The Tall Target is based on a true story: the attempted assassination of President-elect Abraham Lincoln, even before he was able to assume his duties in Washington. Dick Powell stars as New York detective John Kennedy, who learns of the assassination plot early on. When his superiors refuse to believe his wild tale, Kennedy quits the force and boards the Presidential train, hoping to prevent the killing on his own. The problem: who can he trust on board, and who can't be trusted? Ginny Beaufort (Paula Raymond), the sister of the would-be assassin, might be able to prevent the tragedy -- if she isn't in on the conspiracy, that is. The supporting cast includes Adolphe Menjou, Marshall Thompson, Will Geer, and, as a slave, a young Ruby Dee. The film's nail-biting climax is brilliantly handled by Anthony Mann, whose directorial expertise was becoming sharper with each successive film in the early 1950s.
by Hal Erickson synopsis