The Tall T, 1957
Dir: Budd Boetticher
January 20, 2010
While looking around for something to do after I finish Murnau (only 2 films left!), I realized that for at least one of the "series" that I do, I don't want it to be just one director. I like that, and thinking about things that they continually use in their films is interesting, but I want to change it a little bit. The Hawks and Truffaut series will continue, if anyone cares, so don't worry about that. So, since I've been doing a few, I'm going to start a Western series. I'm not sure if this makes anyone else excited, but I am. In my search for a place to start, I was looking through "best Western" lists, and I found some stuff that looks semi-interesting. Budd Boetticher made a series of "B" Westerns in the 50s with Randolph Scott, which many people classify as "psychological" Westerns. So right there, it's looking good. This particular film caught my eye because it is based on a short story by a famous author. Yup, the author is Elmore Leonard, and the short story is "The Captives".
The Tall T is a lean (77 minutes), taut, and remarkable film because it really expresses a lot of the thoughts that I've been having about film in general lately, and particularly the Westerns that I've watched recently. It's a subtle, character driven film that really throws any kind of driving narrative in the wind, to the point that near the beginning of the film, where it starts wandering a little, I was like, "Where the fuck is this going?" Don't worry though. It goes to the most awesome place ever, way more awesome than even The Big Sky (1952). As an ex-"ramrod", Brennan (Scott) is living a rather lonely life working his own homestead. There are a few episodes in the beginning setting up the the film that may seem hokey and annoying, but seriously, there is no bullshit involved (explained later), and it sets up an important aspect of Brennan's character. It's the calm before the proverbial storm, setting up "normal" Western cliches that will be shattered later. Once he loses his "ride" and meets up with the stagecoach, the film kicks into gear.
has to happen, but something about the strange, "lost brothers" relationship that Boone and Scott have makes you think that it could have happened a different way). Randolph Scott, I must say, is the Western star I've been looking for.