Sunday, September 17, 2006

Tonight's Movie: The Tall T (1957)

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.

2018 Update: THE TALL T is now available on Blu-ray from Indicator.

2019 Update: I had the wonderful opportunity to see this film in 35mm at The Autry Museum of the American West.


Blogger J.C. Loophole said...

Fans of Randolph Scott Westerns (and John Wayne) will be happy to know that on Novemeber 7th, Warner will be releasing more in their "Triple Feature" series. Their first four discs will be:
Randolph Scott triple feature: The Man Behind the Gun, Thunder Over the Plains and Riding Shotgun (on one double sided disc)
another RS triple Feature: Colt.45, Tall Man Riding, and Forth Worth.
John Wayne triple feature: The Big Stampede / Ride Him Cowboy / Haunted Gold (VERY early JW)
and another JW Triple feature:The Telegraph Trail / Somewhere in Sonora / The Man from Monterey

Check out this link to one of the RS discs:

Pretty nicely priced as well. Most of these films have not been previously available on DVD. Was going to talk about these today at The Shelf, but our site just got FARKed (all over a little something we said about Wal-Mart: so posting to our site is a little slow today. But they should hit the shelves on Nov. 7th. Here's hoping that more will be on the way!

1:27 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Many thanks for the tip and the link, I have bookmarked it! I'll be adding that to the spreadsheet I use to track upcoming releases. :)

Congrats on the link to your blog today! I wasn't familiar with FARK and checked it out.

Best wishes, Laura

1:32 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

I just knew it... You are a queen of organization... You have a SPREAD SHEET for new releases??!!

And I thought I was organized.

Laura!! I bow down to you!! I am NOT worthy!!


5:13 PM  
Blogger Laura said...


I started an Excel file maybe a year ago when the pace of the new "classic" releases was such that my computer notepad was just a mess (grin). I update it as I come across the info and share it with my father, and we split most of the "new" purchases between us and lend them back and forth. (There are a few things we each *have* to own, like the new versions of Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals...) I have columns for the Amazon and Deep Discount DVD prices, and an extra column if I want to input a price from tje Target flyer or elsewhere. Helps make sure I get the best prices! It's also very helpful for planning birthday and Christmas gifts, for instance I can see from my list that the next STARGATE release is shortly before oldest daughter's b'day. :) And occasionally it gives me an idea for a blog post, too!

Some people may think it's a little...well...obsessive (grin)...but I find it a lot of fun and very useful. I recommend it to my fellow movie fans! Laura (who wishes other areas of her life were equally organized...)

10:56 PM  

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