Ox - Bow Incident

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movieman1957
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Post by movieman1957 »

I met Harry Morgan when he was on "Dragnet." I thought he and Webb were pretty stiff. Little did I know it was the way they did the show. I've seen Harry in lots of movies and it was a treat to find out he was more than "Dragnet."

He does a fine turn in "Suuport Your Local Sheriff." I especially like the scene where Joan Hackett sets herself on fire. Morgan lays the blame on "pooberty" because it hit her so hard.
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Dewey1960
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Post by Dewey1960 »

I feel that Andrews' letter is perfect (letter perfect?) from virtually every perspective; its content, the way in which Fonda reads it and the way that Wellman filmed it. I think it's important to realize that before THE OX-BOW INCIDENT became a filmed masterpiece, it was a literary masterpiece. Walter Van Tilburg Clark's novel not only wove a suspenseful western tale, it provided readers with an important and disturbing moral lesson at the same time. Less preachy? If ever a sermon of great, well thought out power needed to be delivered, particularly in the face of such a devastating human tragedy, this was the time. Wellman's film remained true to the literary concerns and devices of the novel. For that we should be eternally grateful and not search for ways to improve it.
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

movieman1957 wrote:I met Harry Morgan when he was on "Dragnet." I thought he and Webb were pretty stiff. Little did I know it was the way they did the show. I've seen Harry in lots of movies and it was a treat to find out he was more than "Dragnet."

He does a fine turn in "Suuport Your Local Sheriff." I especially like the scene where Joan Hackett sets herself on fire. Morgan lays the blame on "pooberty" because it hit her so hard.


I love the way he shouts expletives on M*A*S*H: "Horse hockey!" "Bull cookies!" "Moose fritters!!" And let us not forget his turn as Charles Laughton's silent and menacing (and very buff) henchman in The Big Clock.
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Ann Harding
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Post by Ann Harding »

I feel a bit ill at ease discussing the Ox-Bow Incident as I haven't seen it in years. I first saw it many years ago as a teenager and liked it. But, about 10 years ago, when I saw it again on British TV, I was very disappointed. the film felt suddenly ponderous to me and quite preachy. I noticed that a few people here had the same feeling so it wasn't just me....

I have pretty much the same feeling towards many William Wellman films actually. He can produce some fantastic films (Across The Wide Missouri, Midnight Mary or Heroes for Sale) or some real duds like (Robin Hood of El Dorado). His innate 'dryness' at time grates on me. Like in The Light That Failed, another literary adaptation. His script (he directed and wrote the script) is very faithful to Kipling's novel. Too much so, I would say. He doesn't manage to articulate the scenes in a 'cinematic way'. It looks like a succession of vignettes in a way.... But, the film is worth watching because of Ronald Colman, Walter Huston and Ida Lupino's beautiful performances and Theodor Sparkuhl's superb cinematography.
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ChiO
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Post by ChiO »

jdb1 said:
Harry Morgan is one of the most taken for granted actors ever. He's been around for umpteen years, doing splendid work, and has only one Emmy to show for it.


You said it! I first knew him as "Pete" on December Bride and Pete and Gladys and loved him. He seemed to be all over TV then (and a look at IMDb certainly confirms that). Later came the revelation that "oh, he's in movies, too?". Watching him in CIMARRON this week on TCM once again proved that he could always nail it.
Everyday people...that's what's wrong with the world. -- Morgan Morgan
I love movies. But don't get me wrong. I hate Hollywood. -- Orson Welles
Movies can only go forward in spite of the motion picture industry. -- Orson Welles
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Alan K.
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Harry Morgan

Post by Alan K. »

I heard a story recently about Harry Morgan that summarized his incredibly durable career.

Harry's better half ran into Charlton Heston's wife at some function and while chatting Mrs. Heston remarked, " Harry was in Chuck's first movie (Dark City)" Mrs. Morgan smiled and replied, "Harry was in everyone's first movie.".
"First is First and second is nobody"
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

Yeah, see what I mean? Good story.
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JackFavell
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by JackFavell »

"THE OX-BOW INCIDENT" has got to be the most devastating western ever made!


Hi, CM Honey!

How are you? Well, I must tell you, for someone who doesn't like westerns, you sure jumped in with both feet.... and Ox Bow is one of the best. I hope it doesn't spoil you for any others.

It IS devastating. I can't even look at photos from it without getting choked up.

Image
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mrsl
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by mrsl »

I've only been able to watch Ox-Bow once in its' entirety. Talk about choked up. It was two years ago that I saw it for the first time, and I still remember the chills and goose-bumps during the reading of that letter. Fonda did such a phenomenal job in the film, and I felt such frustration for the men being hung, that even though it's been on both TCM and Encore Westerns, I still can't make myself watch it. Some movies strike me that way, and I don't force myself to put me in a bad place.

