Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, Maureen O'Sullivan, Arthur Hunnicutt, Skip Homeier, Henry Silva, John Hubbard, Robert Burton, Fred E. Sherman, Christopher Olsen
Written by: Burt Kennedy, based on a story by Elmore Leonard
Directed by: Budd Boetticher
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 78
Date: 04/01/1957
IMDB

The Tall T (1957)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Candy Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

The Tall T is one of the seven excellent "B" Westerns made between 1956 and 1960 by director Budd Boetticher and star Randolph Scott. Based on an early short story by Elmore Leonard, The Tall T departs slightly from the Boetticher/Scott formula in that it's less suggestive and more concrete.

Scott plays Pat Brennan, an unmarried rancher who is still building up his own estate. After a run of bad luck, he finds himself kidnapped along with a pair of newlyweds and a coach driver. The new husband immediately sells out his wife, claiming that her wealthy father will pay their ransom. That leaves Brennan to care for the lady Doretta Mims (played by cutie Maureen O'Sullivan, looking dowdy and subdued here).

The lead bad guy, Frank Usher (Richard Boone) eventually plans to kill them, but keeps them alive while waiting for the money to arrive. Usher becomes interested in Brennan and keeps trying to strike up conversations, although their relationship doesn't quite click like the ones between Scott and the villains in the other films, and Usher's motivations are muddled (he has no reason for keeping Brennan alive).

Moreover, Brennan enters into a very definite relationship with Doretta, with a clear romantic payoff, which is something of a disappointment in these otherwise ambiguous tales.

Despite these slight drifts, The Tall T has some of the best sequences in the series, including the masterful use of the rocky terrain, the dark cave in which Brennan and Doretta are kept prisoner and the stagecoach sequences. And the images of Brennan protecting a package of peppermint candy -- a gift for a friend's boy -- is a keeper.

This one was added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in 2000. See also The Films of Budd Boetticher.

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