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Hang ‘Em High (1968)

Duration1h 54m
RatingsUK: 18, USA: PG-13, Spain: 18
Source of storyAn original screenplay, loosely based on American history.
DirectorTed Post
Writers/ScriptLeonard Freeman, Mel Goldberg
StarringClint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley, Pat Hingle, Ben Johnson, Bruce Dern, Arlene Golonka, Dennis Hopper, L.Q. Jones, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.0 by 34,561 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 92% by 13 critics.

Elevator Pitch: Jed Cooper is a former lawman now rancher who has bought some cattle, unknowingly from a rustler. As a result he is accused of murder and lynched, but fortunately is cut down by a marshall who is taking miscreants back to Fort Grant. The judge there accepts Cooper’s story and enrols him as a marshall, allowing him to chase down the men who hanged him. Cooper mostly achieves his objective, although objects to the summary judgements administered by Judge  Fenton. He is also shot but survives to conclude his grizzly business.

Content: The is no nudity, although Cooper spends time in bed with a prostitute, so sex is implied. He is lynched in the first scene on the banks of the Poteau River. Then taken in a horse drawn cage back to the city and briefly incarcerated in the cell complex. He has a number of meetings with the judge in his office. Central to the whole film is the gibbet with half a dozen nooses on it and a complex means of operation. People are hanged! (For those who have difficulty with this verb, being hung is one thing, being hanged is another). This is all pretty graphic. Once he is a marshall, Cooper is dressed in black with a flat brimmed hat and a grim expression.

A View: This film was very well thought of, possibly due to its more realistic approach to “the Western” after Eastwood’s previous outings, but in some ways I thought it was in less honest territory. The black marshall’s clothing made him a sort of super person, and the editing had him staring grimly into the middle distance quite  bit. Despite the general approval I would place it low on my list of Clint Eastwood favourites, so maybe a watch for nothing. 

Additional Info: This is the first Malpaso production, which allowed Eastwood to get his own cast together, many of whom had appeared in Rawhide with him.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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