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The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 21 May 1943 (USA)
When a posse captures three men suspected of killing a local farmer, they become strongly divided over whether or not to lynch the men.

Director:

William A. Wellman

Writers:

Lamar Trotti (written for the screen by), Walter Van Tilburg Clark (from the novel by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... Gil Carter
Dana Andrews ... Donald Martin
Mary Beth Hughes ... Rose Mapen
Anthony Quinn ... Juan Martínez
William Eythe ... Gerald Tetley
Harry Morgan ... Art Croft (as Henry Morgan)
Jane Darwell ... Ma Grier
Matt Briggs ... Judge Daniel Tyler
Harry Davenport ... Arthur Davies
Frank Conroy ... Major Tetley
Marc Lawrence ... Jeff Farnley
Paul Hurst ... Monty Smith
Victor Kilian ... Darby
Chris-Pin Martin ... Poncho
Willard Robertson ... Sheriff Risley
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

IT TOOK NERVE TO MAKE IT! YOU'LL NEED NERVE TO TAKE IT! (original print ad-all caps) See more »

Genres:

Drama | Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish

Release Date:

21 May 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ox-Bow Incident See more »

Filming Locations:

Chatsworth, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$565,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,635,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director William A. Wellman loved the novel "The Ox-Bow Incident" and had long wanted to make it into a film, but the rights-holders insisted that he cast Mae West in any adaptation, which Wellman thought was ridiculous. Finally, Wellman bought the rights himself, and proceeded to make the film "his" way. See more »

Goofs

Though the Mexican (Anthony Quinn) uses incorrect Spanish in responding "No sabe," his demeanor and his boast that he speaks 10 language suggest he does this deliberately to show derision toward the posse. See more »

Quotes

Donald Martin: Why do ya keep asking me all these questions? You don't believe anything I tell you.
Major Tetley: There's truth in lies too, if you can get enough 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Fonda on Fonda (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

Red River Valley
(uncredited)
Traditional
Played at the beginning and end of the film as well as at the camp site prior to the hanging
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
SPOILER AHEAD...Grim, sobering and well-acted story of vigilante justice...
7 May 2005 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

THE OX-BOW INCIDENT was never considered a success at the time of release, especially by studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck who never considered a film a success of any kind if it lost at the box-office. However, over the years it has become an artistic success with fans who appreciate good movie-making when they see it.

The performances are all first rate--particularly HENRY FONDA as the not too bright drifter who opposes the lynching mob, Harry Morgan as his rather slow witted sidekick, Frank Conroy as the General with the weakling son (William Eythe), and most importantly, DANA ANDREWS, who has the most riveting role in the whole film and makes the most of it. His is the outstanding contribution, sensitive and gripping. The story is based on a true incident that happened in Montana in the late 1880s--and, of course, one that could have happened anywhere in the old West.

It's easy to see why it was not a commercial success. Except for Fonda, there are no other major stars in the cast for marquee value. Neither Dana Andrews nor Anthony Quinn had yet achieved star status. The story is grim and downright sobering, dwelling, as it does, on man's inhumanity to man. The Paul Hurst character, who makes various mocking gestures with his hangman's knot, adds to the grim gloominess of all the proceedings. Hurst (who played the Yankee deserter in GWTW) was almost always cast as a villainous lug.

The night scenes involving the hanging seem to take place on a studio soundstage but somehow it doesn't matter. Nothing distracts from the taut realism of the drama once we know that the lynching is definitely going to be carried out. Afterwards, the knowledge that the man they allegedly hanged is not dead, comes as a twist that drives home the senselessness of what their mob mentality has done.

Mary Beth Hughes has a decorative role as the only feminine interest in the film--except for an uncredited bit by Margaret Hamilton and an unusually grim and unsympathetic role for Jane Darwell.

Well worth watching, a message picture that delivers without being preachy. My only complaint is that the letter Fonda reads at the end could have been simpler and less eloquent for the sake of realism and in keeping with the naturalness of Dana Andrew's performance. Complementing Andrew's work is a nice, sympathetic performance by character actor Harry Davenport as the man who tries hard to prevent the hanging.

Otherwise, everything is right on the mark. Well worth watching.


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