The Tall T

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The Tall T
The Tall T 1957 Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Budd Boetticher
Produced by Harry Joe Brown
Screenplay by Burt Kennedy
Based on "The Captives"
1955 novelette in Argosy Magazine 
by Elmore Leonard
Music by Heinz Roemheld
Cinematography Charles Lawton, Jr.
Edited by Al Clark
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • April 1, 1957 (1957-04-01) (USA)
Running time
78 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Tall T is a 1957 American Western Technicolor film directed by Budd Boetticher and starring Randolph Scott, Richard Boone, and Maureen O'Sullivan. Adapted by Burt Kennedy from the short story "The Captives" by Elmore Leonard, the film is about an independent former ranch foreman who is kidnapped along with an heiress, who is being held for ransom by three ruthless outlaws.[1] In 2000, The Tall T was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."


Passing a stagecoach way station on his journey into town, Pat Brennan (Randolph Scott) agrees to return with some store bought candy for the friendly station manager's young son. At a ranch where he once worked, Brennan tries to buy a bull, but is talked into riding one. If he wins, he gets the bull. If he loses he has to give up his horse. Brennan loses, and is force to walk home, carrying his saddle.

He gets a welcomed rescue from stagecoach driver Rintoon (Arthur Hunnicutt), hired to transport the newlyweds Willard (John Hubbard) and Doretta Mims (Maureen O'Sullivan). Doretta is a plain woman, but the daughter of the richest man in the state. It tickles Brennan, who tells Rintoon this is the first time he's ever been on a honeymoon.

When they stop at the way station, they are mistaken for the regular stage by three outlaws, Chink (Henry Silva), Billy Jack (Skip Homeier), and their leader, Frank Usher (Richard Boone), who have already killed the station manager and his son. Rintoon goes for a shotgun, only to be killed by Chink.

Terrified of sharing the same fate, Willard suggests to the outlaws that ransoming his wife would be far more profitable than robbing the stage. Frank likes the idea. He makes one mistake, though—he takes a liking to Brennan. He later tells Brennan that, under different circumstances, they might have been friends.

Frank takes the woman and Brennan to a remote hideout while ordering Billy Jack to ride along with Willard and deliver a ransom note to Doretta's father, demanding $50,000. Willard returns, saying his father-in-law has agreed and is rounding up the money. Willard is told he is no longer needed and can leave. A coward, he does not even bother to say goodbye to his new wife, disgusting Frank. Willard then begins to ride off, but is shot down by Chink.

Brennan knows full well that he and Doretta will end up dead like the others once the ransom is paid. He tells the distraught widow to collect herself and be ready to take any opportunity that presents itself. He then takes her in his arms. She hesitates, then kisses him. She confesses she married Willard because she was getting older and did not want to be alone.

Billy Jack and Chink are left behind to guard the hostages while Frank goes off to collect the money. Brennan plants the thought that their ringleader might just ride off with all the money, so Chink leaves the camp to keep an eye on Frank. Brennan suggests to Billy Jack that he take advantage of Mrs. Willard , a lonely woman denied even her wedding night. Billy Jack does indeed try to force himself on Doretta, whereupon Brennan overpowers him and shoots him dead.

Chink hears the shots and turns back. Brennan kills him. Frank then returns with the money. Brennan sneaks up behind him, so Frank surrenders his revolver and the money, gambling that Brennan will not shoot him in the back. He slowly mounts his horse and rides off. However, he turns around and comes back and tries to kill Brennan with a rifle, forcing Brennan to shoot him dead. As Brennan and Doretta walk away, side by side, she reaches for Brennan's arm, as he places his arm around her.

Featured cast[edit]

DVD release[edit]

In 2008 a DVD box set of five Budd Boetticher films starring Randolph Scott was released. Along with The Tall T the set includes Buchanan Rides Alone, Decision at Sundown, Ride Lonesome, and Comanche Station.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Tall T". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved October 16, 2012. 

External links[edit]