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The Tall T

The Tall T

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The Tall T, Having lost his horse in a bet, Pat Brennan hitches a ride with a stagecoach carrying newlyweds, Willard and Doretta Mims. At the next station the coach and its passengers fall into the hands of a trio of outlaws headed by a man named Usher. When Usher learns that Doretta is the daughter of a rich copper-mine owner, he decides to hold her for ransom. Tension builds over the next 24 hours as Usher awaits a response to his demands and as a romantic attachment grows between Brennan and Doretta.

An unadorned, perfect western.

The Tall T, Movies like this are a lost art form. Simple, concise, they tell their stories without excess adornment. Its funny that as audience tastes have become progressively less refined movies have become more pretentious and obvious. If this movie was made today it would run nearly three hours with a turgid, Wagnerian musical score, and apocalyptic imagery. This film, on the other hand, is simplicity defined, and all the better for it. Its interesting to see the psychology of the characters; at one point Boone says that his cruel compatriots can’t help the way they are, but it is more a way for his character to excuse his own actions away, as he secretly yearns for the kind of life Scott’s character has–the difference being that Scott sticks to his own personal code, and Boone never even developed one. Little moments fill this movie and make it a fine Western: Scott sizing up a bull with an almost child-like look of joy on his face, Scott hitting his head on a stoop and Boone’s unrestrained laughter. Best of all is the beautiful high desert imagery, another lost art being the art of properly filming in the desert without everything looking orange and shimmery. Maybe if modern Hollywood looked to its past rather than computers for salvation more people would go to their movies.

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