Elmore Leonard and The Tall T (part 2)


LaBrava (1983) begins Elmore Leonard’s evermore excessive referencing of Hollywood movies and the use of narrative devices that depend on a merging of the real and the reel that had its greatest success with Get Shorty (1991). Here, a middle-aged retired Hollywood star who specialised in femme fatales replays one of her old movies . . . Robert Mitchum is endlessly referred to, but it is talk of Henry Silva who jogs another movie memory:

“I know Henry Silva was the bad guy,” LaBrava said. “I remember him because he was in a Western just about the same time and I saw it again in Independence. The Tall T, with Richard Boone and, what’s his name, Randolph Scott.”

'The Tall T' - by his bandana you will know the man


The Tall T (Budd Boetticher, 1957)

By his bandana a man will be judged …

Chink’s  and Billy Jack’s flamboyant bandanas are contrasted with Pat Brennan’s (Randolph Scott) more sedate affair, but all pale next to Frank Usher’s (Richard Boone) turquoise neckerchief.

Playing on the period’s usual Freudian overloading, Chink (Henry Silva) and Billy Jack (Skip Homeier) are perfectly drawn punk psychos – fully formed killers but barely formed humans.

Boone is wearing a corduroy Wrangler 11MJ style jacket - pure 1950s – Homeier wears Levi’s under his leather chaps …