The Ox-Bow Incident (William A. Wellman, 1943)

I watched this one yesterday and I must say that I’m surprised that it did not have a thread already since it’s regarded as one of the all time great westerns.
Together with “High Noon” and “The man who shoot Liberty Valance”, “The Ox-Bow Incident” is IMO the clearest example of a film who defines the western genre.
For that reason, and because the film has no weak spots it now ranks number 3 on my American western list.

One of my favourite 40s westerns without a doubt.
A terrific piece of film making.

Koch will release it in 1 or 2 months. Also as Blu Ray.

A thinking man’s western, and a great one at that.

I liked it a lot, but it contains some glitches. It snowballed into a neck-tie party too fast. The stagecoach intrusion was meaningless. And the ending wasn’t impactful enough… a group of guys silently zombie-eyed in a saloon.



SPOILERS (I mean, it’s over seventy years old now so I’m sure the statute of limitations is up on spoilers, but still)

Just watched this this morning for the first time; it’s definitely one of those “Should’ve Seen This By Now” pictures. I can see how it would’ve likely been quite impactful at the time, although it’s a shame how the theatrical nature of the movie (along with what would’ve been considered acceptable/tasteful at the time of course) left many of the major beats off-screen (the lynching, Morez’s attempted escape, Tetley’s suicide). Still, I enjoyed it more than I thought I was going to.

I think it’s an impressive film. Not visually, of course (though it’s well photographed), but narratively, in its thematic range: law versus justice, the individual versus the collective, Crowds and Power, father versus son, moral inflexibility and its (horrible) consequences, the nature of democracy … The supposed hero, Gil Carter (Fonda), remains ineffective and powerless throughout the entire movie. Not only has he lost his girl to some wimp from San Francisco, but he also is confronted with his impotence to prevent the lynching of three innocent men.

Reportedly one of Clint Eastwood’s favorite films when he was growing up and an inspiration for his Unforgiven (cf. Mary Lea Bandy and Kevin Stoehr’s Ride, Boldly Ride, p. 258). Wellman’s Yellow Sky (1948) and Westward the Women (1951) are good, unusual Westerns too.

I ought to watch it again because it is amazing.