Tall in the Saddle (1944)
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Wayne is the straight arrow Joel McCrea-Gary Cooper like hero who's come to town because he's been sent for by Red Cardell, a local rancher who's concerned about an outbreaking of cattle rustling. When Wayne arrives he finds Cardell murdered and a few others occur before the truth comes out.
Wayne has two leading ladies, prim and proper easterner Audrey Long and hard riding Ella Raines. Raines in those tight cowboy outfits is something to see. Her scenes with the Duke have some real spark to them. Raines had a Lauren Bacall-like appeal and should have risen higher as a movie sex symbol.
Old friends of the Duke like Ward Bond and Paul Fix are in the cast as is Gabby Hayes. Hayes, who was the quintessential cowboy sidekick was never better than as Dave, the old stagedriver who befriends the Duke and sticks with him when it gets pretty dark for him. I remember Gabby Hayes with his television show for kiddies in the 1950s and supposedly he was anything but the illiterate old coot he normally played. During his pre-Stagecoach period, Hayes appeared in several films with Wayne. In fact my title quote is one of two favorite lines he says in Tall In The Saddle.
The other favorite line is a piece of wisdom that's just as valuable today as in 1944. When the Duke asks Gabby how he feels about law and order, Gabby replies "depends on who's dishing it out."
Check out "Tall" for a good taste of Marin's style. You'll find plenty of John Wayne, hellcat Ella Raines, wonderful Gabby Hayes (who gets knocked down twice while Wayne punches out a villain in one hilarious scene) plus Wayne/Ford touring company regular Ward Bond who plays the heavy in this one.
There's a lot going for this film--a love triangle around the nonchalant Wayne, a full quota of western chase scenes, a showdown in the streets and some snappy dialogue to boot.
It's a fun film and worth catching the next time it rolls across the small screen on "John Wayne Theater."
This film makes very good use of character actors (Fix, Gabby, and the others). The producers trusted them enough to really feature them in some scenes, and they deliver. It seems that most producers (in the 1940's as well as today) are afraid to take the camera off the film's star for fear of not making big box-office.
Wayne does a great job in a no-nonsense, straight-arrow role. It is amazing how he could make such a character charismatic, rather than wooden. Ella Raines and Wayne should have made more movies together because they had good chemistry. More importantly Raines was capable of portraying one of the major character traits of the western United States expansion- strong women.
Film buffs can view "Tall in the Saddle" as good movie-making, but anyone can just view it as good entertainment and not even stop to analyze anything. Perhaps that is the genius of a film like this.
It doesn't take long for things to heat up in this movie. There is good humor supplied by none other than the great Gabby Hayes. Ward Bond plays the low down dirty lawyer/judge. Paul Fix (pre Rifleman) as one of the bad men. A must see movie
Well worth watching.
Second, the movie is very well executed. All actors are quite good, starting with the young Duke, who delivers a very solid and typical performance. The directing is also first-rate, as is the cinematography (as far as be judged from the rather good Laserdisc and DVD transfers); only the editing does perhaps leave something to be desired, but not to the point of preventing appreciating the other qualities of the movie.
I'd like to finish this review by emphasizing that my rating (7/10) is actually pretty conservative and prudent. If I were to go by my heart and forget about my "brain", I would rate this movie a 10/10.
Trust a movie buff and rent or buy "Tall in the Saddle"; you will not be disappointed.
A stranger named Rocklin (Wayne) arrives in town on a stagecoach driven by a whiskey swilling driver named Dave (George "Gabby" Hayes)seeking a local rancher Red Cardell who had offered hum a job. It turns out that Cardell has been murdered and his niece Clara Cardell (Audrey Long), along with her crusty old guardian Miss Martin (Elizabeth Risdon) have come to claim her uncle's ranch. Judge Garvey (Ward Bond) is looking after the Cardell's affairs and has plans of his own for the property.
Meanwhile Rocklin faces down young Clint Harolday (Russell Wade) in a card game and sends the young man home embarrassed. The next day Rocklin encounters Clint's firebrand sister Arly who takes after him with her gun. However,there is an immediate attraction between the two although Rocklin is also attracted to the lovely Clara at the same time.
Judge Garvey and Miss Martin scheme to wrest control of the Cardell ranch from Clara. Rocklin takes a job with the Harolday ranch at the request of Harolday (Donald Douglas)to keep an eye on things and find out who murdered Cardell. Of course he clashes with Arly and she winds up firing him.
Later Rocklin is framed for the murder of young Clint and flees the town seeking to clear himself. Arly along with her sinister bodyguard Taro (Frank Puglia), who has witnessed the murder, also seek the truth. Finally Rocklin has a showdown with Garvey and his boys (Paul Fix, Harry Woods) learns the identity of the real killer and.........
Wayne is Wayne the true and honest rough and tough hero once again, a role that he had come to perfect. Raines is beautiful and feisty as the scrappy Arly. Audrey Long is more of the stereo typed western heroine as Clara. Gabby Hayes, in his final appearance with Wayne is well, Gabby Hayes the cantankerous old timer that we all came to love. Ward Bond makes a swarthy villain. Oddly enough, although he and Wayne were life long personal friends, they did not appear together that often prior to this film. Frank Puglia as the sinister Taro was unbilled in this film but stands out nonetheless.
In addition to Harry Woods and Paul Fix (who also co-wrote the script), there are several western veterans in the supporting cast. Look for Raymond Hatton as Hayes' drinking pal, Emory Parnell as the sheriff, and Cy Kendall, Russell Simpson, Eddie Waller, Hank Bell and Clem Bevans in a variety of roles. And from the blink and you'll miss him department, a very young Ben Johnson as a townsman.