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Veteran bounty-hunter Morg Hickman rides into a town in danger. The sheriff has been killed, and young inexperienced Ben Owens named a temporary replacement until a permanent can be found. Ben wants to be that permanent replacement, so needs to impress the townspeople with his skill. When he finds that Morg was a sheriff for a long time before he became a bounty-hunter, he asks the older man to teach him. Morg thinks that being a sheriff is a foolish goal, but agrees to instruct Ben in handling people, more important to a sheriff than handling a gun. Written by
Ken Yousten <email@example.com>
The contribution made by Henry Fonda to classic Westerns is incredible : he made his point early with "The Oxbow Incident," his potent presence in "Drums Along the Mohawk"... He was excellent as Wyatt Earp in "My Darling Clementine," even better as the stubborn, mistaken lieutenant-colonel in "Fort Apache " a legendary gunman in "Warlock" and the hardened gunfighter-tutor in Anthony Mann's "The Tin Star."
Fonda plays a solitary-bounty hunter ("I'm not the law. I work inside it for money!") who had once been a sheriff, and who had given up the badge in disgust of the shameful way he had been treated by the citizens in a decisive tragic moment of his lifefor which he lost his wife and son...
Fonda is quiet, sure, polite, sincere and appealing... Teaching Michael Ray, it was clear that he knew not only his guns but human nature... He is human, kind, anxious, worry and tender with the young boy...
Anthony Perkins is attractive in his doubts about taking action or decision... He is naïve and innocent, also incompetent for the job of an officer responsible for law and order... He always looks to Fonda for leadership, but he is eager to be a firm sheriff...
The conversation between Fonda and Perkins are the heart of the movie, which deals more with character than Gunplay: "You got to keep cool and have absolute confidence. You lack confidence." "A decent man does not want to kill. But if you're gonna shoot, you shoot to kill." "Study men. A gun is only a tool. You can master a gun if you got the knack. Harder to learn man."
The film had racism: When Bogardus kills the Indian, in the back, outside the saloon, he says: "No sheriff will disarm a white man for shooting a mingy Indian.You, an Injun lover?"
Betsy Palmer plays Nona Mayfield, a woman compelled to live outside the town because she married an Indian: "I'm just so used to everybody hating Indians."
The film had also intuition and humor:
Kip Mayfield to Fonda: "Don't I look like a sheriff?" And Fonda
replying: "You look more like a sheriff than the sheriff does."
Abbe Pickett, after being a father for eleven girls and now to a boy, asks: "You sure it ain't another girl?" and the doc replies: "Well, I hope I'm not too old to know the difference."
John McIntire is fine as the old doc whose big dream was: "I wish you two to get together."
Neville Brand enjoys oppressing, intimidating and persecuting...
Anthony Mann's "The Tin Star" is strong on location work, tense, realistic, technically competent... The film had dusty action, and a picturesque old town with its bank, hotel, saloon, jail, hanging tree and all the cowardly citizens turned out to watch...
With elements of "Shane," and "High Noon," the film is a very good Western, 'as classic as you can get.'
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