Because his finances are low and he is seeking background for a new book, author Tony Barratt and his wife Dora return to his country home in Connecticut. While he is finding a theme for ... See full 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...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Tom Flaunce mentions to Rune that Doc Frail's house was on a bluff where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet. That whole geographical area is too low and flat for a bluff to possibly exist. See more »
Dr. Joseph 'Doc' Frail:
What you'll see is just a raw, wild little gold camp. A crawling anthill that could blow away with the first wind from the next bite. And you'll see some of the scum of the world. It's not a place you'd want to live.
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Underrated Western about a doctor (Gary Cooper) with a mysterious past who saves a criminal (Karl Swenson) from being hanged. Later the doctor begins to care for a woman (Maria Schell) whose father was killed in a stagecoach robbery, which also left her badly burned and blind. As the doctor and the woman become closer there are a few in town who begin to think they're up to no good. There's a lot more going on in this Western and it's certainly unlike many that were being made around this period because if you're expecting some sort of shoot 'em up then you're going to be disappointed. I'd have no problem recommending this film to people but at the same time there's no question that it's not going to be for everyone. Those who do appreciate its laid back nature and the more plot-driven device should end up having a good time with it. You also have a terrific cast delivers some very good performances with Cooper leading the way. Around this time James Stewart was showing off his dark side with various Alfred Hitchcock films and it seems Cooper wanted to show off he could do the same thing. The funny thing is that the screenplay allows him to show a dark and good side, which might seem like a cop out but it really isn't. There's an early scene where a poor family brings their sick daughter and the only reason she's sick is because of a lack of food. The tenderness Cooper shows during this scene is why everyone loves him. Then, later in the film, the darkness he shows when his past comes back to him is perfectly handled by the actor. Schell and Swenson are both very good in their roles and play well against Cooper. The supporting cast features Karl Malden playing a pervert who begins to have certain sexual feelings towards the girl. George C. Scott appears in a few scenes playing a drunken Christian who believes Cooper is the devil due to his medicine. The film works on a lot of levels and there's no question a large portion of the film is dedicated to the love story but this works as well. I really enjoyed how the screenplay mixed everything together because we get the love story, the gold rush action and then the character development, which leads up to an action-packed ending and a rather nice finish to things. The film contains some very good cinematography and the color picks up every terrific location shot. THE HANGING TREE has gotten a good sized cult following over the past several years and it's easy to see why as it features the great performances as well as a story that isn't typical told in the genre from this period.
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