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The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 21 May 1943 (USA)
When a posse catches up three men suspected of killing a local farmer, some of them become strongly divided on whether or not to lynch the men.

Director:

Writers:

(written for the screen by), (from the novel by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Art Croft (as Henry Morgan)
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Judge Daniel Tyler
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Arthur Davies
Frank Conroy ...
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Jeff Farnley
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Monty Smith
Victor Kilian ...
Darby
Chris-Pin Martin ...
Poncho
...
Sheriff Risley
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Storyline

Two drifters are passing through a Western town, when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople, joined by the drifters, form a posse to catch the perpetrators. They find three men in possession of the cattle, and are determined to see justice done on the spot. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

SHOCKING! AS THE LASH OF A WHIP ACROSS YOUR FACE! (original print ad-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

21 May 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Conciencias muertas  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although made in 1941, this sat on the shelf for two years as 20th Century-Fox had no idea how to market a film with such inflammatory politics. See more »

Goofs

During opening sequences when Fonda is at the bar, the whiskey he is drinking changes from clear to dark. See more »

Quotes

Gil Carter: Say, what is there to do in this town anyway?
Darby: Well, unless you want to get in line and woo Drew's daughter...
Art Croft: We don't.
Darby: The only other unmarried woman I know is 82, blind and a Payute. That leaves you five choices: eat, sleep, drink, play poker or fight. Or you can shoot some pool. I got a new table in the back room.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits an ad for U.S. war savings bonds is shown on the screen. It says that "15,000 movie theatres are now selling U.S. war savings stamps and bonds! Buy yours in this theatre." See more »

Connections

Referenced in Fonda on Fonda (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Red River Valley
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played at the beginning and end of the film as well as at the camp site prior to the hanging
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
SPOILER AHEAD...Grim, sobering and well-acted story of vigilante justice...
7 May 2005 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

THE OX-BOW INCIDENT was never considered a success at the time of release, especially by studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck who never considered a film a success of any kind if it lost at the box-office. However, over the years it has become an artistic success with fans who appreciate good movie-making when they see it.

The performances are all first rate--particularly HENRY FONDA as the not too bright drifter who opposes the lynching mob, Harry Morgan as his rather slow witted sidekick, Frank Conroy as the General with the weakling son (William Eythe), and most importantly, DANA ANDREWS, who has the most riveting role in the whole film and makes the most of it. His is the outstanding contribution, sensitive and gripping. The story is based on a true incident that happened in Montana in the late 1880s--and, of course, one that could have happened anywhere in the old West.

It's easy to see why it was not a commercial success. Except for Fonda, there are no other major stars in the cast for marquee value. Neither Dana Andrews nor Anthony Quinn had yet achieved star status. The story is grim and downright sobering, dwelling, as it does, on man's inhumanity to man. The Paul Hurst character, who makes various mocking gestures with his hangman's knot, adds to the grim gloominess of all the proceedings. Hurst (who played the Yankee deserter in GWTW) was almost always cast as a villainous lug.

The night scenes involving the hanging seem to take place on a studio soundstage but somehow it doesn't matter. Nothing distracts from the taut realism of the drama once we know that the lynching is definitely going to be carried out. Afterwards, the knowledge that the man they allegedly hanged is not dead, comes as a twist that drives home the senselessness of what their mob mentality has done.

Mary Beth Hughes has a decorative role as the only feminine interest in the film--except for an uncredited bit by Margaret Hamilton and an unusually grim and unsympathetic role for Jane Darwell.

Well worth watching, a message picture that delivers without being preachy. My only complaint is that the letter Fonda reads at the end could have been simpler and less eloquent for the sake of realism and in keeping with the naturalness of Dana Andrew's performance. Complementing Andrew's work is a nice, sympathetic performance by character actor Harry Davenport as the man who tries hard to prevent the hanging.

Otherwise, everything is right on the mark. Well worth watching.


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