by Jack Nilan            EMail :

The Tall Men (1955)

Jack   B-

IMDB    6.7

Tribe(s) : Sioux

Language : English



   Set in 1866, it starts out with two brothers who are ex-Quantrill raiders, Ben and Clint Allison (Clark Gable and Cameron Mitchell) holding up a wealthy businessman, Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan). Starks talks the brothers in to joining him in a venture to bring cattle to Montana from Texas.

They soon come on some Indian signs. They were from the Sioux, "the throat cutters". Ben shoots six Sioux who are attacking a wagon. Ben saves Nella Turner (Jane Russell) from the attack. Jane sings "The Peach Tree" song. Ben soon falls for Nella but she has bigger dreams and decides to go off on her own. Nella soon hooks up with Starks who has a lot of money.

Nella later sings "I Want a Tall Man", as Ben, Starks and Nella go on the cattle drive. After fighting off some Jayhawkers who wanted to charge money for crossing. The cavalry warns that Chief Red Cloud and half the Sioux nation is waiting, so the Bozeman Trail is closed.

We then hear the music that means Indians are around (called American Indian War Chant at sporting events for teams like Cleveland Indians and FSU football - DUM-dum-dum-dum-DUM-dum-dum-dum), but the drive goes on. The music is then played at least five more times as the Indian threat grows stronger. Clint Allison is found dead, killed by Indians. Ben says there are more Sioux out there than flees on a dog. The cattle is driven through and the attacking Sioux are shot down. The Sioux flee as the cattle is driven towards them.

Really good example of a movie that only interested in Native Americans as a plot device to help drive the narrative. Our protagonists run into a series of hardships on their cattle drive, and the Indians were just one of them. The movie had no interest other interest in examining the Indians, except as a threat. Similar to a much better movie, Stagecoach (1939), the Indians were just here to be shot down.

Really just a showcase for the stars, particularly Clark and Jane, but the movie was pretty mediocre overall.