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The Tin Star (Widescreen)
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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 rather 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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In The Tin Star Fonda is superb as an embittered ex-sheriff turned bounty hunter who scoffs at naive but dedicated Anthony Perkins, the newly-appointed sheriff in a town to which Fonda has come to collect the reward for an outlaw he has killed. While waiting in town for his reward money to arrive, Fonda reluctantly mentors Perkins in the art of being an effective sheriff and staying alive while doing it. There is a subplot involving Fonda's developing relationship with a widow (played by Betsy Palmer) and her half-Indian son. Although there is action in The Tin Star, the movie is primarily about the relationships among the principal characters and how they change each other. This is a very good western -- indeed a very good movie -- in every respect. But Fonda's role makes it outstanding. Please don't pass up this under-appreciated classic now that it's available on DVD.
But not all people serve to do business privately, and some have to choose public work. One of these tasks is being sheriff in old west. In this movie the figure of the sheriff as a public server is well seen: a man not very capable as I suppose were almost all, elected between the people of a small village, honest but without real skills to impose the law against dangerous bandits: So then, that famous tin star should weigh terribly. In contrast there is the gunman: he's very able with firearms but in this film shooting exhibitions pass to a secondary plane. The personage played by Henry Fonda basically knows his profession in full and furthermore, it remains in a slight dark the feeling that he doesn't value life too much, nor those of his preys nor his own, as he's a bitter, lonely, disillusioned man of and uncertain age with not much to lose. That quality, paradoxically, gives him an advantage in all fights owing to a quiet, indifferent mood the sheriff can't attain as he wants to live and hates troubles. The sheriff must risk against his will; the gunman afford these risks without much worry and all these isn't only a matter of mastery with the revolver. The two protagonists are very well chosen, contrasting the sober Fonda with the disquiet Perkins, but in the film at the end, the two men have changed.
THE TRANSFER: The VistaVision black-and-white picture elements are in reasonably good shape. Contrast and black levels are nicely balanced. Age related artifacts are present but do not distract. Digital anomalies are also present, but again, do not distract. The audio is mono but nicely balanced.
EXTRAS: Not on this disc!
BOTTOM LINE: "The Tin Star" is an above average western from a time when westerns were a dime a dozen. It's thoughtful and thought-provoking and well worth a second look on DVD!
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Anthony Mann's THE TIN STAR was a little disappointing. Mann was an early expert in 'psychological' westerns and I guess this one fits that category. Read morePublished on June 5 2004 by Steven Hellerstedt
When you think of westerns you usually think of movies that have cowboys and indians fighting with the good side winning in the end. Read morePublished on April 15 2000
Ex-sheriff turned bounty hunter Henry Fonda teaches the lawman trade to rookie peace officer Anthony Perkins in an excellent, intelligent western. Read morePublished on March 15 2000 by Lee J. Stamm
I think this movie is one of the best Western Movies I have ever seen. Anthony Perkins was very great in his role and Henery Fonda played one heck of a hero! Read morePublished on Dec 23 1998
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