The Tall Men (film)
|The Tall Men|
|Directed by||Raoul Walsh|
|Produced by||William A. Bacher
William B. Hawks
|Written by||Heck Allen (novel) (as Clay Fisher)
Sydney Boehm (screenplay)
Frank Nugent (screenplay)
|Music by||Victor Young|
|Edited by||Louis R. Loeffler|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$6 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
Brothers Ben (Clark Gable) and Clint Allison (Cameron Mitchell) are on their way to the goldfields of Montana after serving in the Confederate Army's Quantrill's Raiders. In need of money, they decide to rob wealthy businessman Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan) and take him to a hideout. Stark talks them into becoming partners with him on a cattle drive from Texas to Montana using Stark's money and the Allison's expertise. While on their way to buy the cattle, their pack horse loaded with supplies falls in an icy river. They come upon a party of starving settlers who give them shelter from a blizzard.
The next day the Allisons and Stark continue on their way but discover Sioux Indians are likely to attack the settlers. Ben heads back to help the settlers while Clint and Nathan head to San Antonio via an Army fort that sends out a rescue party of soldiers. All the settlers, except Nella Turner (Jane Russell), have been killed so Nella goes with Ben. They find a cabin and wait out the storm, where they begin to fall in love. They fall out of love when they realise that Nell, who had a hellish childhood on a farm has dreams of riches whilst Ben merely wants to have his own ranch. Once the storm subsides, some soldiers arrive and give them another horse. They head for San Antonio after Nella is informed due to the snows that the road to California is closed and the one to Texas is the only one open.
On arriving in San Antonio, Texas, they go their separate ways after having a falling-out. As Nella is checking in at the hotel, Stark comes down the stairs and is delighted to see her. Nella shows romantic interests in Stark, but she always flirts with Ben when she joins the cattle drive to Montana. Ben recruits a gang of loyal vaqueros for the rugged 1,500-mile trek. During the trek Ben and Nella harp at each other when the opportunity arises, giving Stark the impression that Ben and Nella dislike each other. Nella occasionally sings "The Tall Men" but varies the lyrics depending on her mood. When she sings, she always makes sure that Ben is listening.
Along the trail, the cattle drive is confronted by a gang of Jayhawkers demanding $5,000 for crossing the border. Ben refuses and a gunfight ensues. Many Jayhawkers are killed. The cattle drive continues. Clint is sent to scout the route but one day his horse returns riderless. Clint is found tied to a tree with about half a dozen Sioux arrows in him. For days, Ben scouts the movements of the Sioux then returns to present a strategy using the cattle and horses in a stampede against the Indians. After hours, a battle begins and only about 100 to 150 head of cattle are lost.
When they arrive in Mineral City, Montana, Stark is paid $170,000 for the herd. Ben goes to see Stark to get his portion and the bonus for the drovers. Stark says he is not happy and that he has been waiting for "this day" because Ben shoved a gun in his belly when they first met. Stark has some henchmen ready to hang Ben, but Ben has prepared his men in case something happens and Stark withdraws. Stark plans to marry Nella the next day, but, in the closing scene, she appears at Ben's wagon singing her song. Stark reflects to his henchmen that Ben is the only man he has ever respected; he is the type of man boys want to grow up to be and wish they once were when they're old men.
- Clark Gable as Colonel Ben Allison
- Jane Russell as Nella Turner
- Robert Ryan as Nathan Stark
- Cameron Mitchell as Clint Allison
- Juan García as Luis, Allison's head vaquero
- Harry Shannon as Sam, cattleman robbed by jayhawkers
- Emile Meyer as Chickasaw Charlie
- Steve Darrell as Colonel Norris, U.S. Cavalry (as Stevan Darrell)