It's not THAT awful. There were a few points of interest here.
Yeah the protagonist is virtually un-flawed, and he's played woodenly by Jeff Young. But Dan Duryea livens up the proceedings, as a slimy, womanizing, snake-oil salesman of an ex-con ranch foreman.
One of the supporting roles, that of the doctor who is forced to surgically disable the hero's gun hand, is given to a black actor, in a choice that was unusual for the time. The only character that even seems to notice he's black is the hero, and clearly it's supposed to further illustrate what a good guy he is, that he's unprejudiced. Yeah whatever.
Two, count 'em two quasi-rape scenes leave a nasty taste in the mouth. There's very little artistry to either, just ugliness. The Good Girl survives hers unscathed, the Bad Girl's ends with her death. The scene where Duryea hands her over to hostile Indians and stands by without doing a thing for her is chilling; if there was any doubt that his character was going to die by the end of the picture, it goes out the window here. You KNOW he's gonna pay for being that callous.
The climactic shootout scene is filmed at night, in and around a saloon with the lights blown out. This is the most visually interesting part of the film, with complex compositions of light and shadow. Nicely done in a noir-ish way.
Reviewed by bkoganbing6 / 10
The swaggering villainy of Dan Duryea
If it wasn't for the stiffness of lead Tony Young this film would rate really high in Hollywood B western history. As it is He Rides Tall gives us a memorable performance by Dan Duryea, a real masterpiece of swaggering villainy reminiscent of his Waco Johnny Dean from Winchester 73.
He Rides Tall combines elements of High Noon and The Man From Laramie in its plot. Marshal Tony Young encounters Dan Duryea a guy he put away several years earlier out from prison and now foreman of R.G. Armstrong's spread. He and Armstrong's punk son are bringing the cattle to market in town, but the son played by Carl Reindel starts trouble and Young is forced to kill him.
That's when Duryea makes his move with Armstrong's young and scheming wife Jo Morrow. He also captures Young and leaves him with a crippled gun hand, the better to have him fall victim to any gunslinger who wants to try him, he thinks.
I can't say more because what happens afterward is really too good to spoil. You will absolutely love the desserts Jo Morrow gets.
The other female part in He Rides Tall is Madelyn Rhue playing the Kitty Russell type saloon owner and fiancé of Marshal Young. He's supposed to be getting married to her, but all this business postpones the wedding. Unlike Grace Kelly in High Noon, Rhue has no Quaker scruples about violence when she aids her man in getting rid of one of Duryea's henchmen.
There's also an unusual part for Joel Fluellen as a doctor. Not too many black actors back then were cast as professional men. He's R.G. Armstrong's physician and he has an important function in this film.
I'm agreeing with the comment made by one viewer in that this could have been a film meant for Audie Murphy. Too bad he didn't do it.
Reviewed by Angel_Peter4 / 10
There are some good points and some bad points
I guess this is not the most awful movie I have seen but very far from the best. There were parts I did enjoy and some where I was sitting do they really mean that?
The protagonist was borderline suicidal or just plain stupid. In the start of the movie the marshal/protagonist throws someone out from the saloon for wearing a gun in the saloon. The guy goes for his gun and the marshal have to shoot it away from him. Then he lets him go without throwing him a night in jail. Simply to good to survive.
Dan Duryea played well but even here there were some points where it got too far. Actually the Doctor was the only one of the major characters that made sense and he played well too.
So would I recommend this movie? Not really as the few action scenes were not really interesting and the story very thin. But if it on a channel near you and nothing better to do then it will not hurt you to watch it. But you can find many better westerns out there.