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Saturday, October 05, 2013

Is "Tall T" For Terror, Tall, or a Tall Or Terrible Ranch?

I Would Ride The Caterpillar, Possibly The "Full Circus Size" Carousel, Skip
the Roller Coaster (safety concern), and Maybe Part Of Hellcats Of The Navy
In Favor Of The Canteen and Other Jolly Roger Kiddieland Attractions.
Note That It's Here Where They Identify The Tall T As A Ranch. 

Greenbriar's Tall T Way Of Life Enhanced by HD

T Is For Terror? Now I Am Confused.
A first exposure to Scott/Brown/Boetticher came via this, among few times a movie really transformed me at adult age (that story told here). How many pics do we know virtually by heart? (my list may well run into hundreds) I don't tire of The Tall T, and now having captured it on HD (Sony's Movie Channel) redoubles likelihood of increased revisit. Interesting how Randy smiles near constant right up to onset of crisis, then never does again for Tall T's balance. And what of the title's meaning? The ad above links it with character Tenfoorde's ranch, being his smaller-scale Rieta or Spanish Bit, I suppose. The S/B/B's were shot almost entirety outdoors --- was that cheaper in a long run? Had to have saved insofar as set construct, rock and scrub being all TT needed for backdrop. The Tall T is a western where writing amounts to chief contribution (Burt Kennedy), that hoisting the auteur theory upon a petard, as it was clearly Kennedy over Boetticher that distinguished the S/B/B's (then why don't we call them the S/B/B/K's, or better yet, the K/S/B/B's?). To think 1957 took The Tall T so utterly for granted; if we toted up titles of outstanding small pics from that year, the number would be considerable.

Willard Mims (John Hubbard) Is Yellow, Selfish, and No Good, But He Does Save Lives

Richard Boone Explains To Randy That a Western Is Only
As Good As It's Principal Heavy
A Greenbriar reader once recalled seeing The Tall T on an ozoner triple with The Lineup and Seventh Voyage Of Sinbad. What bliss ... with corndogs and sodee pop for a chaser. Westerns getting tougher by '57 allowed shotgun blasts to the face, a new level of screen violence; in this instance, it happens twice. They say actioners are measured in terms of a villain's strength, for which The Tall T stands as vivid-est example. Some call Richard Boone's performance "method," a damning with faint praise. I say if this result came of method, give us more. Randolph Scott was said to have spent breaks reading The Wall Street Journal. For him, the movies were pure business, art entering in to extent of making them saleable. Maybe we need more like him and them today. I'm beginning to rethink the despised character of Willard Mims (John Hubbard) --- after all, it's his selfish idea that preserves life for others --- without it, we'd have he/Randy/Maureen in the well, and a movie over in thirty minutes. Sometimes it's cravenest cowards that enable heroism to save the day.


Blogger John McElwee said...

Dick Dinman remembers a 1957 encounter with "The Tall T" at Jones Beach, with "Loving You" for a warm-up! ---

Hey John, I have vivid memories of the first time I saw THE TALL T which is one of my five or six all-time favorite westerns. It was summer and my mother and I took the train to Jones Beach which then necessitated a transfer to the bus that would take us directly to the beach. The bus terminal was across the street from a neighborhood Loew's theater which was playing the Presley film LOVING YOU which interested me not a whit but I happened to notice that the barely visible on the marquee second feature was THE TALL T and since I made it a point never to miss a Scott film (easy to do in N.Y.) I convinced my mother to drop me off at the theater while she continued on to the beach. I remember grudgingly tolerating the last half of LOVING YOU (and being aghast at how much Lizabeth Scott had aged) but after ten minutes of THE TALL T I knew even then that this was a very special film and it remains to this day , along with RIDE THE HIGH COUNTRY, one of my two favorite late career Scott films. I consider it a masterpiece from first frame to last. Cheers, Dick Dinman

4:51 PM  
Blogger Mark Mayerson said...

I agree with you about Burt Kennedy. When I saw Scott-Boettichers like Decision at Sundown that he didn't script, the films were a disappointment.

However, I'm also disappointed by the westerns I've seen that Kennedy directed. They also don't live up to his work with Boetticher.

Boetticher and Kennedy were good, but they were much better together.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

I'm putting my vote in for Boetticher-Kennedy being better than Kennedy alone, but Boetticher alone has some very fine films (notably The Bullfighter and the Lady and The Killer is Loose) without Kennedy (or Scott). The fairest thing to say is that when you had a dry, spare, tough script from Kennedy, Boetticher had just the virtues of rendering it in a dry, spare, tough fashion that didn't screw it up and achieved its full cinematic potential.

The other figure here is Harry Joe Brown, who produced most of the Boetticher-Scott westerns. He too, at minimum, knew how not to screw these up, and probably played a major role-- as did Scott-- in encouraging Kennedy to write without concern for conventional commercial sentiment. (Cinesation just played a silent Ken Maynard that Brown directed, and even in 1930 it's got a tough, no-BS tone that Scott et al, wouldn't have disapproved of in the least.)

So I don't think anyone is the auteur of the Scott-Boetticher films-- I think they had a team in rare sympathy at work on them.

10:08 PM  

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