Anthony Mann, starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins.
Fonda plays Morg Hickman, a sheriff-turned-bounty hunter who brings in the body of an outlaw to the sheriff's office in a small Western town. Morg must remain in town until his reward money arrives, but finds he's persona non grata among most of the townspeople, who turn up their noses at a bounty hunter.
After Morg comes to the aid of the green young sheriff (Anthony Perkins), the two men form a wary friendship. The cynical but kindhearted Morg sets about teaching the sheriff how to stay alive, and meanwhile he develops a quietly understanding relationship with the widow (Betsy Palmer) who rents him a room. The widow has problems of her own; she was married to an Indian and has a half-Indian son which makes her something of an outcast with the local populace.
Eventually the film takes on the air of HIGH NOON (1952), as the sheriff must fend off a lynch mob while the townspeople walk away from helping him.
The movie is at its best when it's a simple character study of Morg's interactions with the sheriff and the widow. There are many subtle, interesting moments that make the film very much worth watching. The Oscar-nominated script by Dudley Nichols has some excellent lines as the older man offers sage advice to the earnest young sheriff, and there's also a very nice payoff regarding the title star in the final action sequence.
I had some hesitation about fully embracing this movie, at least on this first viewing, as I have trouble with kindly old men (John McIntire) and young children (Michel Ray) being endangered. An extended sequence following the old doc (McIntire) from patient to patient is filled with too-obvious foreboding and pumps up the pathos; it's his 75th birthday, there's a surprise party planned, and... I didn't care for this section of the movie, which felt somewhat manipulative. (John McIntire, a master of makeup disguises, was a mere 50 when he filmed this movie, incidentally.)
I also felt that at times Elmer Bernstein's score was a bit too ostentatious, calling attention to itself in a way that worked against the low-key tone of the movie.
On the plus side, the film was photographed in beautiful black and white VistaVision by Loyal Griggs. There are many familiar faces in the supporting cast of this 93-minute film, including Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, Howard Petrie, Russell Simpson, Frank Cady, and James Bell.
An interesting bit of trivia is that Michel Ray, who plays Betsy Palmer's son, married the heiress to the Heineken beer fortune. A Harvard graduate, he is also a wealthy businessman in his own right. He goes by the name Michel de Carvalho.
THE TIN STAR is available on DVD in a beautiful widescreen print. It was also released on VHS. It can also be purchased for download from Amazon.
The trailer is available at Turner Classic Movies.