Through the history of film there have been a few classic pairings of director and actor that have produced some out and out great films - Anthony Mann/James Stewart, John Huston/Humphrey Bogart, John Ford/John Wayne for example. I would humbly add Bud Boetticher/Randolph Scott to that list.
The Tall T (an odd title that seems to have nothing to do with the film!) is the second of seven films the pair would make together that formed the bulk of Scott's work in the last six years of his career. Along with the magnificent Ride The High Country they form a body of work that equalled, if not surpassed anything Scott's career to date and provided a magnificent high note for him to finish up on.
It's a classic little adventure. It's brisk, coming in at about 78 minutes, but in that short time the film makers manage to pack in a lot of punch. Scott plays Brennan, a man on his own just trying to make his way in the world. He gets caught up along with two newly weds in a mail robbery gone wrong, and when the bad guy decides to hold the bride to ransom things get a little tense as he knows he and the newly weds have just until the ransom is paid to live. He must use all his wiles to get them out alive.
Scott plays the archetypal hero, all honour and decency. The characterisation is essential to the thrilling finale, which comes around because of his sense of honour. Richard Boone is the head villain, and not as black as villains of the time are usually painted. A man of intelligence and charm, and his own set of principles, he understands Brennan, and in other circumstances you feel they may have been friends. You know the finale is inevitable, but you have sympathy for his character and you almost don't want it to happen.
It's a tight story, tightly directed and delivers action, character development and some great one liners. 5 stars.