The Tin Star (1957)

Genres - Drama, Western  |   Sub-Genres - Traditional Western  |   Release Date - Oct 23, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 90 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Michael Costello

Based on a script written by the aging Dudley Nichols toward the end of his distinguished career, Tin Star has the feel of a man trying to impart a simple lesson before he dies. Director Anthony Mann obviously decided to relegate his formidable talent for capturing rugged Western landscapes to the back burner in a film that was shot mostly on sound stages. Possibly reflecting the cynicism wrought in Hollywood by the blacklist, Fonda's embittered bounty hunter tries to explain to a young sheriff, the reliably neurotic Tony Perkins, how an intuitive understanding of the people he's living among can be more valuable than a fast gun. The film's anti-vigilante sub-theme, a feature of a number of Fonda's movies, also echoes the excesses of the McCarthy era. While it sometimes feels like an inflated version of the kind of TV Western that ruled the airwaves during that time, the film's ambling pace allows for more fully developed characters, and the credibility of the relationship between Fonda and Perkins is enough to carry its familiar homilies.