Tin Star [1957]

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 (OscarĀ®-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

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