TALL MAN RIDING (director: Lesley Selander; screenwriter: novel by Norman A. Fox/Joseph Hoffman; cinematographer: Wilfrid M. Cline; editor: Irene Morra; music: Paul Sawtell; cast: Randolph Scott (Larry Madden), Dorothy Malone (Corinna Ordway), Peggie Castle (Reva), Bill Ching (Rex Willard), John Baragrey (Cibo Pearlo), Robert Barratt (Tucker Ordway), John Dehner (Ames Luddington), Paul Richards (The Peso Kid), Lane Chandler (Hap Sutton), Mickey Simpson (Deputy Jeff Barclay); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: David Weisbart; Warner Bros.; 1955)
“Most everything about it is unremarkable.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Veteran B-Western director Lesley Selander (“Arizona Bushwhackers”/”Town Tamer”) does his usually good job despite the slight material and dismal script. The action sequences, the stunning vistas and Randolph Scott’s stiff upper lip heroic performance, keeps this routine oater watchable. Otherwise, it’s a ridiculous revenge B-Western, where the plot line is too absurd to take seriously and most everything about it is unremarkable. Writer Joseph Hoffman bases it on a novel by Norman A. Fox.
In 1892, ex-rancher Larry Madden (Randolph Scott) returns after five years to his hometown of Little River, Montana, bent on revenge against the Warbonnet land baron Tucker Ordway (Robert Barratt). He’s the fastest draw in town and he caused Larry to lose his property and even humiliated him with a public whipping as punishment for courting his daughter Corinna (Dorothy Malone) in secret without marrying her.
Larry returns amidst a land war between settlers and ranchers, and saves the life of Rex Willard (Bill Ching) who was ambushed by settlers on the dusty trail. He does this not knowing Rex is an easterner who a few years ago married Corinna. In the battle, Larry kills one of the thugs.
In the town’s saloon, Ames Luddington (John Dehner), the slick lawyer hired by Larry to get some dirt on Tucker, informs him that Tucker does not legally own his ranch because he didn’t file a proper claim and the land will now become public domain.
Though the obsessed Larry came back to kill Tucker, he refuses to partner with the oily crooked saloon owner Cibo Pearlo (John Baragrey), who has his eyes on Tucker’s property and to also eliminate him. Now Pearlo also becomes Larry’s enemy.
Pearlo’s saloon singer girlfriend Reva (Peggie Castle) has a heart of gold and is secretly friends with Corinna. She tries to be friends to Pearlo, Larry and Corinna, but that doesn’t work and gets plugged by her sleazy boyfriend’s hired gun–the Peso Kid (Paul Richards) when he catches her aiding the other two.
When Corinna’s hubby is framed for murdering the settler who ambushed him and then gunned down by the crooked deputy and the Peso Kid, events change rapidly as Larry learns about Tucker’s secret and goes after the Peso Kid.
By the end, everything gets straightened out and Larry and Corinna rekindle their romance and are about to get hitched. Corinna never even shed a tear for Rex, even though she tells us he was a gentleman and an honorable man and seemed to want us to believe she loved him in her own way.
REVIEWED ON 1/27/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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