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 »
During opening sequences when Fonda is at the bar, the whiskey he is drinking changes from clear to dark. See more »
They're kiddin' you, Sparks.
I know sir. But maybe Mr. Smith's accidentally right. Maybe I ought to go along.
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 »
Before "12 Angry Men" there was "The Ox-Bow Incident," a bleaker and never less than fascinating exploration of the nature of mob violence. Unlike "12 Angry Men," this film has no clear-cut heroes. It takes place in a more primitive, wilder time and location, and the principal question at the crux of this movie's conflict is whether or not three suspected cattle thieves should be punished without due legal process. A small group is in favor of letting the frontier town sheriff handle the situation, while a much larger group smells only blood (and in some cases are motivated by personal vengeance) and convince themselves of the suspects' guilt without listening to any of the evidence. It's quite a frightening movie in its own way, and it has a stark look at odds with the average studio film being churned out at the time (1943). Henry Fonda is quite good, as usual, in the closest thing the movie has to a main character, but it seems pointless to single him out in what is obviously such an ensemble effort, and in a movie that only lasts a mere 75 minutes or so and has such a large cast, each actor manages to color his/her character with delightful details, sometimes with no more than a single line of dialogue or one reaction shot.
"The Ox-Bow Incident" is a fantastic film. I don't think it's well-remembered now, but I'm thrilled to see it on DVD and hope that it will be rediscovered.
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