Anthony Mann made some of the greatest Westerns of the 1950s, all in partnership with James Stewart. Perhaps needing to prove himself as his own man, in 1957 Mann dropped out of Night Passage to do this film. It's a rath... more »er schematic character study about a lawman-turned-bounty-hunter (Henry Fonda) who undertakes the professional shaping-up of an effete young sheriff (Anthony Perkins) too tentative to police the streets of his town. Those streets are compositionally present right outside the oversize window of the office where Perkins undergoes a lot of his soul-searching and arguments with Fonda. That's typical of the film--scrupulously designed, yet abstract to the point of dramatic aridity. The VistaVision black-and-white of cameraman Loyal Griggs (Oscar®-winner for Shane) is at once stark and glossy. Fonda's own reclamation as a social being is accomplished by way of a not-very-interesting subplot involving Betsy Palmer and a half-breed child played by Michel Ray. --Richard T. Jameson« less
Martin Asiner | jersey city, nj United States | 12/06/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In THE TIN STAR director Anthony Mann creates a western variation of the Grizzled Old Vet Teaching the Raw Rookie. This kind of film has built within it a pre-existing allure for the audience who will want to know if the rookie can learn what his mentor has to teach before crunch time. Henry Fonda is the veteran who used to be a sheriff before he turned to bounty hunting. Anthony Perkins is the green as grass newly appointed sheriff of a small western town who wants only to be good enough to be considered a permanent choice. In strolls Fonda looking for a bounty and what begins as a confrontation between established law and mercenary law soon morphs into a buddy movie. Each sees in the other either what he could be or what he once was. For a gunfighter movie, there is surprisingly little gunfighting. Most of the time, the audience gets a crash course in the finer points of being a peace officer. By the film's midpoint, Perkins wants to know why the Fonda character made the switch from a sanctioned badge to a hired gun. Fonda, as bounty hunter, tells a riveting tale of how a sheriff whom he once knew well (himself) needed money and had to catch a wanted man for the bounty only to find that when he was paid the money it was too late for the reward to be of any use.The charm of THE TIN STAR is that it shows a character-driven western, a type that was not used again until Clint Eastwood revived the genre in his pre-DIRTY HARRY days. Fonda and Perkins bounce off each other in all the right ways. In supporting roles, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, John McIntyre, and Betsy Palmer add their distinctive style to a beloved genre of the western. In the extended conversations between veteran and rookie, both learn that a badge has a value unconnected to its metallic composition. A true lawman will comport himself just as if the badge were pure gold. THE TIN STAR is a movie of pure gold."
Another Great Anthony Mann Western
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 03/21/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Anthony Mann was known for the great hardbitten Westerns he made with frequent collaborator James Stewart, such as The Naked Spur, Winchester '73, The Man From Laramie, and others. But he did make one Western with Stewart's best friend and another Western movie stalwart, the great Henry Fonda.
Fonda comes into a small town with an outlaw dead over a saddle. He's a bounty hunter, formerly a lawman who has become cynical with life and justice, and prefers the pay and independence of bounty hunting to being a town marshal. The town has a young and very inexperienced sheriff, played by Anthony Perkins, who is struggling to hold the town together as a bigoted bully played by Neville Brand tries to force his way into the sheriff's office. Fonda takes a liking to Perkins, and tries to show him the tricks of the trade. When two half-breed brothers kill the town doctor, events spiral out of control.
The Tin Star is full of wonderful performances, from Fonda who sees in the idealistic Perkins the younger man he used to be and learns to love again thanks to Betsy Palmer, who plays a widow who has a half-breed son; to Perkins, who hits the right notes as someone who'll make a fine lawman if his dumb mistakes don't kill him first, and Brand as a menacing, hateful brute who runs over as many people as he can. John McIntire (another frequent Mann collaborator) is also great as the town doctor.
This is an all-time classic. Don't miss it."
