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The Hanging Tree (1959)

Not Rated | | Western | 20 February 1959 (Japan)
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.

Directors:

Delmer Daves, Karl Malden (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

Wendell Mayes (screenplay), Halsted Welles (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gary Cooper ... Dr. Joseph 'Doc' Frail
Maria Schell ... Elizabeth Mahler
Karl Malden ... Frenchy Plante
George C. Scott ... George Grubb
Karl Swenson ... Tom Flaunce
Virginia Gregg ... Edna Flaunce
John Dierkes ... Society Red
King Donovan ... Wonder
Ben Piazza ... Rune
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From The Prize Novel -- A Picture Of Thundering Power! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 February 1959 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hanging Tree See more »

Filming Locations:

Nile, Washington, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,350,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Baroda, Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Takes place in Montana, 1873. See more »

Goofs

Prior to the doctor attending to Elizabeth, he rolls his left sleeve up once and then the same sleeve again in the next shot. See more »

Quotes

Elizabeth Mahler: Must you always look at a woman like that?
Frenchy Plante: Don't a partner have some right, hanh? don't he ever get a free look? I suppose you gotta get a doctor to get that, hunh? I suppose if you was a doctor, then you could get an eyeful, hanh?
[She slaps him]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in What's My Line?: Maria Schell (1959) See more »

Soundtracks

The Hanging Tree
Lyrics by Mack David
Music by Jerry Livingston
Vocal by Marty Robbins
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Unconventional and Great Western
1 February 2012 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In 1873, in the Gold Trail, Montana, the mysterious and controller Dr. Joseph Frail (Gary Cooper) 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 (Ben Piazza) 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 (George C. Scott) tells to the locals that Dr. Frail, who is an excellent gambler and gunfighter, is a devil, but nobody gives attention to his words.

Sooner 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 (Karl Malden) finds the Swedish Elizabeth Mahler (Maria Schell) 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 helps them to begin their business with The Lucky Lady Mine. When Elizabeth learns that Dr. Frail is helping her, she is disappointed but she promises to pay her debt with him someday. During a heavy rain, a tree falls down and the trio of partners finds a fortune in gold underground. Frenchy drinks with the locals and when he is drunk, he takes an attitude that will affect the lives of the locals and Skull Creek, mostly of Dr. Frail, Elizabeth and Rune.

"The Hanging Tree" is an unconventional and great western with a dramatic story supported by complex characters in a small town in the gold rush and not in shootout and other usual themes in this type of film. The lead characters are intriguing, with Gary Cooper performing a bitter character with a hidden past but also a good and fair man. Rune is also a good man that had robbed only due to his needy situation. Maria Schell performs a sweet and well-educated woman, capable to greet everybody and also tough in a negotiation. Karl Malden is fantastic as usual and the scum Frenchy Plante is one of the most despicable characters I have ever seen. Virginia Gregg has a minor but effective performance and her character Edna Flaunce is an example of how sickening and nauseating a human being can be.

This is the first time that I see this film, recently released on DVD by a small Brazilian distributor, and it was a magnificent surprise for me since I am not a fan of the conventional Western genre. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "A Árvore dos Enforcados" ("The Hanging Tree")


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