A band of vigilantes catch Jed Cooper (Clint Eastwood) and, incorrectly believing him guilty of cattle rustling and murder, hang him, and leave him for dead. But he doesn't die. He returns to his former profession of lawman to hunt down his lynchers and bring them to justice.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
As with many westerns at the time the UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to reduce facial closeups during the opening lynching and to edit Cooper's fight with Miller. Later video/DVD releases were intact. See more »
Big Clint's first film outside of Serigo Leone's sensational Dollars trilogy is none other than...a Western. Hang 'Em High is a rather overlooked entry in Clint's long and impressive film wagon, even though it is a serious, no-nonsense and modest look at crime and punishment and a subtle dig at the injustice system, which was somewhat forgotten by his critics who emphasized that he was a symbol of violence, especially in the Dollars trilogy and the Dirty Harry series.
Clint plays an ex-lawman who picks up a new badge after he is almost killed by a group of men who hang him and leave him for dead. He then embarks on a mission to hunt them down one-by-one and hand them over to the law.
Ted Post's watchable Western drama is definitely a refreshing break from most other 'revenge' movies. Instead of cold-blooded vengeance, the script decides to display Clint's character, though still as the cold, silent anti-hero, as a more peaceful person who would truly like to see men behind bars rather than shooting them down. The film also keeps it grip, rarely letting a boring moment crawl in even though this is more talk than action.
Its not a perfect, polished or particularly great film - the characterization always stays pretty low and the romance between Clint and the charming Inger Stevens isn't fully developed, for instance. However, it has its highlights - a memorable opening sequence and an effective musical score - along with its notable touch for seeing justice rather than violence and killing. A good effort that's worth watching and not ignoring.
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