Ox - Bow Incident

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ken123
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Ox - Bow Incident

Post by ken123 »

The Ox - Bow Incident still carries a terrific punch more than sixty years after its original release. Directer William Wellman, "The High and the Mighty ', Nothing Sacred ", Yellow Sky ", and "Lady of Burlesque " ( Barbara Stanwyck ) bought the rights to the novel and it took years before he could convince a studio that the subject of lynching was a worthy one to tackle. Finally Fox, under the leadership of Darryl Zanuck had the courage to make this film. It is still great today. :P
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moira finnie
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The Ox Bow Incident

Post by moira finnie »

Best moment in The Ox Bow Incident: when Henry Fonda reads the letter to Harry Morgan and Wellman chose to show only part of Fonda's face blocked by Morgan. A powerful, restrained moment and one of Fonda's best understated roles.

Have you seen the dvd?
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ken123
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The Ox - Bow Incident DVD

Post by ken123 »

Yes, I have the DVD. A good audio commentary with Bill Wellman, Jr. taking part. He is repetitive, but it is still very good. :D
Mr. Arkadin
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Re: The Ox Bow Incident

Post by Mr. Arkadin »

moirafinnie wrote:Best moment in The Ox Bow Incident: when Henry Fonda reads the letter to Harry Morgan


Actually, I will disagree here. I personally think the reading of "the letter" was the flaw of the film. It would have been much better to let us, the audience wonder what the letter contains.

I think also the letter itself was a bit over-preachy and sermonistic as if we needed somone to tell us mob violence was wrong. If you didn't get the point of this film by that time, a letter was not going to enlighten you that much.

I prefered the more subtle ideas that started the film. When Henry Fonda looks at the painting over the bar and says: "She could do better!" it's an interesting statement. By the end of this film we realize there are no heroes and no "better" man.

Society is shown to be much like the painting--an ugly mankind grabbing the innocent and defensless and subjecting them to their will.

I love the film otherwise and think it's possibly Dana Andrews best performance.
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

Actually, I will disagree here. I personally think the reading of "the letter" was the flaw of the film. It would have been much better to let us, the audience wonder what the letter contains.


I appreciate what you mean about the letter being a tad preachy, Ark. I didn't express it well in my original post, but it isn't the content of the letter that I found moving, it was the expression on Morgan's face and the intonation of Fonda's voice, as well as the director & cameraman's choice of the scene's composition that struck me when I saw the film.

I agree about Dana Andrews performance. He established his character's desperation and essential decency in relatively brief time on screen. I also like some of the points made by interlacing comedy into the film, such as Fonda's comment about "She could do better" and Harry Morgan's statement that Fonda should feel better after he's engaged in some meaningless fisticuffs after a few stiff drinks following a particularly frustrating and long dry spell out on the range.

All of the characters seem to be a microcosm of society and individual human strengths and deep flaws. Thanks for making me think more carefully about what I found powerful in a particular scene and the film as a whole.

I wonder what you and others think of the characterizations of Major Tetley (Frank Conroy) and Gerald Tetley (William Eythe)? Was it too pointed and melodramatic or did that element of the story fit well?
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Post by movieman1957 »

Major Tetley may have been a little heavy handed but I think he had to be a central character of the film. If my memory serves me well enough he was trying to be "legal enough" while being able to run the whole show.
The son, I thought, was almost dispensble. Granted he was the opposite of his father but what his contribution in moving the story? He wasn't the conscious as that was more than amply supplied by Fonda, Morgan and Davenport. Maybe if he had been able to stand up to his father better he might have been more interesting.
Chris

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Post by Mr. Arkadin »

I felt that Tetley's son was nessacary if only to show what kind of a monster his father was, and how his nature created a son that was in fact, spineless like himself. Unlike his father, he is not attempting to hide his nature.

Moira, glad you understand it's not personal. Totally agree about the shot of Fonda's eyes as he reads. Things got so out of control at TCM I found myself staying out of threads or having to be apologetic about not agreeing with someone about what I personally saw in a film. We all have different thoughts and views and that's OK.

I am really interested in others viewpoints and why they see things the way they do. It helps me in writing and learning about film (or anything else).

Art is subjective and to think one person holds "the right" view while others are wrong is to miss the point entirely. I love good conversation and if every one agreed with everyone else--what would there be to talk about?

Sorry if overlong and apologetic (TCM habits). I just wanted to state that we're all different people and it's great to have diversity in views. I am enjoying the opportunity to talk with people with serious opinions about film and learning a lot.
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Post by movieman1957 »

[quote="Mr. Arkadin"]I felt that Tetley's son was nessacary if only to show what kind of a monster his father was, and how his nature created a son that was in fact, spineless like himself. Unlike his father, he is not attempting to hide his nature.


You do bring up a good point about the Major being spineless as well. He did order everyone else to do "his " work.
Chris

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No need to apologize

Post by moira finnie »

You make me smile, Ark. We all need to decompress from the atmosphere of TCM. Disagreement is a sign of intelligent life on earth, but I understand all too well how you feel.
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ken123
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Post by ken123 »

Harry Morgan, Henry Fonda's sidekick in " The Ox - Bow Incident ", was a member of the leftist Grpup Theatre, I wonder why is seems that he didn't have any HUAC problems. :wink:
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Post by mrsl »

I have a couple of problems with Ox Bow.

The first is that I have a hard time watching it. The first time I was glued to the TV. As I said before, I had it confused with The Bedford Incident which also had a racist challenge to it. I find now, however, knowing what is coming, it's hard to see those men and know they are going to be hung when I know they are innocent.

As for reading the letter, I think it had to be read, but it should have been shorter and less preachy. A pure love letter to his wife and children with a plea for forgiveness for his trespassers would have been sufficient to make the group feel like you know what.

Finally, I wish Henry and Harry would have put in some digs to the other men that they were going to assist the lady who should be rejoicing that her man was returning instead of what they actually had to tell her.

Anne
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Post by raftfan »

After the umpteenth viewing of this film, I too came to the realization this evening that the letter was too well-composed and literate to be written in such a brief time by a man whose life has been so suddenly altered and is facing the prospect of almost certain death. I doubt that under those terrifying circumstances I could be so coherent and rational.
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Post by Lzcutter »

Didn't Sullivan Balleau write a stirring, heartfelt letter to his wife on the Eve of the Battle of Bull Run? The next day he was killed in battle.
Lynn in Lake Balboa

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Post by mrsl »

Lynn:

Maybe Sullivan did, but he wasn't under any pressure to finish, or any time limit. Also, he didn't KNOW he was going to die within the hour. You saw the time when Dana started on one page and ripped it up, so he was obviously having a hard time deciding what to say. Given the long time it took Henry to read it, it was a pretty long letter, and I'm sure they weren't being all that thoughtful and courteous to him while he was writing.

Anne
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jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

You know, folks, seeing Ox Bow again, and then watching M*A*S*H reruns, makes me once again think that 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. The man is over 90, after all. Why hasn't he been inundated with lifetime achievement awards? I don't really care too much about these award things, but here is an actor everyone knows, even if they don't know his name - he deserves better than "there's what's his name." My college-age daughter adores him, and calls him "Grandpa Harry." She's much more likely to watch an old movie if she sees his name in the cast.

It's a crying shame.
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