The Tall T (1957)

Directed by Budd Boetticher - starring Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O'Sullivan, Henry Silva and Skip Homeier (as Billy Jack)!

"Cherry Striped Candy."

With those words by "Pat Brennan" (Randolph Scott) a sunny tone is set, and for the first act the antics are kept humorous and light. Scott meets with a Station hand and his son and the young boy excitedly asks Scott if he could pick up some candy for him during his trip to town. Once in town Randolph rides a bull and loses his horse in a good-natured bet. Jumping into the drinking trough just to avoid getting gouged! Scott grabs his saddle sans horse and walks outta town. 

*SPOILERS* Along the way he hitches a ride from a newlywed couple played by John Hubbard and Maureen O'Sullivan, the daughter of a big-time ranch baron. The husband having only married O'Sullivan for her father's money. At the station they find out that the owner and the boy have been killed and their bodies dumped in the well by thieves played by Richard Boone, Henry Silva and Skip Homeier. The tone immediately shifts from light-hearted to grim and gritty. Eventually the husband attempts to make a deal that lets him leave to go to his father-in-law to bring back ransom money in exchange for his wife. He's really only doing to save himself and happily leaves his wife behind, leaving Scott to come up with a plan to save him and the wife. Patrick Boone's character begins to take a liking to Scott seeing him more as an equal than the two grunts he rides with. In the meantime sexual tension between Maureen O'Sullivan and Randolph Scott begins to rise.

Shot in Lone Pine!

Budd continues to get his low budget money's worth by filming in the rocky hills of the wonderful Lone Pine location. Once settled in the story mostly takes place in a small area, the cave where they are keeping Scott and O'Sulivan captive and outside the cave where the bandits have a small camp set up. It's so simple it could practically work as a stage play. It's all framed up beautifully.

THE TALL T is adapted from the original story "The Captives" by Elmore Leonard and it builds on the template of 7 MEN FROM NOW providing Randolph Scott with a wife of a weak willed man to fall in love with, and ultimately save the day for. Maureen O'Sullivan is understated in her performance as the plain looking wife who is eventually brought out of her shell by the sexual energy between her and Randolph.

The villains all continue to shine, all three character actors feel like a real danger yet at the same time enough back story is given to keep them from being one-dimensional goons. Again you can almost see Scott and Boone being friends had things been different. Henry Silva is a riot as usual, just completely chewing up the scenery. Skip Homeier is great as the dim-witted Billy Jack, Skip also appears later in Budd's COMANCHE STATION (1960) to great effect.

At 78 minutes it's a great short B-movie western, it doesn't get any better than this.

No comments:

Post a Comment