To be honest, you don't even have to pronounce it as a Western, the story, filmed with all the noir trimmings, and the calibre of acting from the whole cast and direction disregard the Western motif'. That movie could have been done in any era at any place.

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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by JackFavell »

That's a really brilliant statement, mrsl. You are so right, it transcends it's genre so completely, that you can't even really call it a western.

I just watched it again this afternoon, and was surprised at how strong all the performances were, and how different each of the characters were. The other thing that caught my eye was the directing style, the set up of the shots. The use of closeups was beautifully done, all the way through the film. I was surprised at how leisurely the pace was, because I remembered how quickly everything seemed to happen the first time I saw it. These men not only rushed to judgement, they then waited around, so sure of themselves in their need to be right that they no longer had to think about their actions for the rest of the night. This was no quick lynching, as I had remembered, but a slow and deliberate one. They waited till dawn, and still ended up acting on their initial impulses. It made the film more chilling for me to realize that the "posse" really was acting on prejudice, in a a flurry of irrationality, but the mob mentality did not go away after waiting for a couple hours. SO what does this say about people? That once they've made a decision in front of other like minded people, it becomes very hard for most people to back down? Even when it is clear that they are wrong?
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by MissGoddess »

SO what does this say about people? That once they've made a decision in front of other like minded people, it becomes very hard for most people to back down? Even when it is clear that they are wrong?

Good question. I think it's particularly hard for men to do that in front of their peers.
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mrsl
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by mrsl »

I think that's a very true statement. That's exactly what happened to the two Henry's. The most comfort I could dredge up for them is the fact that they were both against the lynching from the start. Although there was a fight, they really didn't fight too hard to stop the madness.
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Mr. Arkadin
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by Mr. Arkadin »

I think we are forgetting that one of the most heartless of the lynchers (and one who actually held a rope during the hangings) was a woman.

Gil and Art start out with the mob for obvious reasons. They have not been in town long and could fall under suspicion by refusing help (there is an early insinuation at the bar), or as Gil puts it, "it might look funny if we didn't." Thus, their outset is self preservation. Although Gil refuses the letter, he does not believe in mob justice (or Tetley's authority) and does what he can to refute the group. When he is physically restrained at the end, I believe he is reaching for his gun (it's been awhile since I've seen it).

It's important to remember that Martin had the man's cattle, Martinez was caught in several lies (and with the man's property), and Old Dad was so confused he was confessing. While there was no evidence that these men were innocent, Gil and Art both felt the rush to judgment was wrong and did what they could (as the only young men besides Tetley's coward son) to stop it without getting killed themselves. While this is not a heroic role for Fonda and Morgan, it is nevertheless a realistic one, which is why many find the film so jarring.

The film ends as it began, in the bar with men drinking under a painting of a woman being assaulted from behind. Oxbow's premise here establishes a society where there are no absolutes, which makes life (and the film) a tragedy.
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by JackFavell »

The film ends as it began, in the bar with men drinking under a painting of a woman being assaulted from behind. Oxbow's premise here establishes a society where there are no absolutes, which makes life (and the film) a tragedy.


I totally agree. Had Gil been more proactive and heroic, the message of the film would have been muddied, because we are Gil. The point is , that we must look more closely at OURSELVES rather than feel smug in the knowledge that WE would have somehow known better... I know I would have been terrified out of my wits at the prospect of being lynched by an angry crowd turning on me.

Having been none too quick to stop the lynching, Gil and Art have no other recourse but to weakly try to make amends to Martin's widow, which is more than any of the others would do. The others would have been too mortified to look her in the eye, and so they will sit at the bar and try to pretend it didn't happen. A bleak future awaits.

I cannot even imagine how Henry Fonda was able to make this film after having seen a real lynching. To act that out on screen, bringing up all the memories it brought must have been tough.

I have a question about the three men - Andrews, Quinn and Ford. Quinn is a tough customer. Right before the hanging, he says, "Look at what kind of men I have to die with..." intimating that one was a crybaby and the other was a sickly old man who was weak in the head. How do you feel about that? Were they weak? I felt that Dana Andrews was the most sympathetic, the one we are to feel empathy for, because I think we are supposed to feel that Andrews is like us. Quinn was magnificent, the way he died, no matter how he was when he lived. One had to respect him. I LOVED his answer to the men, when confronted about speaking English - he said he was able to speak ten languages. What a waste. Why do you suppose they wrote Quinn's character the way they did, in such a hard way? Was he a bad man, do you think?
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Re: Ox - Bow Incident

Post by mrsl »

No, he wasn't a bad man, but a highly educated and intelligent one. He knew that because of his ethnicity the mob could care less about anything he said in his defense. He also knew his two partners were of no use to him in any kind of aid, one being so old and decrepit, and the other having only his family on his mind which was tearing him apart. I think Quinn was extremely brave and like all brave men, afraid of what was coming, but by making his last statement, and the question being put to him about language, he was able to inform his captors of his intelligence and what a mistake they were making.
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Anne


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