film (and Ride Lonesome as well). I'm content to wait for good DVDs of them; when they arrive I'll snap 'em up.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: cigar joe on January 02, 2007, 04:42:05 AM
Well don't hold your breath, I hope they come out with all the Boetticher-Scott films too.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: The Firecracker on May 18, 2009, 08:08:54 PM
Simple but satisfying western involving a cowboy being abducted, along with a rich couple, by some desperados.
It doesn't get going until AFTER Scott leaves the ranch where he loses his horse in a bet but afterwards there is no turning the tv off.
A scene in which Randolph blows a baddies' face off with a shotgun is shockingly violent for 57' and the character of Chink (played with delight by Henry Silva) is a nasty piece of work.
The final line "It's going to be a nice day" is right up there with "I think this is the start of a beautiful relationship" in terms of closing lines.
Really great movie but not as good as Boetticher's Ride Lonesome.


8/10


Naming the Silva character "Chink" first got me thinking he was playing a Chinaman but as the movie goes on it becomes clear he plays a half breed Mexican American.
Was Chink not considered a racial term in 57'?

Silva has a small history of playing characters with racy names in movies.
He is called "Mother" (short for "Motherfucker") in A Hatful Of Rain.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: The Firecracker on June 18, 2009, 02:07:42 PM
Martin Scorsese on The Tall T

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X54NKuDIv2Y&feature=related


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: T.H. on June 21, 2009, 03:56:17 PM
The Tall T is a hell of a movie.

Just a note, there is a Boetticher marathon on TCM this week, Thursday, I think.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: dave jenkins on June 21, 2009, 04:06:44 PM
Naming the Silva character "Chink" first got me thinking he was playing a Chinaman but as the movie goes on it becomes clear he plays a half breed Mexican American.
Was Chink not considered a racial term in 57'?
Dunno, but it's the name of the character in the original Elmore Leonard story.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: titoli on June 23, 2009, 04:22:16 PM
Everybody seems to make much of this, but for me this is just two scenes: the one at the way station with the bandits and the last confrontation between Boone and Scott. The problem is one has to cope with some great unverisimilitudes, the first one being the fact that Scott is not disposed of at once, though at least two explanations for this are given, one by Scott (the bandits might have needed him in case something happened to the first "messenger") and another by Boone (He took a sympathy to Scott). But both are flimsy and the fact that the narrative goes on this point twice reveals a bad conscience of the author (I have to read Leonard's story yet). Another, very apparent unverisimilitude for any western fan, is the fact that Scott and the woman are never tied up. When Scott disposes of Billy Jack that unverisimilitude becomes almost unbearable to a watcher.  Another inconsistency is that we are told all the time how ugly the woman is while the bandits and Scott fall for her (in fact she is not ugly at all. Considering how ugly were some women in  many of these '50's western she is a loooker), she being the key to Scott disposing of Billy Jack. So I give it 7\10





Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: titoli on June 25, 2009, 07:02:34 PM
I've read the Leonard's story (The Captives) today. The movie, apart from the beginning and the end, follows it very closely. The difference in the disposing off order (Cink is killed last) does help explain the prisoner being left untied.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: Dust Devil on February 19, 2011, 01:55:39 AM
Yes, I have to agree with titoli here: this is movie that is entertaining, and, if you cut it some more slack, even good. But, there's no virtuosity from the director's part here, a few interesting points and bits but that's all. Then again, this movie starts only when all the main faces get together around the campfire, about 20 minutes in. In that category (much talk and psychology and little action and changing location) - this is probably as good as it gets. I liked the cast all around, really have no complaint. Usher (played by Boone) seems the most interesting, the rest of them mere puppets, but the job was done professionally.

One big minus though: if Brennan (Scott) really blew off Billy Jack's (Homeier) face (with a shotgun, torso to torso), Brennan would have been all soiled with BJ's blood. As I see it, there's just no way to get that done cleanly.


7/10


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: T.H. on February 19, 2011, 10:53:13 AM
But, there's no virtuosity from the director's part here

You watched a pan and scanned copy?


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: stanton on February 20, 2011, 04:13:00 AM
It isn't a 2,35:1 film, like the later Ranown westerns. The correct aspect ratio is 1,85:1, and if it was an open matte full screen copy you haven't done wrong.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: Dust Devil on February 20, 2011, 11:00:30 AM
You watched a pan and scanned copy?

