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The Ox-Bow Incident

Henry Fonda , Dana Andrews , William A. Wellman    Unrated   DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 16.98
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The Ox-Bow Incident + Criterion Collection: My Darling Clementine + The Grapes of Wrath
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Product Description


The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the essential Westerns, directed by William Wellman. A study of the effects--and aftereffects--of mob violence, this film (based on a true story) begins with the murder of a popular rancher. Angry townspeople form a posse, find suspects, and, without waiting for a trial, summarily hang them in an expression of biblically tinged frontier justice. But the one cowboy who tried to turn the mob aside ultimately proves that they executed innocent men. Made in 1943, the film features stunning black-and-white cinematography and a solid dramatic sense about what a deadly combination ignorance and self-righteousness can be. Fonda made this film between The Grapes of Wrath and My Darling Clementine, at a point when he was at the peak of his powers as a young actor. --Marshall Fine

Product Description

Two drifters are passing through a Western town, when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople, joined by the drifters, form a posse to catch the perpetrators. They find three men in possession of the cattle, and are determined to see justice done on the spot.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short and Sharp Feb. 16 2004
This film is incredibly tense and concise; the antithesis of sprawling, yawning Westerns like "The Missing" and "Open Range." At just 75 minutes, shot in claustrophobic black-and-white, not a shot or line of dialogue is wasted. Dana Andrews is completely sympathetic as the leader of the three men unjustly accused of murder, while Henry Fonda has an unusually disquieting turn as someone who goes along with the lynching...at least, until the very end of the picture. They are just two of the many powerful performances. It's a great picture, even for people (like me) who aren't really too keen on Westerns.
The DVD includes a commentary by Dick Etulain, Western professor and enthusiast, and director William Wellman's son. This gets repetitive quickly, so it's best to sample the first thirty minutes and then move on. Strangely, Fox's sound editors seem to have felt similarly, because Wellman repeats a comment right in the middle of the film! Also included are a trailer, photo gallery, restoration comparison, and the real gem of the thing - a great "A&E Biography" episode on Henry Fonda.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Frontier Justice April 8 2003
I had read "The Ox-Bow Incident" some time before I had the opportunity to see the movie. I'm not sure what channel I caught it on but I was smart enough to tape it. Unfortunately, I was foolish enough to have a Beta VCR at the time. This is a timeless movie with a superb script that was well-adapted from Walter Van Tilberg Clark's western novel. The acting is terrific with Henry Fonda putting in an outstanding performance along with an excellent cast overall. The movie probably isn't even 90 minutes in length but in the time we have we are witness to an exceptional story. The plot is simple: In the late 1800's, news of the murder of a popular rancher reaches the local western town. In shock and anger, a posse is formed and the chase is on. They find the three men they seek, hold an on-the-spot trial and deliver justice in the frontier form of capital punishment. The bulk of the movie focusses on the "trial" of the three men who protest that they are innocent and unaware of the crime. We see how anger and hatred can close otherwise open minds. We see how people can be intimidated to not speak up against an authoritative majority. It reminds one of the quote of Edmund Burke that the only thing necessary for the success of evil "is that good men do nothing".
This movie is a spellbinding drama that came out in the midst of WWII. One can often enjoy many of the "propaganda" slants of the movies of that era. However, this is a very sobering message that suggests that the evils we were then fighting could become our own if we weren't careful. Perhaps the director chose this movie as a way of making a statement about the Japanese internments of the time. If so, it was an excellent yet subtle message. It is a timeless reminder to all of us.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece! July 6 2004
What are the last consequences about a crowd who decide to lynch a man?
Notice this film is made in just the middle of WW2. William Wellman made a timeless script about the no sense and the unthinkable behavior of a crowd in a small town who have decided in the name of a collective honor code to make justice by themselves.
You must have noticed that in the most of the cases the human being acts due the passion instead the reason. And that's the nucleus of the film . The concept of justice can not associate just because the number by itself imposses . This a warning for all of us .
Since the collective memory is weak and their feelings are always under the reason , you may inquire the reason must prevail. But beware. The point to remark is that the passion must under the reason's service .
In 1935 Fritz Lang made his first film in USA titled Fury with a closest script.
A powerful and timeless film!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fabulous Study of Mob Mentality Jan. 14 2004
Before "12 Angry Men" there was "The Ox-Bow Incident," a bleaker and never less than fascinating exploration of the nature of mob violence. Unlike "12 Angry Men," this film has no clear-cut heroes. It takes place in a more primitive, wilder time and location, and the principal question at the crux of this movie's conflict is whether or not three suspected cattle thiefs should be punished without due legal process. A small group is in favor of letting the frontier town sheriff handle the situation, while a much larger group smells only blood (and in some cases are motivated by personal vengeance) and convince themselves of the suspects' guilt without listening to any of the evidence. It's quite a frightening movie in its own way, and it has a stark look at odds with the average studio film being churned out at the time (1943).
Henry Fonda is quite good, as usual, in the closest thing the movie has to a main character, but it seems pointless to single him out in what is obviously such an ensemble effort, and in a movie that only lasts a mere 75 minutes or so and has such a large cast, each actor manages to color his/her character with delightful details, sometimes with no more than a single line of dialogue or one reaction shot.
"The Ox-Bow Incident" is a fantastic film. I don't think it's well-remembered now, but I'm thrilled to see it on DVD and hope that it will be rediscovered.
Grade: A
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Henry Fonda
The plot and acting are good, lots of well-known actors, not just Henry Fonda. This is truly a classic with a message - about vigilante justice gone terribly wrong.
Published 4 months ago by R. Pellettier
2.0 out of 5 stars Product was good. Prime was a waste.
I received the product, but the whole 'get it within the next 48 hours using Prime' was a bogus as one could endure. Days turned into well over a week and some. Read more
Published 6 months ago by D.W.
1.0 out of 5 stars Very dissepointing
Excellently played, bad, absolutely predictable end, stupidly expressed moral, horrible Arizona lynch story, badly done.
I feel sorry for Henry Fonda.
Published 9 months ago by Vaclav Musil
5.0 out of 5 stars the Ox-Bow Incident
C'est le meme que je me souviens . C'est une bonne memoire. Merci pour l'occasion de voir cet film. Merci encore.
Published 16 months ago by jb
5.0 out of 5 stars "Ox-Bow Incident (1943) ... Henry Fonda ... William A. Wellman...
20th Century Fox presents "OX-BOW INCIDENT" (1943) (75 min/B&W) -- Starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe, Jane Darwell & Harry... Read more
Published on April 13 2011 by J. Lovins
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent and still very relevant
Never has so much tragedy been packed into such a brief film (not even 90 minutes in length). Ostensibly a western, this film is an unsettling examination of the nature of mob... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2004 by chefdevergue
"The Ox-Bow Incident" concerns itself with a murder and a lynching - hardly standard Hollywood film fare and probably the primary reason why the film, on its initial... Read more
Published on Dec 7 2003 by Nix Pix
5.0 out of 5 stars More Than A Western
"The Ox-Bow Incident," while a western by genre, is a profound analysis of the social phenomena of lynch mobs. Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2002 by A.Trendl HungarianBookstore.com
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, If Theatrical, Western
I really would have liked to like this movie more than I did. Not that I didn't enjoy it--I thought it had a very good screenplay and three especially good performances from Fonda,... Read more
Published on June 24 2002 by Timothy Morrison
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