When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice.When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice.When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice.
Not as great as the Leone westerns but Eastwood's performance is good. Pat Hingle is even better and just about steals the movie.
'Hang 'Em High' was Clint Eastwood's first American Western after working on Sergio Leone's groundbreaking Dollars "trilogy". Some people describe it as an American attempt at a spaghetti western, but I really don't see it. Yes, it features a revenge theme, common to many spaghetti westerns, and it has a few moments of brutality and moral ambiguity, but really it's firmly in the tradition of the Hollywood Western. Leone was supposedly asked to direct but chose to make his masterpiece 'Once Upon A Time In The West' instead. Ted Post who directed 'Rawhide', the TV series which made Eastwood a star of the small screen, directed instead (Post and Eastwood would later be reunited with 'Magnum Force'). 'Hang 'Em High' is nowhere near as good as Leone's movies but it's still better than many would lead you to believe. Eastwood gives a good performance and the movie is jam packed with character actors and familiar faces. It starts off brilliantly with Eastwood being accused of stealing cattle by a posse (led by veteran Ed Begley, and including Bruce Dern and Peckinpah regular L.Q. Jones), and then hanged! Luckily Eastwood is saved by a wandering Marshall (Ben Johnson) and taken to prison. The local judge (Pat Hingle) frees Eastwood and offers him a job as a lawman, which he takes, using it as an opportunity to track down the hanging party who nearly killed him. Eastwood is good, but Pat Hingle is even better, giving a terrific performance of quite a complex character. Dern plays one of his patented scumbag roles, and Inger Stevens plays a local woman with a past who becomes Eastwood's love interest. I already mentioned legendary Western actors L.Q. Jones and Ben Johnson. Unfortunately Johnson doesn't get much screen time, but he does have a memorable scene with Dennis Hopper, who play a crazed character known as The Prophet. If you'd like to see more of these two actors together check out the rarely seen counter-culture Western 'Kid Blue' made in the early 1970s. I could go on and on about the supporting cast but I won't. Suffice it to say that film buffs will get lots of kicks watching this movie. 'Hang 'Em High' may not be close to Eastwood's best work, but it's still worth watching, for Pat Hingle if nothing else.
- Feb 26, 2004
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