The Tin Star (1957)


A bounty hunter (Henry Fonda) teaches a young inexperienced Sheriff (Anthony Perkins) a thing or two about how to handle a gun and keep law and order in a town. Things get complicated when the much-loved town Doctor is murdered and a trigger-happy mob attempt to apprehend the killers……


A “nice” film with an interesting story of a rookie Sheriff attempting to maintain law and order in a small town.

Great lead actors in the genial Henry Fonda and the neurotic Anthony Perkins; you can see here the sowings of the career-defining performance Perkins would give in 1960’s “Psycho”.  John McIntire as the good doctor is a welcome addition and a  joy to watch. Watch out also for Lee Van Cleef as Ed McGaffey, one of the killers. Horror fans will of course recognise Betsy Palmer (famous for playing Jason’s mother in “Friday the 13th” (1980)) as the lady who takes bounty-hunter Fonda in and becomes his love-interest (although the audience see nothing of this).

This picture concentrates on relationships, bigotry and the motives for what men do. There is a lot of dialogue compared to other westerns of a similar era with large elements of the script dedicated to discussions about morality between Fonda and Perkins as well as Palmer. Such dialogue seems a bit excessive and isn’t alleviated by any smoking guns or saloon brawls.  Somehow however, “The Tin Star” does not come across as deep and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

The film honesty lacks the number of set-piece action sequences which are required to set the viewer’s pulse racing – and this leaves a hole in the second half of the movie.  Without Fonda and Perkins, this would probably score below 5/10 but I just love watching these actors.

Overall, a sentimental western which is a little too gentle for me and quite frankly, I struggle to see why this film is regarded as a classic of the genre.

hotdog rating: 6.5/10


About hotdogcinema

film fan

Posted on November 25, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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