The Tall Stranger (1957)

81-82 mins | Western | 17 November 1957

Director:

Thomas Carr

Producer:

Walter Mirisch

Cinematographer:

Wilfrid M. Cline

Editor:

William Austin

Production Designer:

David Milton

Production Company:

Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

This film's working titles were Walk Tall and The Rifle . The onscreen credits read "From a story by Louis L'Amour;" however, the short story "Showdown Trail," the basis for the film, was written under one of L'Amour's early pseudonyms, "Jim Mayo." The story was rewritten and republished as "The Tall Stranger" in 1957. The print viewed was missing approximately eleven minutes. A 17 May 1957 HR news item reported that Barry Kelley had replaced Ward Bond, who had to withdraw due to a conflicting commitment. Other May 1957 HR news items indicated that exteriors were being shot at the Triunfo Ranch in Ventura County, CA and at the Morrison Ranch near Agoura, ... More Less

This film's working titles were Walk Tall and The Rifle . The onscreen credits read "From a story by Louis L'Amour;" however, the short story "Showdown Trail," the basis for the film, was written under one of L'Amour's early pseudonyms, "Jim Mayo." The story was rewritten and republished as "The Tall Stranger" in 1957. The print viewed was missing approximately eleven minutes. A 17 May 1957 HR news item reported that Barry Kelley had replaced Ward Bond, who had to withdraw due to a conflicting commitment. Other May 1957 HR news items indicated that exteriors were being shot at the Triunfo Ranch in Ventura County, CA and at the Morrison Ranch near Agoura, CA. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
2 Nov 1957.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jun 1957.
---
Daily Variety
25 Oct 1957
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Nov 1957
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1957
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
14 May 1957
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 May 1957
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 May 1957
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Oct 1957
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Jan 1958
p. 689.
Variety
6 Nov 1957
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Chief elec
Key grip
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const supv
Props
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Rec eng
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Set cont
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "Showdown Trail" by Jim Mayo in Giant Western (Winter, 1948).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Walk Tall
The Rifle
Release Date:
17 November 1957
Production Date:
began early May 1957
Copyright Claimant:
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 October 1957
Copyright Number:
LP9118
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Sound System
Color
De Luxe
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
81-82
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18641
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1865 while riding through Colorado, former Union soldier Ned Bannon is bushwhacked by the leader of a gang of cattle rustlers and left for dead. When he regains consciousness, Ned discovers that he is in the care of an attractive widow, Ellen, and her young son Will, members of a wagon train heading for California. Ned becomes suspicious of the train’s guides, Mort Harper and his partner Purcell, when he realizes that they are leading the train on a dead-end route that ends at Bishop’s Valley, which is owned by Ned’s half-brother, Hardy Bishop, with whom Ned hopes to reconcile. Hardy and Ned became estranged after Hardy accused Ned of causing his son Billy’s death during the recently concluded Civil War. Meanwhile, Hardy has been alerted that the wagon train is approaching, led by a man in a Union soldier’s uniform, and assumes that he is Ned. Hardy has been unable to forgive Ned for being involved in the capture of his son, who was with Quantrill’s Raiders and was subsequently executed. After the wagon train sets up camp in one of Hardy’s outlying meadows, Ned becomes even more concerned because he knows that Hardy is likely to kill anyone attempting to cross his land. As Ellen and Ned get to know each other, she tells him that after her husband was killed in the war, she decided to start a new life in the West. Ned’s suspicions are confirmed when Harper tries to convince the settlers not to proceed, but remain where they are and build homes, arguing that the land is government territory open to homesteaders. Ned then tries to warn the members of the wagon ... +


In 1865 while riding through Colorado, former Union soldier Ned Bannon is bushwhacked by the leader of a gang of cattle rustlers and left for dead. When he regains consciousness, Ned discovers that he is in the care of an attractive widow, Ellen, and her young son Will, members of a wagon train heading for California. Ned becomes suspicious of the train’s guides, Mort Harper and his partner Purcell, when he realizes that they are leading the train on a dead-end route that ends at Bishop’s Valley, which is owned by Ned’s half-brother, Hardy Bishop, with whom Ned hopes to reconcile. Hardy and Ned became estranged after Hardy accused Ned of causing his son Billy’s death during the recently concluded Civil War. Meanwhile, Hardy has been alerted that the wagon train is approaching, led by a man in a Union soldier’s uniform, and assumes that he is Ned. Hardy has been unable to forgive Ned for being involved in the capture of his son, who was with Quantrill’s Raiders and was subsequently executed. After the wagon train sets up camp in one of Hardy’s outlying meadows, Ned becomes even more concerned because he knows that Hardy is likely to kill anyone attempting to cross his land. As Ellen and Ned get to know each other, she tells him that after her husband was killed in the war, she decided to start a new life in the West. Ned’s suspicions are confirmed when Harper tries to convince the settlers not to proceed, but remain where they are and build homes, arguing that the land is government territory open to homesteaders. Ned then tries to warn the members of the wagon train that they may all be killed, but is ordered to leave at gunpoint by Purcell. Ned rides on to Hardy’s ranch to attempt to persuade him not to harm the settlers and, after beating Hardy in a fistfight, forces him to listen to his explanation about Billy. Hardy’s foreman, Stark, is sympathetic to Ned and tells Hardy that Billy was a reprobate and that Ned acted correctly. The next day, Hardy tells Ned that he is willing to forget their dispute over Billy, but states that he plans to drive off the wagon train. Ned persuades Hardy to give him a few days to find out what Harper is up to and heads back to the camp. Meanwhile, Zarata, the Mexican, renegade rustler who shot Ned, meets with Harper who agrees to give Zarata and his gang cattle in exchange for their help in taking over Hardy’s land. After Ned rides to the camp with three of Hardy’s men, he asks the homesteaders to leave peacefully and offers them provisions and help to reach the Humboldt trail to California, warning them that, unless they leave peacefully, Hardy will send twenty of his men to evict them. Harper claims that Ned is lying and provokes Red, one of Hardy's men, into a gunfight during which Red accidentally kills the wife of one of the settlers. Ned and the others leave but that night, Ned returns to take Ellen and Will back to the safety of the ranch. When Ned tells Hardy that he is willing to stand with the settlers, Hardy gives him more time to try to peacefully resolve the situation. Later, Ellen tells Ned about her disreputable past as a dance hall girl, and after admitting that she was never married to Will's father, states that she wants her son to have a promising future. In an attack on the ranch house, Harper, Zarata, Purcell and some of the settlers kill several of Hardy’s men. Although Hardy is mortally wounded by Zarata, he manages to strangle Zarata to death. Taking Ellen and Will hostage, Harper forces Ned to drop his gun and orders him to bring him a horse. Sensing that Harper may be out of bullets, Ned bluffs him and, recovering his own firearm, shoots him. Later, Ned checks with the new leaders of the settlers, Cap and Adam Judson, who apologize for not heeding his advice and tell him that they are moving on to California. Ned then invites them all to remain in the valley, as he has inherited the land. After Ned learns that Ellen and Will have already started north in their wagon, he rides out after them.
+

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.