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HANGING TREE (1959)

 Unrated   DVD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Underrated and Forgotten Classic March 11 2010
Format:VHS Tape
I have seen many, many western movies and all of Gary Cooper's films, but this one is a forgotten little gem. I will not spoil your viewing enjoyment by giving details of the movie's story, but I will comment on the movie's cinematography and the actors' performances.

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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars forgotton classic Oct. 6 2010
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the finest westerns ever released. The script, acting, scenery,and plot are rarely equaled. It's a sin not to have this on a dvd in unedited form.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  155 reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A NEGLECTED MASTERPIECE! THANKFULLY, IT IS AVAILABLE ON DVD. March 17 2009
By Julia Stewart - Published on Amazon.com
This psychological Western ranks as high as "High Noon", if not a little higher. It is truly a sublime work of art. The script, based on Dorothy M. Johnson's novel, is intelligently written by Wendall Mayes (Anatomy of Murder) & Hallstead Welles. Much of the movie is filmed in the beautiful Ahtanum and Nile Valleys, Yakima, Washington and director Delmer Davis shows a good eye for action and bold vistas. Shot in Technicolor and superbly acted by Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden and Ben Piazza, the film is artistically and visually stunning! A haunting title song by Jerry Livingston (nominated for Oscar) and dramatic music score by Max Steiner (Sergeant York, The Fountainhead) complement the unforgettable story.

It is 1873, the Gold Trail, Montana. People from all walks of life are coming to small miners camp in hope to strike gold. Among them is Doctor Joe Frail. A complex man. A survivor of the ultimate betrayal that left him emotionally damaged. An excellent doctor, he heals everybody from just about everything, but is unable to mend his own broken heart. Instead, he resolves to never trust a woman again and changes his name from Temple to Frail. "It suits a man with frail hope"- he'd explain to a friend. Exceptionally kind, caring and compassionate, Joe Frail would do everything in his power to help his patients. And yet, he could be equally mean (but always fair) to his enemies and would lose his tamper quickly if somebody mentioned his past.

Doctor Frail saves the life of a young thief named Rune. Rune is desperate, homeless man, who would've been hanged or would've died from his wound if Doctor Frail did not operate on him. Rune can't pay the doctor for his professional service and so, he becomes his bond servant. It's not an easy relationship. Naturally, Rune is reserved and it will take him some time to realise that in fact, Frail has given him a home, a job and a purpose-a new lease of life.
A stagecoach is ambushed near town. All passengers are killed, only the driver and a young woman survive, but she gets lost in the wilderness. She is Elizabeth Mahler from Switzerland. The locals assemble a posse and after three days search they find her badly bruised, blinded, traumatized and semi-conscious. Doctor Frail decides to save her at all cost. He spends days and nights nursing her back to full health, aided only by Rune. Frail becomes her protector and later, a secret partner in her endeavors.
Tender love blossoms between Elizabeth and the doctor. Love that he longs for and would die for, but could not accept. There is only one cure for the damage caused by ultimate betrayal and that is ultimate sacrifice! Maria Schell is outstanding as the innocent young Elizabeth, who makes that ultimate sacrifice for the man she loves. Maria captured my heart with her natural beauty and her restrained and powerful performance.

Gary Cooper is tremendous as Doctor Frail. He was born to play that part, it suits his caring nature. As always, he gets gracefully under the skin of his character and they become one. In 1959 Coop won "Golden Laurel Top Action Performance" for this Oscar-worthy portrayal.
Karl Malden plays with chilling realism the local villain and attention-seeker Frenchy Plante. He was deservedly awarded 3rd place "Golden Laurel Top Male Supporting Performance".

Please, don't be put off by the title. There is a lot of humanity and wisdom in this story and many tender moments to savor. Without giving much away, I'd like mention a scene that involves a little girl suffering from malnutrition. Doctor Frail checks her thoroughly and tells her parents that she is malnourished. He realises that they are struggling financially and suggests they take his cow to fatten the child on some milk.

