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Anthony Mann's best post-James Stewart Western
on 23 August 2007
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.