The Hanging Tree

1959

Western /

7
IMDb Rating 7.2

Synopsis


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23.976 (23976/1000) FPS /
107 min
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23.976 (23976/1000) FPS /
107 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by matchettja 9

Little known, this Western gem has not attracted the attention or appreciation it deserves. Gary Cooper's Doc Frail is to me the most interesting of his Western heroes, much more complex than the Will Kane of "High Noon." He is a man of sharp contrast, kind but domineering, compassionate but unyielding, a healer but a killer, strong but at the same time frail. He draws people towards him, only to keep them at a distance when they get too close because of a tragic incident in his past, one he can neither forget nor allow to ever happen again. He is a vagabond, moving from gold camp to gold camp to set up his services as a doctor, without hope of ever settling down. Into his life come two key figures bound to change it. One is Rune, a young thief whom he rescues from the hanging tree, and they are bonded together. The other is Elizabeth, a young woman from Switzerland who has come with her father to find a new life in the gold camps. After a stagecoach accident, Doc Frail must cure her, both body and spirit, and she loves him for it, a love he cannot accept. He would send her back to her country; she stubbornly refuses and eventually partners in a gold claim with Frenchy (played by the marvelous Karl Malden), a man with lust in his heart for both gold and women. The emphasis on character lifts this film above the realm of the ordinary. Add to that a memorable title song sung by Marty Robbins, an appealing music score by Max Steiner, a no-nonsense script based on a story by Dorothy Johnson and on location filming in the mountains outside of Yakima, Washington, and what you have is one really fine Western.

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Reviewed by jem-93 10

WB claims the negative is in very sorry shape, no word on whether they will spring for a restoration. Odd thing is, though, that WB has a DVD out in Europe, region 2. Perhaps WB has contempt for Europe and has released a shoddy print.<br/><br/>But I agree about this film. One of the best westerns ever made. The auteuristas don&#39;t care for it -- Delmer Daves is not among their favs -- so that may be one reason there isn&#39;t much push for a DVD.<br/><br/>Brilliant cinematography, Max Steiner&#39;s score is one of his finest, tight script, direction is flawless (pax to the auteur theory claque) and the acting -- from Cooper and Schell and Maldin all the way down to the smallest part -- is pitch-perfect.<br/><br/>Alas ...

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Reviewed by Nazi_Fighter_David 7

There was stars and superstars, and then there are the handful by whose success one may understand the nature of the movies&#39; massive appeal to the public... One of these rare people was Gary Cooper, a forever reliable cowboy who remained the strong fairly silent, man of action...<br/><br/>Cooper plays Doc Joe Frail, a frontier doctor running away from a personal tragedy... He now takes his Hippocratic oath with a little gambling and gunfighting in Skull Creek, a wild gold camp in the territory of Montana...<br/><br/>Cooper saves an accused thief from a posse and, after healing the young Rune (Ben Piazza), they become friends... Next the Doc treats a young Swiss girl, Elizatbeth Mahler (Maria Schell), for shock and blindness suffered from exposure to the sun after a stage holdup...<br/><br/>After succeeding in getting her sight back, Elizabeth was already in love with Frail... The doctor tries not to sound his feelings about her... Something was troubling his conscience deeply... He certainly hides a mysterious past...<br/><br/>Frail aids Elizabeth in a grubstake and, with her partners Frenchy and Rune, she soon strikes it rich... Frenchy tries to force his attentions on Elizabeth, but just then Doc Frail rides up...<br/><br/>Karl Malden is excellent as Frenchy, the hypocrite opportunistic, the person without scruples willing to make Elizabeth believes that he cares for her, and is after her love, not after her gold... Malden is very good as a supporting actor... He proved it in &quot;The Gunfighter,&quot; with Gregory Peck, in &quot;One-Eyed Jacks,&quot; with Marlon Brando, and in &quot;Nevada Smith,&quot; with Steve McQueen...<br/><br/>In his film debut, George C. Scott portrays the poisonous bible-punching drunk who incites and excites the whole town to carry Cooper to the hanging tree...<br/><br/>Jerry Livingston&#39;s Title Song won an Academy Award Nomination...

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