Monday, September 06, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Tall Man Riding (1955)

TALL MAN RIDING is a solid Randolph Scott Western with a good cast, although the ever-mounting body count becomes a bit tedious by the film's end.

Larry Madden (Randolph Scott) rides into town to settle an old score with Tucker Ordway (Robert Barratt), who whipped him and broke up his relationship with Ordway's daughter Corinna (Dorothy Malone) years before.

Larry's befriended by pretty saloon singer Reva (Peggie Castle), but she's about the only friendly person in town. A number of people complicate Larry's attempts to get even with Ordway, including saloon owner Cibo Pearlo (John Baragrey), the Peso Kid (Paul Richards), and Deputy Barclay (Mickey Simpson). The plot is much too complicated to explain concisely, but a whole lot of people are murdered, and more are shot by Larry in self-defense.

It's to Scott's credit that the film remains interesting although the plot peters out amidst one gun battle after another. The vengeful Larry's not a very nice person, but he's got a code of ethics which sets him above most of the other characters in the film.

Malone's Corrina, like Larry, spends most of her time being angry. Viewers don't get much of a sense of what they once saw in each other.

The most interesting performers in the film, aside from Scott, are Castle, who later starred in LAWMAN; John Dehner as Larry's attorney; and Lane Chandler as Ordway's loyal righthand man. Castle comes close to walking away with the film as the saloon girl who draws Larry's admiration.

The film has a nice outdoorsy feel, attractively filmed by Wilfrid Cline on Southern California locations. There's a blessed lack of back projections and some very fine shots, such as a low angle view of a wagon heading straight for the camera.

The movie was directed by Lesley Selander. The film runs 83 minutes.

TALL MAN RIDING is available in a beautiful print in a three-film DVD set along with Scott's COLT .45 (1950) and FORT WORTH (1951).

Update: There's more poster art on this film over at 50 Westerns From the 50s.

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