Yeah, on a small TV.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: T.H. on February 21, 2011, 01:19:29 PM
It isn't a 2,35:1 film, like the later Ranown westerns. The correct aspect ratio is 1,85:1, and if it was an open matte full screen copy you haven't done wrong.

I was being facetious but 1:85:1 still gets hacked up - and I've personally never seen or heard of a correct image blown up to fit 16:9 televisions.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: stanton on February 22, 2011, 02:34:34 AM
but 1:85:1 still gets hacked up - and I've personally never seen or heard of a correct image blown up to fit 16:9 televisions.

I don't understand what you mean. Please explain a little further.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: T.H. on February 22, 2011, 08:17:07 PM
Your post confused me as well.

I personally have never seen a P&S copy of a 1:85:1 aspect ratio that wasn't horrible.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: stanton on February 24, 2011, 05:25:25 AM
Normally they don't do pan & scan from 1,85 : 1 films, cause it isn't necessary. They mostly were released (in the former 4:3 TV times) open matte, which means the sides are the same, but you see more on top and bottom. That's what was masked in the theatres, and which is now masked again (correctly) for the 16:9 DVDs.

But even if these 1,85:1 are not open matte they usually don't do pan & scan cause there is not so much missing on the sides.

Pan & scan was done for the 4:3 releases of 2,35:1 films.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on June 21, 2012, 09:19:03 AM
Everybody seems to make much of this, but for me this is just two scenes: the one at the way station with the bandits and the last confrontation between Boone and Scott. The problem is one has to cope with some great unverisimilitudes, the first one being the fact that Scott is not disposed of at once, though at least two explanations for this are given, one by Scott (the bandits might have needed him in case something happened to the first "messenger") and another by Boone (He took a sympathy to Scott). But both are flimsy and the fact that the narrative goes on this point twice reveals a bad conscience of the author (I have to read Leonard's story yet). Another, very apparent unverisimilitude for any western fan, is the fact that Scott and the woman are never tied up. When Scott disposes of Billy Jack that unverisimilitude becomes almost unbearable to a watcher.  Another inconsistency is that we are told all the time how ugly the woman is while the bandits and Scott fall for her (in fact she is not ugly at all. Considering how ugly were some women in  many of these '50's western she is a loooker), she being the key to Scott disposing of Billy Jack. So I give it 7\10



I really liked this movie. As for the unverisimilitudes you talk about, here is another: When Chink comes riding back, Brennan  is hiding behind a rock and has a clear shot at him -- he is simply a dead duck. But that would be too easy for a Western shootout, so instead, Brennan waits for him to go into the dugout, then they have this whole shootout with Chink in the dugout and Brennan outside. Another completely ridiculous unversimilitude (great word!). If Boetticher wanted to have a big shootout like that, that's fine, but did he really have to make it that Brennan has a clear shot at him but just allows him to walk into the dugout just so they could have this shootout? Like Rube Goldberg http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rubenvent.jpg

Of the 7 Boetticher/Scott Westerns, IMO 4 are good: Seven Men from Now, Ride Lonesome, The Tall T, and Westbound. And 3 are not good -- Decision at Sundown, Comanche Station, and Buchanan Rides Alone.

There is something beautifully simple about these movies, which often are pretty short and sparse, have a simple story with just a few characters in vast landscapes. There is just something about this series that makes me smile whenever I think of 'em   :) Frayling says they were a big influence on Leone.... And btw, I recall some piece on the bonus features where someone mentioned that Boetticher told him  that the reason Boetticher was able to get away with all kinds of shit on his movies (I guess there was stuff that wouldn't ordinarily pass Production Code muster) is cuz nobody paid attention to his movies cuz they were as he called them, not B-movies but C-movies!

It's a darn shame what happened to him personally -- I am only vaguely familiar with the story of his life, but I understand that he went to Mexico to make a movie about Carlos Arruza, and that project completely screwed his life. he had problems with studios, was arrested, committed to a nut house, when the project was finally completed the movie flopped, and he barely worked in Hollywood again. A sad story. But he is a great interview, and some of the dvd's have terrific bonus materials, including interviews with Boetticher (who dies in 2001), his wife, Taylor Hackford, Quentin Tarantino, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorcese, and many others.


