The Legend of Tom Dooley 1959

Now this is one I remember seeing years ago – probably at the local Pavilion Cinema – now no longer there alas !

The background to this film is that at the time there was a very popular song with the same title as the film, that did so well on both sides of the Altlantic. The American version which was a hit in the UK was performed by The Kingston Trio who were in the charts in England as well, although it was covered here and a hit for Lonnie Donegan.

Above – The Kingston Trio with the song that is heard throughout the film. Very good too. You can listen to the song again on this link :-

Because of the hit song one assumes, a B movie was rushed out very quickly – and must have done well.   Michael Landon starred as Tom Dooley before his success on TV first with Bonanza.

The story begins when Tom Dooley (Michael Landon) and (Richard Rust) kill someone in the line of following their orders as soldiers not knowing that the Civil War is over.  They thought they were just doing their jobs, but are now now branded  murderers and try desperately to get away.


The main characters played by Landon and Rust were likeable types who the audience can sympathise with for the predicament they are in.
Part of the story is that Landon and Rust might get away, but Landon insists on going back to get his girl so she can come with them. This leads  to the film’s inevitable final outcome.

This film moves along at a good pace and stays interesting throughout the 79 minutes.  It has engaging characters caught in an impossible situation.

We can all think of a great many songs associated with films of an era – but this was a feature film rushed out to capitalise on a very popular song with a storyline. Very much of it’s time though.

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