You may need to be careful about which version of tar is
running on the remote host, and which version is running locally.
If they're different (e.g. remote host uses a native solaris
version, localhost uses gnu version, or whatever), this might
cause the sort of problem you observed.
Apart from that, does the local host get most of the content
that you were hoping for? Can you isolate the particular
file(s) that didn't get unpacked locally? (If, God forbid,
one of the machines involved is using Microsoft text-mode
semantics on the data transfer, that is bound to kill it