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The Legend of Tom Dooley (1959)

Tom Dooley and Country Boy are on the run after killing an enemy soldier not knowing the war is over. The Command refuses to give them some slack for making this tragic but honest mistake and sends a lawman after them.


Ted Post


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Complete credited cast:
Michael Landon ... Tom Dooley
Jo Morrow ... Laura Foster
Jack Hogan Jack Hogan ... Charlie Grayson
Richard Rust ... Country Boy
Dee Pollock ... Abel
Ken Lynch ... Father
Howard Wright Howard Wright ... Sheriff Joe Dobbs
Ralph Moody ... Doc Henry
John Cliff ... Lieutenant
Cheerio Meredith Cheerio Meredith ... Meg
Gary Hunley Gary Hunley ... The Kid
Anthony Jochim Anthony Jochim ... Preacher
Jeff Morris Jeff Morris ... Confederate Soldier


Tom Dooley and Country Boy are on the run after killing an enemy soldier not knowing the war is over. The Command refuses to give them some slack for making this tragic but honest mistake and sends a lawman after them.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


One of America's Great Love Stories That Inspired a Song...And a Fury of a Movie! See more »


Drama | Western


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Release Date:

July 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Keine Gnade für Tom Dooley See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Upon its initial release, the film was often paired with Have Rocket -- Will Travel (1959) for exhibition in theaters. See more »


Featured in Michael Landon: Memories with Laughter and Love (1991) See more »


Tom Dooley
Adapted by Dave Guard and L.G. Testoni
Performed by The Kingston Trio
See more »

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User Reviews

Not a great movie but still better than some are saying
30 June 2010 | by rooster_davisSee all my reviews

I'm surprised how many of the reviews here trash this movie...

Okay, first the bad stuff. Maybe there is some historical inaccuracy to the guns people were using in the movie for that era, and I'll say I agree that the 'Tom Dooley' song doesn't really fit with the plot other than the character's name and that he might be hanged. For all I know the army uniforms didn't have the right number of buttons. For a general entertainment film such as this, sometimes you have to grin and bear the small flubs to enjoy the rest of the film, and that's true here.

But now let's get to the good stuff and it's considerable. The story begins when Tom Dooley (Michael Landon) and Country Boy (Richard Rust) kill someone in the line of following their orders as soldiers. Unfortunately the war has ended but they weren't told - and nobody is going to cut them any slack. While they thought they were just doing their jobs, now they are called murderers and try desperately to get out of this mess alive.

This movie has a few things that really hooked me. First off, the main characters played by Landon and Rust were likable types you could care about what happens to. If you don't care about the characters, then what interest is the story? But here, that's no problem - you can't help wanting to see them come out okay. And they got into this mess by accident, through no fault of their own, and every other person they encounter calls them 'murderers' and says they will hang for their crime. Here, the 'bad' guys are really the good guys, and the 'good' townspeople and sheriff etc. are the bad ones. I found Rust's character of Country Boy to be better-played than Landon's Tom Dooley, but both were quite good.

Part of the story is that Landon and Rust might get away, but Landon insists on going back to get his girl so she can come with them. That complicates things tremendously and contributes to the final outcome.

This movie moves along at a good pace and stays interesting from the beginning to the end. It has engaging characters caught in a tough situation. No, you can't count on it for historical accuracy, and the occasional playing of the Tom Dooley song in the background is not the best idea, but really - it is much better of a movie than many I've seen which got good ratings. I usually prefer Westerns by far to Civil War movies, but this one I like.

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