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The Tin Star: A Badge is What You Make of It,
This review is from: The Tin Star [VHS] (VHS Tape)
In THE TIN STAR director Anthony Mann creates a western variation of the Grizzled Old Vet Teaching the Raw Rookie. This kind of film has built within it a pre-existing allure for the audience who will want to know if the rookie can learn what his mentor has to teach before crunch time. Henry Fonda is the veteran who used to be a sheriff before he turned to bounty hunting. Anthony Perkins is the green as grass newly appointed sheriff of a small western town who wants only to be good enough to be considered a permanent choice. In strolls Fonda looking for a bounty and what begins as a confrontation between established law and mercenary law soon morphs into a buddy movie. Each sees in the other either what he could be or what he once was. For a gunfighter movie, there is surprisingly little gunfighting. Most of the time, the audience gets a crash course in the finer points of being a peace officer. By the film's midpoint, Perkins wants to know why the Fonda character made the switch from a sanctioned badge to a hired gun. Fonda, as bounty hunter, tells a riveting tale of how a sheriff whom he once knew well (himself) needed money and had to catch a wanted man for the bounty only to find that when he was paid the money it was too late for the reward to be of any use.
The charm of THE TIN STAR is that it shows a character-driven western, a type that was not used again until Clint Eastwood revived the genre in his pre-DIRTY HARRY days. Fonda and Perkins bounce off each other in all the right ways. In supporting roles, Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand, John McIntyre, and Betsy Palmer add their distinctive style to a beloved genre of the western. In the extended conversations between veteran and rookie, both learn that a badge has a value unconnected to its metallic composition. A true lawman will comport himself just as if the badge were pure gold. THE TIN STAR is a movie of pure gold.