-"I can't pay for no cow"- says the embarrassed father.
-"I loan it to you" - replies the doctor.
-"How much we owe you?"- asks the mother.
Doctor Frail asks the little girl to give him a kiss and tells the parents that he's been paid.

There is drama, conflict, gunshots and a great fist-fight woven into the plot. All evolves to an explosive climax and leads to the most luminous and memorable finale of one of the greatest love stories ever told!

I do not understand why this magnificent film is neglected. It's a must see for any Gary Cooper, Maria Schell and Karl Malden admirer and for the fans of fine art in general. Thankfully, it is obtainable on DVD from Amazon.fr (France) or Amazon.de (Germany). Both sites have help pages in English with very good guidance of how to order, pay, return an item e.t.c. To get the help page you click on "Aide" (top right corner) for Amazon.fr, and on "Hilfe" for Amazon.de(top right corner). Also, you can email them in English and they will reply promptly and are happy to help. Both French and German editions have the original audio in English and the print is pristine. The only inconvenience is that the DVD is region 2 and you will need multi-region player, but the film is worth it. It must not be forgotten and it is in our power to prevent this happening. May be someday we will see region 1 edition with some extras- the kind of treatment "The Hanging Tree" deserves. I wish so and I hope so.
42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Abused Classic March 16 2010
By S. Baesmann - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
While this Gary Cooper gem is a must have classic, I would recomend waiting for a U.S. release. The DVD seems to have been copied from a video tape source, with just a passable picture and the sound has an annoying amount of noise present. Only buy this copy if you just can't wait and HAVE to have it. The five stars are for the story, not the copy.
84 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will someone explain why this film is not available!?? Jan. 19 2005
By tjcrewsbooks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This last time I saw this film, which was probably 15 or 20 years ago, it was excellent!
The scenery was breathtaking, and it was Gary Cooper in color!
I remember reading it was George C. Scott's first film, too.
Somebody has the rights to this film, and I guess they're holding out for big bucks. So what.
Does anyone think we'll pay $50 for a DVD? Or $80 for an obsolete VHS? C'mon, people!
The Hanging Tree is a good story, the film was done well and it affords great entertainment.
But, "whomever you are," if you wait long enough--no one will care. If you wait another 15 or 20 years, not enough of us will be around who care.
Can you imagine if there was a Rudolph Valentino film which had not been seen in 50 years? There would be a short line at the Box Office for that one!
49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE HANGING TREE...A TRUE CLASSIC Aug. 28 2004
By Rodger Lumpkins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
A TRUE MASTERPIECE OF A MOVIE..WITH SEVERAL OF THE GREATEST STARS OF ALL TIME..GARY COOPER..GEORGE C. SCOTT AND KARL MALDEN JUST TO NAME A FEW..GREAT MUSIC..EVERYTHING YOU COULD ASK FOR IN A MOVIE..AND WHERE IS IT..NO WHERE TO BE FOUND..I WAS LUCKY TO GET A COPY OF IT MANY YEARS AGO, BUT SOMEONE TELL ME WHY SO MANY REPEATS ARE SHOWN AND THIS ONE NEVER IS..I THINK I KNOW WHY..SO MORE MONEY CAN BE MADE FROM BUYING IT FROM THOSE FEW LUCKY ONES WHO HAVE IT AND SELL IT TO YOU..THE CHEAPEST PRICE I HAVE SEEN FOR A COPY IS 45.00...WORTH IT..BUT GIVE THE PEOPLE A BREAK.
34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 1% June 14 2005
By W. MCCAFFERTY - Published on Amazon.com
Format:VHS Tape
This classic is better than 99% of those westerns already on DVD. The acting and cinematograhpy are exceptional, and the story wonderful. We've been waiting for it on DVD ever since the DVD was invented. Amazon needs to place this title on their DVD search engine so that people can sign up for notification of its availability and perhaps that way help get the word out to the powers that be.
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