Tall in the Saddle
Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Western / Drama / Romance
John Wayne as Rocklin
Ella Raines as Arleta 'Arly' Harolday
Ward Bond as Judge Robert Garvey
George 'Gabby' Hayes as Dave
Audrey Long as Clara Cardell
Elisabeth Risdon as Miss Elizabeth Martin
Don Douglas as Harolday
Paul Fix as Bob Clews
Russell Wade as Clint Harolday
Emory Parnell as Sheriff Jackson
Raymond Hatton as Zeke
Harry Woods as George Clews
Tall in the Saddle trailer
Rancher Red Cardell has asked the woman-hating Rocklin to be his new foreman via message, and Rocklin rides on a stage piloted by the lovable Dave to Santa Inez, leaving the interior of the coach for two ladies, Clara Cardell and her Aunt Elizabeth Martin. The destinies of these people are closely intertwined although none are aware of this at the start. Since sending for Rocklin, Red has been murdered by being shot in the back. Clara is the rightful heiress to Red’s ranch and her Aunt is escorting her to see that she gets it. Once the stage arrives in Santa Inez, Rocklin discovers that his employer has been killed. During a crooked poker game Rocklin exposes Clint Harolday as a cheat, earning the wrath of Clint’s sister, Arly, who confronts Rocklin, taking several shots at him. Rocklin just keeps walking, impressing Arly with his rock solid demeanor. Rocklin visits Garvey, Cardell’s attorney and finds that Clara is laying claim to the ranch. Rocklin turns to Clara and her aunt and offers to work if the job is still available, but he is rebuffed by Clara’s aunt. Rocklin then returns the $150 advance he received for the job. Clara tells Rocklin to keep the money, just as Arly offers Rocklin a job working at her stepfather’s ranch, the Topaz. Rocklin speaks with Harolday, who tells Rocklin that he believes that Red was killed by rustlers and tells him to go keep watch at a remote line camp. After Rocklin departs to his duty, Clara asks Tala, a ranch hand for the Topaz ranch, to give Rocklin a letter. Tala in turn gives the letter to Dave to deliver and tells Arly about the communication between Carla and Rocklin. In the letter, Clara has returned Rocklin’s $150 advance and asks for his advice. Clara believes that Garvey is trying to convince her Aunt to turn Red’s ranch over to him and go back east. Rocklin returns to town to ask Dave about the relationship between Red and Garvey, and Dave confides that Red found a deck of marked cards in Garvey’s office and was going to report him when he was shot. At that moment a shot comes through the window, narrowly missing the two friends. They rush outside to investigate and discover a distinctive pouch that was dropped by the would-be assassin. Rocklin then returns to his cabin on the Topaz ranch to discover a jealous Arly searching for Clara’s letter. He confronts her and she orders him to get off her ranch. Before he leaves, however, he kisses her, for which she throws a knife at him as he leaves the cabin. Rocklin then rides to Harolday’s office in town to show him the pouch and tell him about the shooting. Harolday admits to having seen the pouch before but doesn’t reveal where. After Rocklin leaves his office, Harolday tells Clint that he should get out of town. Rocklin returns to his hotel, where he finds Clara who needs his help. Clara’s aunt is at Garvey’s office and about to sign an affidavit stating that Clara is a minor and too young to take control over the ranch, placing it under her Aunt’s control. Clara knows that Garvey has a letter that proves she is of age and asks Rocklin to recover it. Rocklin goes to Garvey’s office to demand the letter but arrives just after Garvey has burnt it and is drafting the affidavit. Rocklin begins searching Garvey’s office and finds the decks of marked cards that Dave told him about. He accuses Garvey of killing Red and leaves to turn him in. On his way back to his hotel Rocklin tells Dave to find Clint and bring him to Rocklin’s hotel. When Rocklin gets back to his room he finds Arly talking to Clara. Arly tries to make Clara jealous by telling her of the kiss they shared last night at the cabin. Rocklin counters by promising Clara that they will go to Garden City the next day to report Garvey. The two women leave and Dave arrives with Clint. As Rocklin is interrogating Clint, an assailant reaches in the window, grabs Rocklin’s gun from his holster on a chair, and shoots at Rocklin. Clint pushes Rocklin out of the way however, and takes the round that was meant for Rocklin. Hearing the gunfire, several townspeople rush to the hotel room, and see Clint dead from Rocklin’s gun. Garvey arrives as well and accuses Rocklin of killing Clint. Before the townspeople can react, Rocklin escapes out the window. Garvin begins to organize a posse to bring Rocklin in, and Tala confides in Arly that he saw Harolday climb the outside stairs to Rocklin’s room and fire. Rocklin takes refuge in Dave’s wagon and they drive to Clara’s ranch just in time to overhear Clara’s Aunt tell Clara that she is going to sign the ranch over to Garvey. Clara’s aunt discovers Rocklin and orders her ranch hands to apprehend Rocklin, and take him to Garvey in town. Clara faints as Rocklin and Dave are captured and thrown into Dave’s wagon. Riding to town, the henchmen are stopped by Arly and Tala, who rescue Rocklin and Dave. Arly tries to talk Rocklin into leaving immediately, but he goes back to the ranch to rescue Clara. Dave and Rocklin sneak around to the back of the house while the posse led by Garvey arrives at the front. Rocklin watches as Clara’s aunt takes Garvey into another room and tells him that Rocklin knows about their plans. Rocklin enters and confronts the two about their plot, when Harolday, who has been hiding outside another window, attempts to shoot Rocklin. Arly saves Rocklin by throwing a knife at Harolday, wounding and capturing him. Arly enters and tells Rocklin that Tala saw Harolday shoot Clint in Rocklin’s room. Harolday tries to run, and Rocklin is about to shoot him, when Arly stops him so that Tala can have his revenge on Harolday for killing Clint. Garvey then admits to Rocklin that he was in cahoots with Harolday to take control of the ranches and sell them to farmers at increased prices. Clara announces she is heading back east and Rocklin and Arly embrace and kiss.
Long time Wayne co-star Paul Fix co-wrote the script for Tall in the Saddle with Michael Hogan.
George ‘Gabby’ Hayes is instantly recognizable as Hopalong Cassidy’s curmudgeonly sidekick throughout most of the Hopalong series.
Ward Bond starred with John Wayne in several pictures, including The Searchers, Rio Bravo, The Quiet Man and Hondo. It is not surprising that Wayne and Bond starred in so many movies together as they were good friends from playing football together at the University of Southern California.
This was the first of a six picture deal that John Wayne had with RKO pictures.
This is the first film that John Wayne worked on with producer Robert Fellows. Later Robert Fellows and John Wayne would form the BatJack production company.
The film is based on a serialized novel published in the Saturday Evening Post by Gorden Ray Young.