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Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Ox Bow incident (released in 1943) starring Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan

The Ox Bow incident tells the tale of mob fury and violence. It is a western which is adapted from the book by Walter Van Tilburg Clark by the same name. The Ox-Bow Incident was selected for preservation in the United states National Film Registry by the Library of congress and was nominated for the the Oscar for the Best motion picture. When it was released, it tanked at the box office but over the years it has achieved artistic success and is marked for the superb acting of its cast namely Henry Fonda as Gil carter and Dana Andrews as Donald Martin.
The movie opens with Gil Carter and Art Croft (Harry Morgan), two drifters riding in to the town of Bridgers Well. They find that the tension is simmering in the town because of certain incidents of Cattle rustling or the stealing of livestock. The two new strangers are initially suspected of being thieves, but later an uneasy calm prevails. Gil Carter mourning the loss of his girl friend tries to drown his sorrows in the bottle.

Amidst all this a rider comes in with news that a local rancher, Larry Kinkaid is murdered and his cattle has been raided. This enrages the men around and they gang together to form a posse to hunt the cattle rustlers. A local Judge tries to pacify them and tells them not to take law in to their own hands. But the furious mob egged on by Major Tetley, Farnley, Jenny Grier pay little heed to the judges words and go in search of the thieves. Gil and Art are forced to join to avoid further suspicion.
They meet 3 men sleeping near the Ox Bow Canyon with some cattle nearby. It is revealed during interrogation that they are Donald Martin, Juan Martinez an illiterate Mexican and a senile Alva Hardwicke. The furious mob decides that these men are cattle thieves and decided to hang them. Only Gil, Gerard Tetley and Davies support the men and ask for clemency. But the furious mob overpowers them. Davies even reads out an eloquent letter written by Martin to his wife, to support his claims. To make matters worse, Juan Martinez is found to be a gambler knowledgeable in many local languages and in possession of a gun with Kinkaid's name engraved on it. This enrages the posse which orders the killing with Gerald Tetley being forced by his father to be one of the executioners.
The victorious posse on their return gets the news from the sheriff about the real culprits being caught for the attack on Larry Kinkaid. The judge and the Sheriff condemn their actions and promises to bring them to justice. The posse returns to the saloon and drinks, with Davies reading out the sad letter of Donald Martin. Major Tetley filled with remorse is driven to suicide when his son screams at him for his devilish behavior. At the end of the film Art and Gil is deputed by Davies to deliver the letter to Donald Martin's widow and ride out of Bridges Well.

The Ox Bow incident (released in 1943) starring Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan

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