The Legend of Tom Dooley (1959)


The Legend of Tom Dooley (1959)

Tom Dooley and Country Boy are on the run after killing an enemy soldier not knowing the war is over. The Command refuses to give them some slack for making this tragic but honest mistake and sends a lawman after them.
IMDb   6.2 /10
TheMovieDb    7.0 /10
Director Ted Post
Writer Stanley Shpetner
Release Date1959-07-14
Runtime1h 19mins
GenreDrama, Western
Content Rating
CompanyColumbia Pictures
Laura Foster
Charlie Grayson
Country Boy
Sheriff Joe Dobbs
Cheerio Meredith
Cheerio Meredith
Gary Hunley
Gary Hunley
The Kid
Anthony Jochim
Anthony Jochim
Confederate Soldier

The Legend of Tom Dooley

The Legend of Tom Dooley is a 1959 Western film directed by Ted Post. It stars Michael Landon, Jack Hogan, and Jo Morrow. It was based on the 90-year-old folk song "Tom Dooley", which had been inspired by the real-life case of convicted murderer Tom Dula. The ballad, as sung by the Kingston Trio, was a big hit in 1958 and is the theme song of the film. The movie's plot is consistent with the lyrics of the song, but otherwise bears little resemblance to the actual murder case.


At the end of the American Civil War, Confederate soldier Tom Dooley (Landon) leads an attack on a stagecoach, unaware that the war was already over. Dooley is declared to be a murderer, but he returns to his hometown, hoping to marry his fiancée, Laura Foster (Morrow).

Trouble soon breaks out, and Laura and he are forced to elope, pursued by lawman Charlie Grayson (Hogan), who also has romantic interest in Laura. Tom and Laura get married and attempt to escape to Tennessee, but are soon captured by Grayson. Dooley is locked up in the town jail after a quick trial, in which he is sentenced to be hanged in the morning, but escapes with the help of one of his Confederate Army friends, "Country Boy".

Grayson catches Laura as she tries to reunite with Dooley. Grayson tries to force himself on Laura, but is interrupted by the arrival of Dooley and Country Boy. In the ensuing fight, Laura is accidentally stabbed while Dooley and Grayson struggle with a knife, and then Grayson and Country Boy shoot each other. Laura dies in Dooley's arms as the sheriff arrives and recaptures Dooley, who is then led off to his execution.


  • Michael Landon as Tom Dooley
  • Jo Morrow as Laura Foster
  • Jack Hogan as Charlie Grayson
  • Richard Rust as Country Boy
  • Dee Pollock as Abel
  • Ken Lynch as Father
  • Howard Wright as Sheriff Joe Dobbs
  • Ralph Moody as Doc Henry
  • Cheerio Meredith as Meg
  • Jeff Morris as Confederate Soldier
  • Gary Hunley as The Kid