The Tall Target (1951) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The historical fact of a possible assassination attempt on the President-Elect Abraham Lincoln makes the movie very interesting. The drama comes from a fictitious New York police sergeant discovering the plot and boarding the last train to Washington, DC, to protect the new president to be. Dick Powell does a very good job using deduction and logic to find who on the train could be conspirators. He is foiled at different times but manages to succeed even when the conspirators have caught him. The movie's action takes place mostly on the train and the effects of travelling are well done. Historically, several states have already seceded from the union and that included Virginia. That's why Lincoln had to travel to Washington, DC, through Maryland, also a slave state. When he was taking his own "Inaugural Train" the plan was to kill Lincoln in Baltimore during a long stop but Lincoln's supporters did some slight of hand to sneak him on board the last train to the capital. Maybe not Oscar material but a very enjoyable piece of entertainment.

  • In 1861, New York Police Sergeant John Kennedy finds a plan to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. His chief Superintendent Simon G. Stroud does not believe in his report and Kennedy resigns to hunt the conspirators alone. He informs to Stroud that he had sent his report to the Secretary of War and requests a meeting with Lincoln in Baltimore. He boards the train to Baltimore and does not find his friend Inspector Reilly with his train ticket that was waiting for him, but finds his wallet. Kennedy seeks out Reilly and finds body on a platform; however the corpse falls off the train. When he returns to his seat, there is an impostor posing to be Kennedy but he brings the conductor to the cabin of his acquaintance Colonel Caleb Jeffers that confirms his identity. Kennedy looks for a gun to arrest the impostor but the criminal subdues him with his gun. They leave the train at the next stop but Kennedy fight with the impostor and Colonel Jeffers shoots and kills the man. Kennedy returns to the train and soon he discovers several conspirators in the train. Will he be capable to save Abraham Lincoln?

  • 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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