The Hanging Tree ()

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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.

  • Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations.
  • See more »

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Cast verified as complete

Dr. Joseph 'Doc' Frail
Elizabeth Mahler
Frenchy Plante
George Grubb
Tom Flaunce
Edna Flaunce
Society Red
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Emile Avery ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Fern Barry ...
Mother (uncredited)
Trapper (uncredited)
Oscar Blank ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Danny Borzage ...
Dan (uncredited)
Annette Claudier ...
Dance Hall Girl (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Martin Eric ...
Father (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Dick Hudkins ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Dorothy Klewer ...
Duck Girl (uncredited)
Baron James Lichter ...
Tim - Piano Player (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Fred Marlow ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Harold Millen ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Karen Norris ...
Duck Girl (uncredited)
Horseman (uncredited)
Bartender (uncredited)
Ford Raymond ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Clarence Straight ...
Dealer (uncredited)
Slim Talbot ...
Stage Driver (uncredited)
Don Turner ...
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman (uncredited)
Townsman Who Sells Cabib (uncredited)

Directed by

Delmer Daves ... (from 17 June to 28 July 1958)
Karl Malden ... (uncredited) (from 29 July to 30 Aug. 1958)
Vincent Sherman ... (uncredited) (only on 30 July 1958)

Written by

Wendell Mayes ... (screenplay) and
Halsted Welles ... (screenplay)
Dorothy M. Johnson ... (novel)

Produced by

Martin Jurow ... producer
Richard Shepherd ... producer

Music by

Max Steiner

Cinematography by

Ted D. McCord ... director of photography (as Ted McCord)

Film Editing by

Owen Marks

Art Direction by

Daniel B. Cathcart

Set Decoration by

Frank M. Miller

Costume Design by

Marjorie Best ... (as Marjorie O. Best)

Makeup Department

Gordon Bau ... makeup supervisor
Alma Johnson ... hairdresser (uncredited)
Lou LaCava ... makeup artist (uncredited)
Ray Romero ... makeup artist (uncredited)
Marion Vaughn ... hairdresser (uncredited)
Henry Vilardo ... makeup artist (uncredited)

Production Management

Lew Leary ... unit production manager

Second Unit Director or Assistant Director

Russell Llewellyn ... assistant director
Al Alleborn ... assistant director (uncredited)
Gil Kissel ... assistant director (uncredited)
John Prettyman ... assistant director (uncredited)

Art Department

Archie Neel ... prop master (uncredited)
Don Redfern ... assistant property master (uncredited)

Sound Department

Stanley Jones ... sound
Howard Cozad ... cable person (uncredited)
Jule Danto ... p.a. operator (uncredited)
William Griffith ... radio man (uncredited)
Louis Hogue ... cable person (uncredited)
Everett A. Hughes ... boom operator (uncredited)
William Lambert ... sound recordist (uncredited)
Robert J. Miller ... sound recordist (uncredited)
Ben Sad ... cable person (uncredited)


John Hudkins ... stunts (uncredited)
Slim Talbot ... stunt double (uncredited)

Camera and Electrical Department

Gerald Perry Finnerman ... assistant camera (uncredited)
M. Gunther ... assistant camera (uncredited)
Horace Jones ... assistant camera (uncredited)
Wally Meinardus ... assistant camera (uncredited)
Everett Miller ... best boy (uncredited)
George Gordon Nogle ... camera operator (uncredited)
Charles O'Bannon ... gaffer (uncredited)
Maynard Rugg ... camera operator (uncredited)
Jack Woods ... still photographer (uncredited)

Costume and Wardrobe Department

Orry-Kelly ... wardrobe: Miss Schell
Russ Cole ... wardrobe: men (uncredited)
Kathleen Dennis ... wardrobe: women (uncredited)
Henry Field ... wardrobe: men (uncredited)
Michael J. Harte ... wardrobe: men (uncredited)
Adene Henderson ... wardrobe: women (uncredited)
Joan Joseff ... costume jeweller (uncredited)
E. Murray ... wardrobe (uncredited)
Alexander Velcoff ... wardrobe: men (uncredited)

Music Department

Murray Cutter ... orchestrator

Script and Continuity Department

Marshall J. Wolins ... script supervisor (uncredited)

Other crew

John Gaston ... first aid (uncredited)
Lou Jones ... publicist (uncredited)
Lee Kuney ... time checker (uncredited)
Dutch Meyer ... auditor (uncredited)
Earl Riley ... technical advisor: Yakima (uncredited)
Bert Steiner ... dialogue coach (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies




Special Effects


Other Companies



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

Plot Keywords
Taglines Only a bullet could get close to him! See more »
Parents Guide Add content advisory for parents »

Additional Details

Also Known As
  • La colline des potences (France)
  • El árbol del ahorcado (Spain)
  • Vahşi Aşk (Turkey, Turkish title)
  • Hirsipuu (Finland)
  • Sto xespasma tis kataigidos (Greece)
  • See more »
  • 107 min
Aspect Ratio
Sound Mix
Filming Locations

Box Office

Budget $1,350,000 (estimated)

Did You Know?

Trivia Gary Cooper had a full face-lift and other cosmetic surgery on 16 April 1958, two months before filming began. The procedure was carried out at the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital by Dr John Converse, one of the leading plastic surgeons in the United States. Newspaper articles commenting on the effects of the operation said Cooper's face now looked quite different and the procedure had not been successful. 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 »
Movie Connections Edited into My Sister Maria (2002). See more »
Soundtracks The Hanging Tree See more »
Quotes Dr. Joseph 'Doc' Frail: Rune, this is Frenchy Plant. Never believe a word he says and never let him get behind you in the dark.
[Frenchy laughs]
See more »

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