HANGING TREE (1959)
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Many stars saddled up and rode into Technicolor sunsets during the great Western revival of the 1950s, but only a few would be forever associated with the rugged individualists of the West. Among them are John Wayne, Randolph Scott and the start of The Hanging Tree, Gary Cooper. The story takes place in Skull Creek, an 1870s Montana gold camp. Dr. Joseph Frail (Cooper) arrives, setting out his shingle near the camp's boom-or-bust hubbub of adventurers, ladies of fortune, mountain men and just plain decent folks. As skilled with a six-gun as with a scalpel, Frail will need both. A tragic past shadows his days. The treachery of the mob clouds his future. A determined immigrant (Maria Schell), a shifty-eyed miner (Karl Malden) and a hellfire preacher (debuting George C. Scott) figure prominently in Frail's showdown with fate. Prominent, too, is the breathtaking countryside. Here the mountains are imposing. And a man alone looms ever taller.
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Top Customer Reviews
The Hanging Tree (1959) is Gary Cooper's finest western and a much better movie than High Noon, period. It also the vehicle for one of Gary Cooper's best performances ever. Sadly it is also one of last movies he ever made. Filmed in glorious Technicolor, the scenery near Yakima, Washington, is spectacular and the camera work excellent. Under the deft hand of renowned director Delmer Daves (assisted by Karl Malden who stepped in for Daves' during his illness near the end of filming), the actors provide an intense character study of greed, exploitation, moral corruption, redemption, and love - set in the old west of the late 19th century. Other cast members giving outstanding performances are the beautiful Maria Schell, a drunken fortune hunter, Karl Malden, along with relative newcomers, George C Scott (in one of his more sinister roles) and a very young Ben Piazza. In fact, the entire cast gave excellent performances.
The movie's title song, written by Jerry Livingston (music) and Mack David (lyrics) and sung by Marty Robbins, was nominated for an Academy Award (losing to High Hopes from A Hole In The Head). It is that type of catchy tune that once you hear it you will be whistling, singing and humming it forevermore. The song, The Hanging Tree, was far more popular and received greater airplay than the Oscar winner, High Hopes, and also outsold the winner by over ten thousand to one.
For some unknown reason Warner Bros. has not released this terrific movie on DVD.Read more ›