Saturday, 8 December 2012

Tall Man Riding

The Western of the Week is Tall Man Riding made  1955 when Scott was 57  although he  continued to make films for another seven years as a younger sharp shooting bare knuckle fighting trail and ranch hand. The story has echoes in  the  Big Country and Giant, the TV series Dallas where powerful cattle men attempt not just to control  their  areas and who may or may not share some of the land but also who their daughter may and may not marry.

In this saga Scott was badly bullwhipped by the father of the girl he is courting when riding for the owner who had heard rumours that the couple have become lovers and who does not accept the man as good enough for the daughter. Scott goes off for several years in order to earn the money to pay for a lawyer to help him to gain revenge. This is achieved by finding out that the rancher did not properly stake his original claim and the lawyer obtains a Presidential decree dispossessing the owner and arrange for his  land to be part of a land grab in the rest of the valley in an open competitive race  organised by an agent of the Secretary of Sate and controlled by the Army.

Meanwhile the girl has married a nice man to give her father a son to take over the estate( the boy doe not appear in the film) and father son in law appears to have been willing to fit in with the father in law’s situation, Dallas style. In addition the local saloon owner of Pearls Palace wears smart suits and use a heavy Cologne as well as running Saloon girl and songstress Reva  (Peggy Castle). She is a surprising riding friend of the Scott’s former girl friend played by Dorothy Malone  and who shares the background about Scott.

Scott comes to the rescue of the husband who is being attacked in effect on behalf of his father in law who has not been seen off the ranch for several years, the reason, unknown to the town is that he has become almost blind. The husband had been defending the rights of the new settlers who had flocked into the town for the new land grab (arranged before the dispossession order is announced) and where the saloon owner hopes to extend his control of the town by taking control of all the best new sections of land and where he has the deputy, the judge etc all in his pocket and the only threat to his potential complete power is the  ranch owner and his son in law, He employs the sharp shooter, the Peso Kid to  lead his dirty dealings.

When the husband is framed for a murder he did not commit his wife  begs Scott to intervene which he reluctantly agrees before being bushwhacked by the Kid and another of the Saloon owners men to prevent him giving evidence at the Inquest. Scott is saved by the intervention of Reva who is out riding but he is in no fit state to ride on and by the time he recovers the inquest is over and her husband is beings sent under escort with the deputy Sheriff to the County Jail. Scott sees the Kid leaving town shortly after this and follows in pursuit but not quick enough for the Deputy and the Kid to stop the stage, kill the driver and the husband and  then blame the killings on Scott.

He has meanwhile confronted the Ranch owner and had a shoot out in a back room without windows to even the odds.  Fortunately he  only wings the rancher and is shocked to learn the man  is blind and begins to feel guilty about his stance especially when the man and daughter are required to leave the ranch and take lodgings in town before the land grab race.

When Reva learns that her man is going to use the Kid to kill the rancher when he makes a bid to regain his land as well as use his men to stop the others and Scott she attempts to reach him with a note via a third party. Her man already suspicious when  three of the bullets from her  side riffle were found to be fired the same day that she thwarted  the bush whacking of Scott he beats her up severely.

Scott has a shoot out with the Peso Kid and then beats up the deputy until he admits to the townspeople that it  was the Kid who killed the husband and he also is made  to tell the truth to the rancher and his daughter, The saloon owner is not the only one double dealing on race day as Scott has punched and sacked the lawyer for posting the news of the land grab and the dispossession before Scott is ready, The lawyer then throws his lot with the Saloon owner and goes early be a quiet route to take possession of the ranch for the saloon owner by avoiding the military. When Scott sees one of the Saloon owners men knock the daughter of her horse he goes to her rescue and then stakes out the ranch in the name  her father in an attempt to undo the damage. He kills the lawyer and then the saloon owner in shoot outs and the father regrets his decision to horse whip Scott and offers him the job of running the property. The daughter also says yes and  everyone is happy with the town rid of the baddies. This  is therefore a classic B movie Western where the only problem is the incongruity of Scott playing a much young man, although in opera such incongruities are forgiven and  he plays his roles well. I saw many such  films on Saturday morning movies session at teh local Odeon in Wallington.

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