GOES AGAINST MANNs OWN FORMULA
gobirds2 | New England | 06/16/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE TIN STAR seems to go against Anthony Mann's own formula, not so much for its plot, but in its casting of the principal actor Henry Fonda as the catalyst that motivates young sheriff Anthony Perkins (and the film) to live up to the demands of the position. Fonda's casting and presence as the hero seems to make the role static and less complex when compared to what James Stewart could have brought to the role (Stewart was Mann's usual choice for the leading man in his Westerns). Fonda's character is one of a bounty hunter / ex-sheriff who appears to have no moral ambiguities, thus the apprenticeship of Perkins under Fonda's moral stalwartness brings a very straightforward relationship to these main characters. Visually the film also seems to be limited to the town rather than on the wide unclosed vistas of the open range. This claustrophobic effect seems to repress elements of this otherwise interesting screenplay. However, these are only observed peculiarities to Anthony Mann's usual style. This is still a tightly scripted and enticing Western. The showdown between Perkins and Neville Brand is excellently played out. Elmer Bernstein's early Western score is very absorbing and insightful to the film's narrative. I particularly like Henry Fonda's role and his performance in this film. This is a good Western."
Lee J. Stamm | Kennewick, WA United States | 03/16/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ex-sheriff turned bounty hunter Henry Fonda teaches the lawman trade to rookie peace officer Anthony Perkins in an excellent, intelligent western. High marks go to both cast and direction. Fonda plays to perfection one of his trademark type of roles, the weary, reluctant hero. A fine film by any measure. Highly recommended."
As classic as you can get!
Roberto Frangie | Leon, Gto. Mexico | 11/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The contribution made by Henry Fonda to classic Westerns is incredible : he made his point early with "The Oxbow Incident," his potent presence in "Drums Along the Mohawk"... He was excellent as Wyatt Earp in "My Darling Clementine," even better as the stubborn, mistaken lieutenant-colonel in "Fort Apache " a legendary gunman in "Warlock" and the hardened gunfighter-tutor in Anthony Mann's "The Tin Star."
Fonda plays a solitary-bounty hunter ("I'm not the law. I work inside it for money!") who had once been a sheriff, and who had given up the badge in disgust of the shameful way he had been treated by the citizens in a decisive tragic moment of his life--for which he lost his wife and son...
Fonda is quiet, sure, polite, sincere and appealing... Teaching Michael Ray, it was clear that he knew not only his guns but human nature... He is human, kind, anxious, worry and tender with the young boy...
Anthony Perkins is attractive in his doubts about taking action or decision... He is naïve and innocent, also incompetent for the job of an officer responsible for law and order... He always looks to Fonda for leadership, but he is eager to be a firm sheriff...
The conversation between Fonda and Perkins are the heart of the movie, which deals more with character than Gunplay: "You got to keep cool and have absolute confidence. You lack confidence." "A decent man does not want to kill. But if you're gonna shoot, you shoot to kill." "Study men. A gun is only a tool. You can master a gun if you got the knack. Harder to learn man."
The film had racism: When Bogardus kills the Indian, in the back, outside the saloon, he says: "No sheriff will disarm a white man for shooting a mingy Indian.You, an Injun lover?"
Betsy Palmer plays Nona Mayfield, a woman compelled to live outside the town because she married an Indian: "I'm just so used to everybody hating Indians."
The film had also intuition and humor:
- Kip Mayfield to Fonda: "Don't I look like a sheriff?" And Fonda replying: "You look more like a sheriff than the sheriff does."
Abbe Pickett, after being a father for eleven girls and now to a boy, asks: "You sure it ain't another girl?" and the doc replies: "Well, I hope I'm not too old to know the difference."
John McIntire is fine as the old doc whose big dream was: "I wish you two to get together."
Neville Brand enjoys oppressing, intimidating and persecuting...
Anthony Mann's "The Tin Star" is strong on location work, tense, realistic, technically competent... The film had dusty action, and a picturesque old town with its bank, hotel, saloon, jail, hanging tree and all the cowardly citizens turned out to watch...
With elements of "Shane," and "High Noon," the film is a very good Western, 'as classic as you can get.'