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>
The Hays Office--the industry's censors--initially was reluctant to approve the script because of its suggestion that the sheriff condoned the lynchings. The treatment of the lynchings and the characterization of those participating were discussed by the PCA and the studio at great length, and in a June 9, 1942 letter, PCA director Joseph Breen advised studio public relations head Jason S. Joy that the script would be approved if: "Major Tetley's" suicide is retained, "thus constituting a punishment for the ring-leader of the lynching party;" there is an indication that the whole gang will be arrested; the character of "Gil" is rewritten to make him less callous and more active in trying to stop the lynchings; and "Davies'" denunciation of the killings is retained. See more »
Juan Martinez throws a knife that lands right next to Farnley's foot. If you look closely you can see a thin wire attached to the end of the knife, indicating that first the scene was filmed with the knife being jerked backwards by the wire, then the film was played in reverse, to give the desired illusion of the knife landing at Farnley's feet. See more »
[Carter and Croft are out with the posse]
Doin' this in the middle of the night's crazy.
Thought you liked excitement?
I got nothin' particular against hangin' a murderin' rustler; it's just I don't like doin' it in the dark. There's always some crazy fool who'll lose his head and start hangin' everybody in sight.
Funnier things have happened.
Well we didn't have to come.
Look kinda funny if we hadn't, wouldn't it?
See more »
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 »
"The Ox-Bow Incident" is a film that parallels the times we are living in many ways. Darryl Zanuck probably didn't even think much of this project that has proved to be a film admired by a lot of people that find in it, something that resonates with them.
William Wellman, the director, made an excellent film out of the adaptation by Lamar Trotti, of the Walter van Tilburg Clark's novel. The film, only 75 minutes long, packs a lot in a short period, something that other films, twice as long, fail to deliver. Arthur C. Miller's cinematography is an asset for the picture.
This film brought to mind another Henry Fonda film: "12 Angry Men", in which a more or less posse is trying to decide the fate of a young man accused of committing a heinous crime. In this film, we get a similar idea, in that the mob group that is formed will end up bringing the wrong kind of justice to the three unfortunate men that are deemed guilty and will be lynched; for all practical purposes these men would be proved innocent in a real court of justice.
Henry Fonda does an excellent job as Gil Carter. The biggest surprise though is the then unknown Dana Andrews, one of the men that is made to pay for a crime he didn't commit. Also, this is an early film in which Anthony Quinn appeared as one of the doomed men. The director got marvelous acting in general from the supporting cast, notably, Frank Conroy, William Eythe, Jane Darwell and Mary Beth Hughes.
This is a classic film to be treasured.
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