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Good Day for a Hanging (1959)

Approved  |   |  Western  |  January 1959 (USA)
6.3
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 422 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 5 critic

After claiming his daughter's childhood-sweetheart killed the marshal, one man finds himself in conflict with his daughter, his fiancée and many of the townsfolk.

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(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: Good Day for a Hanging (1959)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Marshal Ben Cutler
Margaret Hayes ...
Ruth Granger (as Maggie Hayes)
...
Eddie Campbell
Joan Blackman ...
Laurie Cutler
...
Paul Ridgely
Wendell Holmes ...
Tallant Joslin
Edmon Ryan ...
William P. Selby, Attorney
Stacy Harris ...
Coley
Kathryn Card ...
Molly Cain
Emile Meyer ...
Marshal Hiram Cain
...
George Fletcher
Russell Thorson ...
Harry Landers
...
Deputy Ed Moore
...
Deputy William Avery
...
Olson
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Storyline

It's been more than twenty years since Ben Cutler (Fred MacMurray) wore a badge, but when the town's bank gets robbed, he joins the posse. After the chase, where he saw Marshal Cain (Emile Meyer) get killed, he can't say "no" when the town asks him to take over the Marshal's duties. However, that same town starts to turn against him when he takes his new duties seriously by arresting and testifying against the killer... a boy, Eddie 'The Kid' Campbell (Robert Vaughn), who grew up in this town and comes from a broken home, garnering the sympathy of the townsfolk, who'd rather believe one of the other escaped bank robbers shot the sheriff. This is compounded by his daughter, who still has a crush on Eddie, even though after his mother died two years ago, he left town with not a word to her since. She, too, is convinced that Eddie is still that good little boy everyone remembers, and can't believe he's been changed, by his new life of riding with outlaws. Written by AzRanger {ArizonaRanger @ Hotmail . com}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Even when he kissed her... he held a gun! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

January 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Dois Passos da Forca  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(ColumbiaColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The theme song for 3.10 To Yuma [1957] is played frequently here especially in scenes involving Vaughan and Blackman See more »

Goofs

When the dead Marshal Hiram Cain is brought back into town strapped onto a horse, he is clearly breathing when his widow is standing by him. See more »

Quotes

Ruth Granger: Eddie is just a boy. Tom was killed by a hardened criminal.
Ben Cutler: Do you think this kid is any less hardened? Since when is a young rattlesnake any less poisonous than an old one?
See more »

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User Reviews

 
There are a lot of things worse than fear.
11 October 2013 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Good Day for a Hanging is directed by Nathan Juran and adapted to screenplay by Daniel B. Ullman and Maurice Zimm from the story The Reluctant Hangman written by John H. Reese. It stars Fred MacMurray, Robert Vaughn, Joan Blackman, Margaret Hayes, James Dury and Wendell Holmes. It is filmed in Columbia Color with cinematography by Henry Freulich.

After claiming his daughter's childhood sweetheart killed the marshal of Springdale during the aftermath of a bank raid, the new marshal, Ben Cutler (MacMurray), finds himself in conflict with his family and the townsfolk who question the motives of his testimony.

Good Day for a Hanging is one of those films that you feel that with a few tweaks it could have been a bona fide great 50s Western. As it is, in spite of some viable complaints from those who have bothered to review it, it's still a hugely enjoyable broody Oater.

Film hinges on MacMurray's moody and stoic performance. Ben Cutler finds himself fighting a lone battle in getting outlaw Eddie "Kid" Campbell (Vaughn excellent) on to the gallows. Campbell's standing in the town is high, he's fondly remembered and after laying on a truly heartfelt plea of innocence during the trial, practically everyone is convinced that he is innocent, even the members of the Cutler posse who were there when Campbell gunned down the old marshal! And with those closest to Ben also firmly against him hanging Campbell, he is being pulled apart emotionally. It's a nicely etched turn from MacMurray, full of inner torment and believable bravado.

Juran constructs some very good passages in the story, the opening robbery is very tense, the court case deftly handled with its observations of how manipulation of the law can happen, and the building of the gallows outside Campbell's cell - and the subsequent morbid interest of the townsfolk - really puts an edge on proceedings. Unfortunately the final outcome to the excellent mood building is undone by an unconvincing turn of events, and it feels very rushed. It's a shame because it just needed someone to step forward and suggest changing the ending from that of the source material. You have to think that the likes of Boetticher and Mann would have put a different spin on it.

Still, and I note and agree that some of the dialogue is out of time for the era, this is way above being an average B Western. At the time Variety wrote in their notices that the colour wasn't right for the tone of the picture. To some degree I agree that shadowy black and white would have worked a treat, but in this High Def age you can really see the benefits of Freulich's photography, it's beautiful, but I viewed it from UK TCM HD Channel, which invariably means I'm seeing it different to those in 1959!

I fully endorse this to Western fans who haven't seen it, and especially to MacMurray and Vaughn fans. It has problems, and yes it's kinda like a poor man's version of High Noon - Ruth (Ben's love interest played by Hayes), even suggests that Ben throw his marshal badge in the dirt - yet it's a mature throwback well worthy of viewing investment. 7/10


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