THE TALL TARGET (1951)

Dir. Anthony Mann

Drawing on an historical footnote—a plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln before he could take the oath of office in 1861—director Anthony Mann concocted this intriguing “history noir.” Originally, detective Allan Pinkerton had uncovered The Baltimore Plot and convinced the future president to change his travel plans to avoid the conspirators. For the film version, however, Mann makes the hero a real-life New York City detective (Dick Powell) with the surprisingly prophetic name of John Kennedy. Adding to the picture’s film noir credentials is the casting of Powell, who had helped solidify the genre's popularity with Murder, My Sweet (1944). There’s even a contrasting female pair with a twist, with Southern belle Paula Raymond as femme fatale and slave Ruby Dee as the Madonna figure. Dismissed by critics at the time as a preposterous invention, the film has acquired a strong following more recently with the renewal of interest in Mann’s career and in film noir.

In attendance: Donald Bogle.

THE TALL TARGET
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