A cynical former sheriff turned bounty hunter helps a young, recently appointed acting sheriff with his advice, his experience and his gun.


Anthony Mann


Dudley Nichols (screenplay by), Barney Slater (from a story by) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... Morgan 'Morg' Hickman
Anthony Perkins ... Sheriff Ben Owens
Betsy Palmer ... Nona Mayfield
Michel Ray ... Kip Mayfield
Neville Brand ... Bart Bogardus
John McIntire ... Dr. Joseph Jefferson 'Joe' McCord
Mary Webster ... Millie Parker
Peter Baldwin ... Zeke McGaffey
Richard Shannon ... Buck Henderson
Lee Van Cleef ... Ed McGaffey
James Bell ... Judge Thatcher
Howard Petrie ... Mayor Harvey King
Russell Simpson ... Clem Hall
Hal K. Dawson Hal K. Dawson ... Andy Miller
Jack Kenney ... Sam Hodges


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 <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


For $40 a month and a shiny Tin Star... the young sheriff faced the mob alone... except for the angry ex-sheriff who couldn't watch him die and a hero-worshiping boy who lived only for the day he'd wear a TIn Star of his own! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Anthony Perkins and John McIntire were reunited in Psycho (1960) three years later. See more »


When Doctor Joe McCord is on his way home from delivering Abe and Annie Pickett's baby, Ed McGaffey stops Doctor McCord in the dark and tells him Zeke is sick. In this scene Ed is clean shaven. In the very next scene, while Doctor McCord is treating Zeke in the McGaffey cabin, Ed is glistening with sweat and has a weeks worth of beard stubble on his face. In the next scene in this sequence, when Doctor McCord is leaving, Ed is on the porch asking "Is Zeke gonna be alright?" he is back to being well groomed and clean shaven. See more »


[first lines]
Sheriff Ben Owens: Uh, ju-just getting the feel of these guns.
Morg Hickman: Where's the sheriff?
See more »


Referenced in The Movies: The Films Of Anthony Mann (1967) See more »


For He's a Jolly Good Fellow
Melody: "Marlbrough s'en va-t-en guerre"
See more »

User Reviews

As classic as you can get!
30 May 2000 | by Nazi_Fighter_DavidSee all my reviews

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 life—for 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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Release Date:

6 November 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Tin Star See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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