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.
The star of the film is John Wayne and it is I feel a good role for him. Although it lacks the depth of his greatest performances in the likes of 'Red River' and 'The Searchers', it does have the light hearted element of 'Rio Bravo', undeniably one of his career highlights. He stars as Rocklin, a tough cowboy recruited by a rancher named Red Cardell to help stop an outbreak of cattle rustling. He is apparently immune to the charms of women- "I never feel sorry for anything that happens to a woman." When he steps off the train however his new employer has been murdered and Rocklin has to find out who is responsible for such a brutal act.
It is after he beats Clint Harolday (Russell Wade) at cards that he comes face to face with the losers' angry sister Arly, played by the beautiful Ella Raines who despite falling for Rocklin almost instantly and although clearly considerably shorter in height than him, is determined to stand up for herself- "I always get what I want". Very soon they are engaged in a humorous battle of the sexes which Arly is determined not to lose, despite her obvious attraction towards the Dukes' character. The exchanges between the pair are sexy as neither is prepared to swallow their pride to give in to the other; "You might as well know right now that no woman is going to get me hooked, tied and branded"/ "Don't be so sure. Don't think I'm doing badly." Witness the pleasure Arly gets in sacking Rocklin from her employment, and her boasts of making love to him. This is the only Ella Raines film I have seen to date but I really loved watching her and would jump at the opportunity to see another of her performances.
Contrast Arly with the other glamorous lady in the film- Clara Cardell (Audrey Long)- and you have two entirely different women. Although also interested in Rocklin Clara I would say is sheepish and easily dominated by her spiteful, stuck up aunt Elizabeth Martin (Elisabeth Risdon) who hides from her niece a secret that links Clara and Rocklin and this explains her disdain for the latter- she tells Clara to stop "throwing yourself at that wretch". Risdons' character has little time for many townsfolk- "The rudeness of people in these parts is appalling". Frankly most people feel the same way about her.
Many of the best scenes in the film (and certainly the funniest) involve Dave the alcoholic stagecoach driver (played by the wonderful George 'Gabby' Hayes). Just watch his introduction as Blossom the horse knocks over his priceless bottle of whiskey- "I oughta poison you!" His charismatic, accident-prone character has many great lines, for example his analogy of whiskey and women- "They both fool you but you never figure how to do without them." He is even referred to as a "hairy beast"- no prizes for guessing who by. Add to the mix the great support of the ever dependable Ward Bond as Judge Garvey, one of the villains. He rivals Rocklin for toughness and they engage in a great fist fight.
The setting is typical of the genre, with many of the western hallmarks such as a dusty town in the middle of a desert containing cactuses (the latter are missed out in many westerns but not this one), a card game, a stagecoach, alcohol and gun fights. But less typical is the noir element- the hero being framed for a murder crime he did not commit for example, which results in a classic whodunit. Another western which to me is reminiscent of film noir is Pursued (1947).
Overall then a hugely enjoyable movie which does exactly what it sets out to do- it entertains throughout and I'm sure audiences who saw this film at the cinema went home happy!
In later years Wayne developed this "loner"/ "don't mess with me" type to such a degree that it has become part of movie lore.We take it for granted .This was the film where it burst full fledged on to the screen.And I believe the "macho walk" for which Wayne is so famous was displayed as never before in a showdown with his old nemesis in many 1930's films, Harry Woods. For me this was the obvious lead-in to his monumental performance in "Red River"
The word "masterpiece" is over-used, so I will simply remark that this film is something special. It is difficult to envisage it working in any other setting than the American west. It is a "western"... but oh so much more as well.
Gabby Hayes delivers a performance which can only be described as "iconic". For someone who many say could not act, John Wayne's portrayal of a man with hidden wounds as he boards the stage with Gabby Hayes at the beginning of the film is subtle and under-stated but very, very good. For those who wonder what I am blathering about, consider the line "I never feel sorry for anything that happens to a woman." The dialogue throughout is first rate and where else could you see a thoughtful John Wayne in an apron, kneading dough ? Ella Raines's entrance into the story is packed with power and intensity... and she never lets up for the rest of the film. A memorable performance.
There are extraordinary depths to this film. It seems to me that the writers and the director were well acquainted with how humankind can get it "wrong". There are no really "bad" people in this film... just people who, through weakness, delusions about who they are and what they are entitled to... mess up their own lives... and the lives of others. Note that these people tend to be "professionals"... with definite hints of accountancy or legal qualifications. They've missed "the point" and all that life has to offer.
Like all great films, it is clearly a team effort... and when they made this one, boy did they have a team.
He's in this one, Tall In The Saddle. I'm so happy I found this film. John Wayne in his most heroic form! With iron fists and swagger that charms the hottest ladies. Ella Raines, hubba hubba! The story is fast moving and wild, with all the characteristics of a fine mystery.
The positive reviews are right on the money. The trailer doesn't show all the best action, just gives you a taste. This forgotten gem needs to be preserved among the finest examples of the art form known as Traditional Western, polished and put on Blu-Ray. Holla if you hear me!
The film is beautifully shot, the B & W cinematography accents both the poverty at the stagecoach stop at the beginning and the light in the hills later on are outstanding.
But for me what makes this really special is the outstanding romance, Haines is at her most stunning and simply drop-dead gorgeous here, and even 75 years on, she and the Duke light up the screen magnificently.
All in all, a great movie: if Western's are about being strong while still caring, being independent, and about bravery then this is all it should be. Shame it's seen so seldom and so little known compared to Wayne's bigger films - definitely recommended.
Ward Bond, Gabby Hayes, and a host of recognizable others, all blend together to make watching this a very enjoyable experience.
I have this movie on DVD and play it probably once a month (more when friends come over and request a viewing). And with each viewing, it only gets better.
If you're not exactly a John Wayne fan, it doesn't matter, you'll find this movie well worth watching!
Now one observation I'll make about John Wayne. I've seen all of his Lone Star Westerns from the mid 1930's when he was churning them out at the rate of seven or eight films a year. He looked real young and handsome back then in his mid-twenties, but only a decade later he appeared to have seasoned into the quintessential John Wayne 'look'. In fact, he looks perhaps to be in his forties rather than his thirties. Anyway, that's the way I see it.
What makes this picture so interesting, apart from Rocklin's investigation of the murder of Red Cardell, is the obvious chemistry going on between Wayne and his pair of leading ladies. Meaner than rattlesnakes Arly makes no bones about it, while the more demure Clara Cardell (Audrey Long) pines for him with rather more understatement. I was actually rooting for Clara for most of the picture, right up until Rocklin called her 'cousin'. Should have seen that coming, but the writers did a pretty good job of keeping Rock's identity under wraps until late in the picture.
Say, remember when Arly and her bodyguard Tala (Frank Puglia) took the short cut through the pass and she fell off her horse? When she got up, her horse didn't have a saddle - how did that happen? And not for anything, but I'll have to see this picture again to clear something up unless someone can explain otherwise. When Clint Harolday is shot through the window of the hotel, I could have sworn that it was Judge Garvey (Ward Bond) who grabbed the gun from Rock's holster. But later on, it's revealed that the uncle Harolday (Don Douglas) did it. What did I miss?
Anyway, this is a real enjoyable Western and John Wayne fans ought to be pleasantly surprised. You even get to see him reprise a familiar Lone Star type ending when the film closes out with Rock and Miss Arly in more than a clinch to wrap up the picture. If you stick around long enough for the closing credits, you'll also learn that this film was #854 on the country's 'Overseas Program' roster during the War years.