A surprisingly neglected film, The Tall Target is not a perfect film, but it's an exceptionally interesting one. Part of its interest lies in the fact that it's, to a degree, a period film noir - and one with an historical basis, to boot. It doesn't quite meet all of the noir requirements, especially in terms of level of nihilism and/or fatalism, but there's enough there to give a special feel to Target. And the historical aspect of it is quite fascinating, adding an extra layer of interest. Target has a few clumsy moments in its screenplay, but Anthony Mann's taut, precise direction is so good that one lets them slide by without comment. Indeed, Mann really seems to revel in this assignment, especially once the set-up is out of the way and he can concentrate on the main action. He's aided by a first rate performance from Dick Powell, a great turn from Paula Raymond, and very solid contributions from Ruby Dee, Florence Bates and Adolphe Menjou. Target is a treat for thriller fans looking for something off the beaten path, with a climax that is especially gripping.
by Craig Butler review