The Tall T (1957)



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Movie Info

Perhaps the grittiest and grimmest of the Randolph Scott-Budd Boetticher collaborations, The Tall T was adapted by Burt Kennedy from the Elmore Leonard short story The Captive. Scott plays a former ranch foreman who, along with newlyweds Maureen O'Sullivan and John Hubbard, is held hostage at a deserted stagecoach station by ruthless bandit Richard Boone and his henchmen Henry Silva and Skip Homeier. Since we already know that Boone has no qualms about killing a freckle-faced 10 year old boy, we shudder to think of what's in store for Scott and his fellow captives once Boone carries out his plan to rob the next stagecoach. In Boetticher's time-honored Mexican Standoff fashion, Scott bargains with Boone for the life of O'Sullivan, but his efforts are undercut by Hubbard's cowardly treachery. The film's sparse, carefully controlled tension level bursts into full-out bloodshed only minutes before the final fade-out. Curiously, the title The Tall T is never explained at any time; certainly the "T" doesn't refer to Randolph Scott, whose character name is Pat Brennan.

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Critic Reviews for The Tall T

All Critics (5) | Top Critics (1)

Conceals a complex world view beneath its desolate and blood-soaked landscapes.

Jun 30, 2014 | Full Review…

Boetticher unfolds this hostage scenario on bare natural prosceniums, and with stark delicacy lets the characters' personal moral codes brush against and shade into each other

May 26, 2014 | Full Review…

Western gem full of trickster characters and an odd take on gender.

Aug 10, 2011 | Full Review…

The Tall T has some of the best sequences in the "Ranown" series.

Nov 6, 2008 | Full Review…

A marvelous but bleak psychological Western.

Apr 28, 2003 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Tall T

Awesome minimalist western. The dialog crackles. it should, it's taken directly from the Elmore Leonard short story it's` adapted from. If you've seen a lot of westerns, and haven't seen Tall T check it out. If you haven't, I wouldn't start here. See the classics, then come back to this one. You'll get more out of it. Trust me.

Ken Stachnik
Ken Stachnik

Super Reviewer

Although the main hero is kind of boring and, at times, annoying, the great performances by the villains make it much more tolerable, and often pretty fun. Still, compared to some other westerns, this one doesn't quite measure up. It's just a little too cheesy to be taken too seriously. Still fun though.

Jared H
Jared H

Super Reviewer

excellent script based on an early elmore leonard short story, excellent direction by the ever economical budd boetticher, excellent performances by some iconic actors = one excellent western

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


"The Tall T" is an entertaining western that builds slowly in setting up a tense confrontation, replete with casual brutality, between three characters brought together by their mutual avarice. Rancher Pat Brennan(Randolph Scott) loses a bet with his former boss(Robert Burton) and in the bargain his horse, so he has to walk all the way back home. Along the way, he gets a ride from his pal Rintoon(Arthur Hunnicutt) who is transporting Doretta(Maureen O'Sullivan) and Willard Mims(John Hubbard), a newly married couple. One would be happy for the newlyweds if Willard had not married Doretta for her family's money.(Willard is the kind of person who gives cowards a bad name.) Frank Usher(Richard Boone) resorts to a criminal life to raise money while looking forward to owning a ranch like Pat in the future. In return, Pat inquires why he only asks for $50,000(which is still a lot of money). Frank's reply is that he is not greedy.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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