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The Tin Star (Widescreen)

Henry Fonda , Anthony Perkins , Anthony Mann    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 54.97
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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


Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good but under-appreciated western. July 4 2004
Format:DVD
Henry Fonda was one of the greatest movie actors ever -- sometimes I think that he was THE greatest. Somehow Fonda managed to BE whomever he was playing, with no hint that he was acting, despite the wide variety of roles he played over his long career.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GOES AGAINST MANNs OWN FORMULA June 16 2004
Format:DVD
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tin Star June 6 2004
Format:DVD
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. Henry Fonda plays bounty hunter Morg Hickman, a man with a past. Hickman rides into town with a bounty trophy and, this being a fairly civilized town, is shunned by the citizens. Doesn't seem to bother him much, though. While waiting for his bounty money to come through he becomes involved with a local widder and her young 'un and helps set young and clumsy sheriff Ben Owens (Anthony Perkins) on the right track.
THE TIN STAR is a little light and domestic for Mann. A run-of-the-mill story with acceptable acting by all involved.
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5.0 out of 5 stars heavy hard star May 17 2004
Format:VHS Tape
You can make easily a tin star by cutting that feeble metal from, for example, a fruit can. To carry it is more difficult. From outside the USA it seems public workers aren't so valued as private entrepreneurs.
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars THIS STAR SHINES MORE LIKE GOLD THAN TIN! May 17 2004
By Nix Pix
Format:DVD
Henry Fonda's career was never the same after "The Tin Star." Shedding the every man good guy persona that had made him so likeable on screen for so long, on this occasion Fonda's pretty cold, aloof and forboding as a lawman turned bounty hunter. Director, Anthony Mann's in-depth character study of the old west is made even more compelling by a startling performance from Anthony Perkins, as the too gentle for gunsmoke sheriff, to whom Fonda undertakes a shaping-up of.
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!
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