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The Hanging Tree (1959) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • In 1873, on the Gold Trail, Montana, the mysterious and controlling Dr. Joseph Frail arrives in the small town of Skull Creek with miners in a gold rush. Dr. Frail buys a cabin on the top of a hill and he sees the smalltime thief Rune wounded and chased by a mob that wants to hang him. Dr. Frail helps and heals Rune; but in return, he demands that the young man becomes his bond servant. The alcoholic healer and preacher George Grubb tells to the locals that Dr. Frail, who is an excellent gambler and gunfighter, is a devil and has a mysterious past but nobody gives attention to his words. Soon the stagecoach is robbed by thieves that kill the passengers but the coachman survives and three days later he reaches Skull Creek. He tells that the horses had speed down the hill with a young woman inside the stagecoach. The men organize a pursuit and the rude Frenchy Plante finds the Swedish Elizabeth Mahler burnt and blind. Dr. Frail and Rune take care of her and they learn that Elizabeth and her father, who was killed in the heist, had come to America to settle down. When Elizabeth is healed, she falls in an unrequited love with Dr. Frail and she decides to stay in Skull Creek to seek gold with Rune. They form a partnership with Frenchy and Dr. Frail secretly finances them to begin their business with The Lucky Lady Mine. When Elizabeth learns that Dr. Frail is helping her, she is upset that he is trying to control them and she promises to pay her debt to him someday. During a heavy rain, a tree falls down at the mine and the trio of partners finds a fortune in gold underground. Frenchy takes some gold to town to buy drinks with the locals and when he is drunk, he takes actions that will affect the lives of the locals and Skull Creek, mostly of Dr. Frail, Elizabeth and Rune.

    - Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • This laid-back Western stars genre stalwart Gary Cooper as a new doctor in a gold-mining camp, who devotes his time to treating blind girl Maria Schell. Unfortunately, however, the doctor has a rather sinister past which may place himself and his associates in considerable danger.

    - Written by The Unbeliever <fredb@mypc.edu>
  • Character study of a Doctor who saves a local criminal from a mob who are trying to hang him, but then tries to control the life of the young man, realizing that he can exploit his secret.

    - Written by David Gibson <djg6@ukc.ac.uk>

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