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Author Topic: The Tall T (1957)  (Read 6996 times)
cigar joe
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« 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.


« Last Edit: December 30, 2006, 09:41:26 PM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 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.

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« Reply #2 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.

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« Reply #3 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.

« Last Edit: May 18, 2009, 08:13:42 PM by The Firecracker » Logged



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« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2009, 02:07:42 PM »

Martin Scorsese on The Tall T

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

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« Reply #5 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.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2009, 04:17:11 PM by tuco benedicto pacifico juan maria ramirez » Logged


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« Reply #6 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.

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« Reply #7 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




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« Reply #8 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.

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« Reply #9 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

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« Reply #10 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?

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« Reply #11 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.

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« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2011, 11:00:30 AM »

You watched a pan and scanned copy?

Yeah, on a small TV.

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« Reply #13 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.

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« Reply #14 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.

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