Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Tall T (1957)

The other day I mentioned this wonderful Western, but it occurred to me that I never actually did a review of it here. Well ... time to fix that oversight.

As Pat Brennan (Randolph Scott) puts it himself, it just isn't his day. He loses his horse in a bet and when he catches a ride on a stagecoach, it gets robbed by Frank Usher (Richard Boone) and his ruthless gang. It turns out that one of the other passengers, Doretta Mims (Maureen O'Sullivan) has a rich family and the gang decides to hold them all to try to collect a ransom from her father. From that point on it is a cat-and-mouse game between Brennan and Usher as to who will out smart the other.

Randolph Scott and Maureen O'Sullivan get close in a cave

I loved so many things about this great little film. First of all, it is terribly suspenseful with great characters, great performances and great scenery. It holds the audience's interest from beginning to end. I love that Randolph Scott was nearly 60, still looking great, and doing these kinds of roles that called for a raw physicality and he pulled it off. I mean, he was still a Grade A movie star - what an amazing actor. Plus, him and Richard Boone toying with each other, that is a big part of what makes this film such a success. Without two great performances there, this would have been a flop.

It was unusual for me that I found myself actually kinda liking Frank Usher, a little bit. He plays a bad guy who holds everyone else to a certain moral code, which is interesting. He doesn't like the other members of his gang because they are ruthless and stupid. After watching Mr. Mims basically give away who his wife is in hopes of saving his own skin Usher says, "That boy puts his wife on a stake and then wants to kiss her goodbye. You figure me that one?" Later, he goes into the place they are holding her, brings her a plate of food and covers her up gently. From that, you have to believe that there is some kind of humanity in there somewhere and you wonder if it will win out in the end. He is not your average bad guy and I liked the added complexity. Like I said, you almost wanna like him.

I should say, "Nights in Rodanthe" should take note of my favorite scene. The hot kissing scene. Randolph Scott grabs Maureen O'Sullivan with his hand around her neck, whips her towards him, then teases her as if he is going to kiss her, pulls back and finally plants one on her. Wow. "Nights in Rodanthe" could have used some of that chemistry. I tell ya, Randy still had it going on.

Plus, as if everything else isn't already great about it. This movie happens to have one of my favorite last lines. After Randolph Scott and Maureen O'Sullivan have gone through this terrible ordeal and are finally safe, she is crying and trying to pull herself together. They both barely cheated death and as they begin to walk away he says, "Come on now, its gonna be a nice day." That is such a great line for the end of the movie. It is such a great little Western. Definitely add this one to your list if you haven't seen it.


kda0121 said...

This is one of my favorites in the Scott/Boetticher group. There's even time for a little comedy, with Randy getting thrown from the bull and diving into the water trough to escape the charging animal. Maureen O'Sullivan is a middle aged woman in this and still terribly sexy. There are several comments throughout by various sorts that "she ain't much to look at" Randy says something like, "She looks good enough to me". I totally agree.

AbbyNormal said...

Karl - I agree. This was a great one. I think I have watched it three times already. The chemistry between Boone and Scott, as cat and mouse, really helped it stand out as well. Thanks for telling me to watch this one!