Boetticher definitely holds a special place in the heart of serious Western fans, and for a (too brief) 5-year period, he made a lasting impression on the genre   :)

One of Boetticher's movies that is constantly mentioned in the bonus features is Bullfighter and The Lady, produced by John Wayne,  but unfortunately it is unavailable on dvd in America. (there are some VHS's on Amazon; I would buy that if I could be sure it's not a pan and scan). Hopefully it'll be released on dvd one day.

I don't think I've seen any of Boetticher's movies besides these Randolph Scott Westerns (and Two Mules for Sister Sara, for which he wrote the screenplay).  Are there any other good movies he made that I should put in my queue? Thanks  O0


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: dave jenkins on June 21, 2012, 09:47:11 AM
The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond.


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: Groggy on April 03, 2013, 10:35:09 AM
Can't add much to what's already been said by everyone but Titoli. Mainly I'm amused there's a character named Billy Jack.

Quote
Thanks to the approbation of Clint Eastwood and Quentin Tarantino, along with critics like Jim Kitses, Budd Boetticher's Westerns have lately been rescued from B Movie obscurity. Particularly revered is the so-called "Ranown Cycle," Boetticher's six collaborations with Randolph Scott and producer Joe Brown. Their lean narratives, striking direction and simple, crisp storytelling make them marvels of dramatic economy.

The second in the series, after the remarkable Seven Men from Now (1956), is The Tall T (1957). Based on an Elmore Leonard story, it's a straightforward but powerful Western. Boetticher's preoccupations with masculine honor make for interesting viewing.

Pat Brennan (Randolph Scott) hitches a ride on a stagecoach carrying newlyweds Doretta (Maureen O'Sullivan) and Willard Mims (John Hubbard). At the next station they're waylaid by a trio of crooks: reasonable Frank (Richard Boone), crack-brained Billy Jack (Tom Laughlin... er, Skip Homeier) and psychotic Chink (Henry Silva). Willard tells the outlaws Doretta's father is a copper magnate, convincing Frank to ransom hers. Pat and Doretta fall for each other as they think of a way to outsmart their tormentors.

Like all Boetticher's Westerns, The Tall T is a model of efficiency, clocking in at under 80 minutes. Writer Burt Kennedy crafts a small cast and simple, focused story and clipped dialogue. The action plays out against stark backdrops, namely the craggy Alabama Hills, giving the violence a stylish kick. These movies are easy to decode but no one watching will complain: sometimes the simplest stories are the best.

Boetticher's Westerns presage Sergio Leone in their frontier chivalry and ritualized violence. Brennan is a simple, laconic man, not especially heroic but driven by personal honor ("There are some things a man just can't ride around"). Boetticher contrasts this model of masculinity with the weak-willed Willard, who'd gladly sell Doretta out to save himself, and the feral violence of Chink and Billy Jack. Frank seems the protagonist's mirror image, disgusted with his partners and respecting Brennan, until he pulls a rotten trick in the end showdown. Doretta is a peripheral character, pining over her rotten marriage and swooning over the manly Brennan.

Randolph Scott makes an ideal Western hero. Tall and leathery in appearance, tougher than James Stewart, more soft-spoken than John Wayne or Clint Eastwood, he's always convincing. He's well-matched by Richard Boone (Hombre), who marvelously underplays his likeable villain. Henry Silva (The Bravados) and Skip Homeier (The Gunfighter) provide menacing support and Arthur Hunnicut (El Dorado) has a brief appearance. Maureen O'Sullivan is a weak link, less effective than Gail Russell in Seven Men or Karen Steele in Ride Lonesome.

The Tall T is a solid Western. Few directors do a better job with Western archetypes than Boetticher and Kennedy, crafting old-fashioned elements into something special. 8/10

http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-tall-t.html (http://nothingiswrittenfilm.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-tall-t.html)


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on April 03, 2013, 11:52:30 AM
nice review Groggers  O0


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: cigar joe on April 03, 2013, 12:27:11 PM
nice review Groggers  O0
agreed


Title: Re: The Tall T (1957)
Post by: Groggy on April 03, 2013, 12:30:23 PM
Thanks O0