The Tall T
|Key Cast||Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O'Sullivan|
Randolph Scott Squares Off Against an Outlaw Gang in Budd Boetticher’s Rousing “The Tall T”
In The Tall T (1957), director Budd Boetticher uses a Burt Kennedy script to adapt the Elmore Leonard short story, “The Captives,” into a lively and intelligent Western starring one of Boetticher’s regular collaborators, the actor Randolph Scott.
Randolph Scott plays rancher Pat Brennan, making his way to the spread of a former employer—the Tall T—to buy a startup bull for his own. Frustrated in his efforts, he ends up hitching a ride in a honeymoon coach carrying the newlyweds Willard and Doretta Mims (John Hubbard and Maureen O’Sullivan). The trio—steered by the driver Ed Rintoon (Arthur Hunnicutt)—fall prey to a gang of outlaws aiming to rob the coach. The cold and calculating ringleader, Frank Usher (Richard Boone), supported by Chink (Henry Silva) and Billy Jack (Skip Homeier), decides, at the urging of a panicked Willard, to ransom Doretta, who’s the daughter of a wealthy mine-owner. He orders Willard—escorted by Billy Jack—off to collect the $50,000 exchange, then takes Pat and Doretta to the gang’s remote hideout.
The good-natured Pat’s intelligence, steadiness-of-mind, and innate grit are destined to play critical roles in this tale of betrayal, cowardice, scheming, and romance—all set against the rugged, rocky landscapes of California’s spectacular Alabama Hills, in the lee of the Sierra Nevada. In no small part due to the finesse of its script and direction, as well as the skill of a heavyweight cast, “The Tall T” western endures as a standout film from one of the genre’s true golden eras.
In acknowledgement of this movie’s superb style, “The Tall T” was added to the United States National Film Registry by the National Film Preservation Board in 2000. Variety magazine applauded this movie and described it as “an unconventional western [that] passes up most oater clichés.”
• “The Tall T” is the second western movie collaboration between director Bud Boetticher, actor Randolph Scott and screenplay writer Burt Kennedy. Together, this director/actor/writer trio made a series of superb western movies that are classics. The other western films that they partnered on were:
Seven Men from Now
• Burt Kennedy began his Hollywood movie career writing screenplays and achieved much notoriety for his work on the Bud Boetticher and Randolph Scott series of western movies. He then became a movie director, primarily of westerns, and achieved even greater success as a director. Some of Burt Kennedy’s notable western films are:
The War Wagon (for which he won a Bronze Wrangler Western Heritage Award)
The Train Robbers
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• Selected in 2000 for the U.S. Library of Congress National Film Registry.
The Tall T
Randolph Scott plays rancher Pat Brennan, making his way to “The Tall T” to buy a startup bull for his own. Little does he know – his troubles are just starting.
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The Tall T
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