Author Topic: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)  (Read 1626 times)

Offline Antares

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The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
« on: May 07, 2010, 01:08:15 AM »
The Ox-Bow Incident

Year: 1943
Film Studio: Twentieth Century Fox
Genre: Western, Classic
Length: 75 Min.

William A. Wellman (1896)

Lamar Trotti (1900)...Writer
Walter Van Tilburg Clark (1909)...Original Material By

Lamar Trotti (1900)

Arthur C. Miller (1895)

Cyril J. Mockridge (1896)...Composer

Henry Fonda (1905) as Gil Carter
Dana Andrews (1909) as Donald Martin
Mary Beth Hughes (1919) as Rose Mapen / Rose Swanson
Anthony Quinn (1915) as Juan Martínez / Francisco Morez
William Eythe (1918) as Gerald Tetley
Harry Morgan (1915) as Art Croft
Jane Darwell (1879) as Jenny Grier
Matt Briggs (1883) as Judge Daniel Tyler

       William Wellman’s style of directing could never be described as self-indulgent or excessive in substance. His ‘no holds-barred’ approach to filmmaking created movies that were taut in pacing and rich in character development. And although he was a ‘studio’ director, his versatility in all fields of storytelling would lead him to create some of the finest films, dating back to the silent era and progressing through the forties. Wings, So Big!, Nothing Sacred, and The Public Enemy are all considered classics of their respective genres. But it’s his tale of an angry and vengeful posse that lynches three innocent men in The Ox-Bow Incident that is my favorite. Yet wartime audiences weren't ready for the dark, cynical message that was at the heart of this film, and the results were a poor box office. Although it disappeared rather quickly, repeated broadcasts on the new medium of television a decade later turned this western into a classic.

       No quick draws, no stampedes and no bar room brawls, just a great screenplay with a plot that places the viewer as a witness to the dangers of vigilante justice and mob rule. A rancher in a sleepy, dusty town is allegedly murdered by rustlers who have made their getaway into the wilds with his cattle. Neighbors and friends, who are incensed with the crime, whip themselves into frenzied fury and form a posse to hunt down the outlaws. With all rationality set aside by the anger in their hearts and minds, they set forth out into the wilderness to dole out a little ‘frontier justice’.

       They are lead by an ex-Confederate officer named Major Tetley (Frank Conroy), resentful at the South’s defeat and whose mind is mired in the myth of the ‘Lost Cause’. This delusional demagogue will keep the mob’s hatred stoked and will insure that justice will be served in its most fanatical form. The lone voice of reason is a mild mannered man named Davies (Henry Davenport) who repeatedly tries to get the crowd to act with rationality and bring the men into town for a trial before a judge. Also along for the hunt are two drifter cowboys named Gil (Henry Fonda) and Art (Harry Morgan), who have no real stake in the matter, but will try to sway the posse to follow Mr. Davies direction.

       After a long ride, they come upon a camp with three men and a herd of cattle, which after checking the brand, belong to the murdered man. On a cold night atop a rock escarpment called the Ox-Bow, Tetley will institute a sham trial to placate the few in the group who are uncomfortable with the lynching. As the three men plead for their lives and beg to be taken back to prove their innocence, the mob drowns out the few dissenters amongst them, and the men are hanged. My favorite scene in the film is when Gil is reading the letter that one of the lynched men has written to his wife, explaining what is about to happen to him.
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If you see one western in your lifetime, then see this one.

Review Criterion
5 Stars - The pinnacle of film perfection and excellence.
4 ½ Stars - Not quite an immortal film, yet a masterpiece in its own right.
4 Stars - Historically important film, considered a classic.
3 ½ Stars - An entertaining film that’s fun or engaging to watch.
3 Stars – A good film that’s worth a Netflix venture.
2 ½ Stars - Borderline viewable.
2 Stars – A bad film that may have a moment of interest.
1 ½ Stars – Insipid, trite and sophomoric, and that's its good points.
1 Star – A film so vacuous, it will suck 2 hours from the remainder of your life.
½ Star - A gangrenous and festering pustule in the chronicles of celluloid.
« Last Edit: November 04, 2010, 06:21:44 PM by Antares »


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Re: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2010, 02:02:15 AM »
I own all 41 films from the Fox Studio Classics line and I'd have to say that this one is my absolute favorite from the entire series.  I've been meaning to re-watch it for years now.  Hope to get to it soon. :laugh:

I'd say this is a great movie even if you don't like westerns.  The only "western" thing about this movie is the setting.  It could have been adapted to another genre very, very easily.

Offline Antares

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Re: The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2010, 02:55:54 AM »
The only "western" thing about this movie is the setting.  It could have been adapted to another genre very, very easily.