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The Tin Star is a 1957 American western film based on a short story, directed in VistaVision by Anthony Mann and starring Henry Fonda and Anthony Perkins, in one of Perkins' first roles. The film became one of the few low-budget westerns to be nominated for the Oscar for Best Writing, Story or Screenplay. Since its release, the film has become one of the classics of the genre.

The Tin Star
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAnthony Mann
Produced byWilliam Perlberg
George Seaton
Written byJoel Kane
Dudley Nichols
Barney Slater
StarringHenry Fonda
Anthony Perkins
Music byElmer Bernstein
CinematographyLoyal Griggs
Edited byAlma Macrorie
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • October 23, 1957 (1957-10-23)
Running time
93 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.4 million (US rentals)[1]


Bounty hunter Morgan Hickman (Henry Fonda) arrives in a small town with the body of an outlaw, seeking the bounty. While the general townsfolk openly abhor Hickman, young sheriff Ben Owens (Anthony Perkins) admires the man for taking everything in his stride and knowing how to handle dangerous situations.

Hickman tells Owens that he was once a sheriff himself, but Dr McCord doubts this. Nevertheless, Owens persuades Hickman to teach him the ways of a lawman, forcing Hickman to face his past and his lost virtues.

Hickman lives on the edge of the town with Nona Mayfield, herself an outcast due to her half-breed son, Kip, who is half Indian. Treatment of Indians acts as a sub-plot including scenes such as the gunning down of an Indian by a white man, under the philosophy of nobody cares.

Things come to a head when Dr McCord is returning home during the night having delivered a baby son to a remote homesteader. He is waylaid by Ed McGaffey (Lee Van Cleef) asking him to treat a gun wound on his brother. This he does, but then McGaffey decides to kill him as he knows too much, despite the pleas of his now recovering brother.

Dr. McCord's horse and trap re-enter the town on McCord Day: where the whole town has come out to celebrate the doctor's 75th birthday. To a resounding chorus of "For He's A Jolly Good Fellow" the town realize he is dead. A posse is then assembled to catch McGaffey. However, the posse split from Sheriff Owens because they see him as too soft. Young Kip rides out after the posse and Hickman and Owens team up to track him down.

In finding Kip they accidentally stumble upon McGaffey and his brother hiding in a mountain cave. After a gunfight in which Owens receives a bullet graze on the forehead they successfully capture the brothers and lock them in the town jail. However the posse is baying for blood and want to lynch the pair. The posse gets drunk in the town bar, to find the courage to do the deed, urged on by the ringleader, Bogardus. Owens stands against the crowd with a shotgun to defend the brothers for a legal trial. Bogardus (who earlier shot the Indian) has a standoff with Sheriff Owens. Owens approaches Bogardus alone, with the mob separating for a gunfight. The newly deputized Hickman holds the shotgun near the jail. Bogardus hesitates as Owens approaches. He appears to back down after Owens slaps him, but turns around and draws after going a few steps. Owens guns him down. At this point the lynch mob disperses.

Hickman then happily leaves town (with Nona and Kip Mayfield).


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30

External linksEdit