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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.



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


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


LYNCH LAW RULES THE MOB! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Drama | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

21 May 1943 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Conciencias muertas  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Henry Fonda's commitment to this film was partly due to having witnessed as a boy the 1919 lynching of Will Brown in Omaha, Nebraska. 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 »


Jenny Grier: [when Juan finally speaks English after pretending he only knows Spanish] So, he speaks American!
Juan Martínez: And ten other languages, my dear - but I don't tell anything I don't want to in any of them.
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 »


Referenced in Good Dick (2008) See more »


Lonesome Valley
Traditional Negro Spiritual
Performed a cappella by Leigh Whipper
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Posse mentality
17 May 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"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.

58 of 81 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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