Texas brothers Gable and Mitchell, who had ridden with Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War, head North to Montana in search of gold. Desperate for cash, the men waylay Ryan, a wealthy businessman transporting $20,000. The fast-thinking Ryan turns the robbery to his advantage,
however, by offering Gable and Mitchell a chance to be his partners in what is to be an arduous and fateful cattle drive from Texas to Montana.
Shot in CinemaScope and color by cinematographer Leo Tover, THE TALL MEN is a beautiful film to look at and also boasts a good script, solid performances, and typically fine direction from veteran director Walsh. Though the action is supposed to take place in Texas and Montana, Walsh learned that
there were not enough longhorn cattle in the area to make a decent herd for the film. The cast and crew were sent to Durango, Mexico, where large herds of longhorn roamed the countryside. Walsh was assisted by a man named Carlos, the governor's son-in-law. Carlos spoke English, was a fan of
American movies, and had good connections with the local cattle ranchers. According to Walsh's autobiography, after one week of shooting, a pistol-packing representative of the beef-growers' association, Diaz, showed up on the set and demanded more money for the cattle. The governor's son-in-law
reminded the man that they had signed a contract which stated a specific price for the cattle. According to Walsh, when this did not faze the cattleman, "my self-appointed protector jumped in his car and raised more dust between us and the town. When he came back, he was driving a truck with 10
soldiers in it. That was the end of the holdup. The soldiers prodded Diaz into the truck after taking his gun away. `You can roll your cameras now,' Carlos grinned, `but I would advise you to get out of town the day you finish the picture.'"
The rest of the shooting proceeded smoothly, though director Walsh and his cast enjoyed playing tricks and teasing each other. Walsh roomed with Gable, Ryan roomed with Mitchell, and Russell had a house to herself. One night the director borrowed a tame skunk that had been "deodorized" by two
young Mexican boys and tossed it into Gable's bedroom. When Gable spotted the creature, he yelled for help, and Walsh calmly advised the actor to slowly get out of bed and whistle to the skunk because skunks are afraid of whistling. So Gable stood in the corner whistling "Ol' Man River" and "If I
Loved You," while Walsh came over and picked up the little beast. The next day Gable told the entire company how brave Walsh was for removing the animal. Somehow, Walsh managed to keep a straight face through the entire affair.
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- Review: Texas brothers Gable and Mitchell, who had ridden with Quantrill's Raiders during the Civil War, head North to Montana in search of gold. Desperate for cash, the men waylay Ryan, a wealthy businessman transporting $20,000. The fast-thinking Ryan turns the… (more)