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The Tall Stranger

1957 | 16:9 WIDESCREEN | COLOR | Quality: Excellent

Virginia Mayo

Joel McCrea



While on his way to see his estranged brother at the end of the civil war, Ned Bannon (Joel McCrea) is shot for no apparent reason by a mysterious man with a fancy gun, and is left for dead. He is instead rescued and revived by settlers bound for California, including the beautiful Ellen (Virginia Mayo) who Bannon develops a liking for. The settlers are planning to pass through land owned by Ned's brother Hardy (Barry Kelley). Ned warns them that his brother will attack them and that there is no trail beyond anyway, but the settlers' leader Harper (George Neiss) dismisses his warnings. Even more mysteriously, Harper encourages the settlers not to proceed to California but to build their homes on Hardy's land. It it as though Harper wants a war between Hardy and the settlers, but why? Bannon must get to the bottom of this while also trying to solve the mystery of who shot him, on top of trying to act as a buffer between his estranged family and the interloping settlers.

The Tall Stranger is directed by Thomas Carr and written for the screen by Christopher Knopf from a story by Louis L'Amour. It stars Joel McCrea, Virginia Mayo, Michael Ansara, George Neise, Whit Bissell, Adam Kennedy, Barry Kelley and Leo Gordon. A CinemaScope/De Luxe color production, film is filmed on location at two ranches in California, Morrison and Russell, with Wilfred M. Cline the cinematographer. Hans J. Salter scores the music. The supporting cast is interesting because three actors who usually played villains in the 1950s, play likable characters in "The Tall Stranger". That most forceful actor, Leo Gordon, for once plays an out-and-out good guy: Hardy's loyal and sensible right hand man. Whit Bissell who normally played worms and weasels here plays a friendly and obliging settler - and does it well. Ray Teal who often played sly characters with dishonourable ulterior motives, plays an amiable and slightly simple settler. Only Michael Ansara, a regular villain in '50's movies, remains true to form - his Zarata not only murders people, he tries rape as well. A very good B Western that will please genre lovers!

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