Tonight's movie was a well-done Western made by the same team responsible for the previous year's SEVEN MEN FROM NOW: actor Randolph Scott, writer Burt Kennedy, and director Budd Boetticher. In this go-around, instead of Gail Russell and Lee Marvin we have Maureen O'Sullivan as the woman with questionable taste in choosing a husband and Richard Boone as the colorful outlaw.
Scott is once again a great Western hero, a man of character and know-how who patiently calculates how to deal with the bad guys after he is caught up in a robbery and ransom attempt by Boone and his gang. Scott's character in THE TALL T is happier and more optimistic than the haunted hero of SEVEN MEN FROM NOW; I loved his closing line as he walks away from the scene of carnage into a "nice day."
O'Sullivan starts out as a dowdy plain Jane (no pun intended) who by film's end looks quite lovely and has a happier romantic future ahead of her. Boone's well-spoken villain was interesting though not especially sympathetic, given the murderous acts he and his henchmen commit early in the film. The violence is muted and tasteful by today's standards, sometimes occurring offscreen -- yet, interestingly, in some cases what the viewer imagines is more difficult than what is actually shown.
Like SEVEN MEN FROM NOW, THE TALL T was filmed outside beautiful Lone Pine, California. Our family drives through the area most summers as we travel up the 395 to the High Sierras. Watching Boetticher's films, one can almost smell the dust and the pine trees. You can read more about Lone Pine in ON LOCATION IN LONE PINE by the late Dave Holland.
Screenwriter Burt Kennedy later directed one of my favorite comedies, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHERIFF! with James Garner. Kennedy was a veteran of WWII who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery; interesting information on his military career can be read at the official Arlington website. The back of his tombstone reads: "WRITER PRODUCER DIRECTOR OF MOTION PICTURES NOTABLY WESTERNS WHICH HAVE STRIVED TO PRESERVE OUR GREAT AMERICAN HERITAGE."
THE TALL T was filmed in Technicolor and runs 78 minutes. It is available on video.
Update: THE TALL T is now available as part of the Films of Budd Boetticher collection. It can also be purchased as a single title from the Sony Choice "MOD" line.