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4.4 out of 5 stars32
4.4 out of 5 stars
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The Tin Star is full of Anthony Mann's typical plays on perspective and symmetry, the cinematic possibilities of which few other directors have ever really grasped - not merely visual but emotional and thematic as well (the opening shot is repeated in reverse as the closing shot, but with an entirely different meaning). Although it's set mostly in the town limits as Henry Fonda's embittered bounty hunter finds himself reluctantly passing on tips to the temporary sheriff (Anthony Perkins, still a nice, awkward young guy here before a lifetime of psychopathic typecasting), his great use of location to define and place characters is omnipresent: check out the great sheriff's office with its huge window overlooking the town which puts both men at the heart of the town while effectively keeping them outside it. Indeed, the film is all about outsiders either trying to belong or trying to dominate, throwing in a surprising subplot about racism that allies its misfits and broken angels.

Fonda makes a superb replacement for Stewart (the director and his favored star fell out on Night Passage), Neville Brand's tough bad `un, who wants Perkins' badge for a hunting license, makes a worthy adversary and the final showdown is brilliantly staged, and Elmer Bernstein's score is a definite plus (and a world away from the south of the border energy of his post-Magnificent Seven genre efforts). Mann's last great Western, it deserves to be better known.

Sadly, no extras - not even a trailer.
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on 25 April 2008
i must admit i put this film in the dvd player and my heart sank because its black/white,it does not tell you that in the information about the film.but when you start watching the film it soon puts you back in a good mood,henry fonda has that touch of class about him thats hard to resist,anthony mann directs another classic western he was probabley the best in the business and that includes the great john ford.
fonda plays a bounty hunter who brings his prey in to collect the bounty,the young sheriff has just started the job and fonda can see that unless he is guided he will soon be dead,fonda shows the sheriff the ropes but declines an offer of a badge.its not long before trouble arrives for the sheriff ,will fonda help the sheriff or ride out and condemn him you will have to see the film to find out ,i can assure you this film is good very good indeed even in black/white.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 January 2013
1957 was a good year for movies and amongst all the strong contenders, The Tin Star still managed to get Oscar nominated for best original screenplay, by the same screenwriter that brought that real trail-blazing classic, Stagecoach, to life.

Anthony Mann's black & white Western isn't a long, sprawling John Ford epic, nor does it feature Ford's often comical characters but at a fairly concise 92 mins it feels like a real book - a story that's never hurried and which includes proper characterisation and dialogue. Those wanting John Wayne spitting into the dust and cowboys and Indians need look elsewhere...

I've always liked Henry Fonda - and whilst many have pointed out that Mann's main man had previously been James Stewart, Fonda takes that slim thoughtfulness that Stewart eschewed and added dignity as well as grit - maybe somewhere between a Wayne and Stewart mix. You can never take your eyes off Henry Fonda - tall, dark and brooding if there ever was one. Anthony Perkins is (of course) very different to Norman Bates in Pyscho and for those of us who saw him in that long before this earlier work, will not be disappointed. Fonda plays the older, wiser but now turned to bounty hunter ex lawman, who helps out rookie sheriff Perkins, both strategically but morally, too, when an outlaw gang terrorise the town.

The near-silent ending is as tense as you'll find anywhere within any Western - and you will be both too - silent AND tense...

Radio Times gives Tin Star a rare five stars - and you won't see this undervalued and under-known western on TV very often. It does get onto Sky Movies Classics once in a while but I don't recall it ever being on terrestrial TV, at least recently, so the DVD does make good sense. If you like the western genre and not yet seen The Tin Star, you really should...
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on 24 October 2010
I watched this the other night with my girlfriend, normally as soon as I put on a western, she goes off and does something else, but this film engrossed her with its character development and strong storyline, the story moves at an engaging pace and keeps you interested until the end.
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on 24 November 2010
This is another thoughtful and enjoyable work from an indisputable master of the western genre, Anthony Mann. While it sits quite comfortably with his other great westerns it is notably less violent and gentler in pace than usual. Along side the action issues of racism, nationhood and belonging are dealt with in an impressively frank and intelligent manner {for 1957}. Fonda, as always, is brilliantly believable as the jaded former law-man turned bounty hunter. Anthony Perkins, while less convincing as a wannabe tough sheriff, still manages to be reasonably likeable in an early role. Shot in stunning black and white and remastered in 5.1 Dolby Digital 'Tin Star' is a treat for all true movie fans.
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on 10 June 2014
Here we have Henry Fonda handing over the reins to the new generation of actors represented by Anthony Perkins. Perkins comes across as an adolescent teenager given the job of a sheriff. Fonda's role is to be mentor Perkins into a man, and he gets the opportunity to prove himself a man by the end of the film. Although the act was a mature one, I was not convinced that his character matured into a man.

Lee Van Cleef plays a villain.
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on 6 April 2013
I'm arriving late to these reviews, so I'm aware how highly the film is already rated in these columns. I see the film has a wide appeal, but I just can't go along. In cinematic terms, the film's strong point is the opening 25" where the antagonism is set up between the bounty hunter and the townspeople, and we see a vulnerable young sheriff living on borrowed time. This gets fine cinematic treatment. But the remainder of the film constantly comes across as a story that doubtless was a great read, but was never given THE CINEMATIC IMAGINATION THAT CAN CONVERT IT TO THE DIFFERENT REALM OF THE SILVER SCREEN. I could never throw off the feeling that I'm watching something still trapped in the pages of a book and I'm getting a non-cinema paraphrase. I learned from the other reviewers here that it won a prize for scriptwriting, but I suspect this was a recognition of literary merit by judges who read it as a literary piece separate from the film. One notices that the film won no awards in cinematic terms. This bookishness crucially compromised the film for me and I can't help thinking a greater insistence on cinematic/dramatic elements would've lifted the film beyond the 3* rating I give it here.
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on 7 September 2009
Filmed in gritty black and white, we have a western town in the mid eighteen-eighties, judging by the weapons, and by the opposing Civil War uniforms of the town band; but the huge plate glass windows indicate a town of the 1940's or later. Add to this confusion a Mayor who speaks of a quiet, law-abiding town, and idle citizens who swagger about in Hollywood Designer Costumes and Hollywood Designer gun-belts, some carrying twin revolvers, some with tied down guns, and you could be forgiven for laughing.

However the plot overrides imbecile sets and costumes. Henry Fonda, Betsy Palmer, and Anthony Perkins portray strong and credible characters. Indeed, every character in this movie is credible, even in the minor roles, and every sub-plot adds to the story. The screenplay was nominated for an Oscar, and should have won that. The photography is masterly.

Given a decent production i would have rated this as a five star movie. The lazy production lowers this considerably. One for your collection, but far from the best.
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on 3 December 2012
Henry comes into town and hangs around for his reward showing Anthony Perkins how to be a man by walking tall, but slightly stooped, and moving at his own stately pace. Generally predictable, but visually interesting and well-composed film with slightly more than stock characters. Not as interesting as the James Stewart/Mann westerns as nothing much deters him from the path of righteousness despite his reluctance to don the star. Good performances from Neville Brand and Lee van Cleef and his brother outsider Peter Baldwin (poignant both of them - trapped by their 'breed' upbringing, so dealing fatalistically with racism). Thoughtful and well-staged. Betsy Palmer tries hard and succeeds not to be OTT too as love-interest who has half-native American son and also lives 'on the outside of town'.
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on 11 June 2014
Henry Fonda at his best. For some strange reason there are very few actors that could play a handgunner like Fonda could.
He really brings some extra to the table when playing such roles, and this film is also well played by Anthony Perkins.
This is a must have, for all western fans.
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