The Tall Target (A. Mann, 1951)

The Tall Target (Anthony Mann, 1951)

This film takes viewers down a different Anthony Mann path. Probably most famous for his westerns, this is a sort of ‘whodunit’ mystery. A police officer by the name of John Kennedy has made it his personal mission to protect President Elect, Abe Lincoln from what he believes will be an assassination attempt. My favorite aspect of this film is that it takes place almost entirely on a train. The sights and sounds of the train and it runs down the track, as the whistle blows, and as the smoke burrows in and out of the picture all do a great job of creating a setting. The infamous shot from The Assassination of Jesse James of Jesse walking through the smoke is even nabbed from this film. Dick Powell also does a great job playing Kennedy, portraying an obssessed and frantic man.

The film does fall apart after the assassin is revealed. I found myself questioning some of the previous scenes and their logic. That is probably my only real issue with the film, though it really does bring this down a notch or two. Luckily, the mood, sets, cinematography, and first-half intrigue are enough to make up for that flaw.  7.75/10


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