Well, it’s February 1 again, so let’s celebrate Clark Gable’s birthday with another one of his movies, this time the 1955 Western The Tall Men, also starring Jane Russell and Robert Ryan.
Coming into the Montana territory, brothers Ben Allison (Clark Gable) and Clint Allison (Cameron Mitchell) decide to rob Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan) of his bankroll and kidnap him to keep him from turning them in. However, once they get to a cabin where they plan to let him go (without his money), he makes them a job offer, where they could help him get a herd of cattle from Texas up to the Montana territory. They accept, and on their way to get the cattle, they run into a group of settlers stuck in a winter storm. They leave after the storm, but, upon seeing signs of Sioux Indians nearby, Ben goes back to help the settlers while Clint goes on with Nathan. When Ben gets there, the only surviving settler is Nella Turner (Jane Russell), and he helps her get away. Another storm forces them to stop in a cabin, where sparks start to fly until Ben reveals his dream of owning a ranch in Prairie Dog Creek, which differs from Nella’s dreams of a better life. When a band of soldiers come, they make their way to San Antonio, where they plan to go their separate ways. Ben helps recruit men to go on the cattle drive, and Nella runs into Nathan Stark, who ends up convincing her to go along on the cattle drive. Along the way, they have to face a militant band of Jayhawkers at the Kansas border, along with Sioux Indians on the warpath.
The Tall Men was based on a 1954 novel by Clay Fisher. Director Raoul Walsh would make good use of location shooting in Sun Valley, Idaho and the Sierra de Organos and Los Organes Valley near Durango, Mexico due at least partly to how much things had changed in both Texas and Montana in the time since the events of the story took place.
Going into this movie, my biggest reason for wanting to see it was Clark Gable, and it was well worth it (and not just because of him)! Clark does indeed give a great performance as Ben Allison, a real tough guy who takes care of his family and friends as best he can (while still being careful when dealing with those he doesn’t trust). Jane Russell is fun here, bringing some of her sass, especially as she sings “Tall Men” throughout the journey (usually within earshot of Gable’s Ben, with the lyrics changing to reflect how she feels about him at the time). The scenery is just absolutely beautiful here, and is a lot of the fun! I do admit, I enjoyed watching the cattle drive a lot, too, especially when it came down to the fight between the cattle drovers and the Sioux Indians! But, as far as Clark Gable is concerned, I think Robert Ryan’s final lines (which were about Ben Allison) are just so fitting about Clark: “There goes the only man I ever respected. He’s what every boy thinks he’s going to be when he grows up and wishes he had been when he’s an old man.” Definitely a very fun Western, and one I would highly recommend!
The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either www.screenarchives.com or www.twilighttimemovies.com. The new transfer for this Blu-ray is spectacular! The colors work very well, and the detail is definitely there, allowing us to see all the wonderful scenery from the location shooting! Easily the best way to see this movie! It is also available on DVD from 20th Century Fox (although presumably with an older transfer). The movie is two hours, two minutes in length.
My Rating: 9/10
List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections
It Happened One Night (1934) – Clark Gable
Underwater! (1955) – Jane Russell