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The Tall Target (1951)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 870 users  
Reviews: 24 user | 11 critic

A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.

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Airs Tue. Aug. 26, 3:00 AM on TCM

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
John Kennedy
Paula Raymond ...
Ginny Beaufort
...
Colonel Caleb Jeffers
...
Lance Beaufort
...
Rachel - Slave Maid
Richard Rober ...
Lt. Coulter
...
Stranger
...
Homer Crowley -Train Conductor
Florence Bates ...
Mrs. Charlotte Alsop
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Storyline

A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 August 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Man on the Train  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The names of all the stations mentioned in the film on the line as the train travels south out of New York would be familiar to a traveler on the modern Northeast Corridor as they are still used by Amtrak, except for Darby Junction which is a now a station on the Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's Wilmington/Newark regional rail line. Their placement in the film is geographically accurate - Darby Junction would have been the first place the train could have stopped south of Philadelphia. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Railroad noir
3 November 2002 | by (Deming, New Mexico, USA) – See all my reviews

Train movies are usually kind of fun. Everything is tick-tocking back and forth while the train is underway, so there is a sense of constant motion, of imminence in each scene. Also, you get to see the scenery flashing by, which you don't see in an airplane or aboard a ship. And the train can make multiple stops, with something new cropping up each time, opportunities and missed opportunities, which is likewise difficult with airplanes and ships. The train, further, encloses spaces with varied characteristics -- there are seats, compartments, sleeping berths with curtains drawn across them, dining cars, an observation platform on the caboose, a baggage car, a locomotive with a greasy engineer. Put these all together, along with the limited expense involved in a mockup of a train, and it's all pretty appealing. This one is a rather typical noir set aboard such a vehicle in 1861. It has political undertones too. Nobody believes the hero. As is so often the case he finds himself pursued by both the police and the would-be assassins.

The villainy shifts shape. There are lots of shadows. Too many shadows in fact, except for the one or two brief outdoor daytime scenes. It always seems to be nightime aboard the train, whatever time it may be outside. The acting is competent, with Will Geer doing quite well in the part of the conductor, and Ruby Dee a beautiful young woman. It ends happily.

Well, it had to end happily, really. How can you make a movie that ends up with Lincoln being assassinated in 1861? Actually, Pinkerton did smuggle Abe into Washington, with a set of whiskers newly grown for the occasion, which he kept for the rest of his life. But Pinkerton also went on to serve as head honcho of intelligence during Lincoln's administration and lord only knows how many lives were lost through his consistent overestimations of Confederate strength. He gave McLellan all the reason he needed to develop a case of "the slows." Abe should have thanked Pinkerton, shaken his hand at Union Station, and wished him well. Then maybe appointed John Kennedy in his place. One wonders, where are today's Lincolns? Some of our modern presidents give the impression that they could barely read the Gettysburg address, never mind write it. What a calculated and beautifully framed set of ideas in those two hundred and forty-some words. Gary Wills has a neat book on the subject.


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No one has commented on this yet... mlknchz
Who portrayed the little boy on the train? Sheila_Beers
great seeing this knowing Geer's progressive credentials danielj_old999
Kennedy's clothes rdkaram
Will Geer and some food for thought........... jimjoejohnmoore
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