luni, 24 iulie 2017

Note on Apollo 13, directed by Ron Howard, based on the books by Jim Lov...

The Ox- Bow Incident, written by Lamar Trotti and Walter Van Tilburg Clark, based on a novel by the latter, 9 out of 10

The Ox- Bow Incident, written by Lamar Trotti and Walter Van Tilburg Clark, based on a novel by the latter
9 out of 10

Notes and thoughts on other books are available at:


The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the films that you remember for a long time, if not for ever, with its poignant message.
It is included on the New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list:


It was nominated for the Academy award for Best Motion Picture and a few other prestigious prizes, most of which it won.
The director is William A. Wellman, nicknamed Wild Bill for his lifestyle and personality, captain of such films as:

-          Public Enemy and A Star is Born

The star of the western is Henry Fonda, a legend, a superman, demigod of the Screen Trade, the leading actor in:

-          12 Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath, Once Upon a Time in the West, Advise & Consent, On The Golden Pond…

In The Ox-Bow Incident he is playing the role of Gil Carter, one of those people who have a conscience.

He arrives in this small town with his travelling companion, portrayed by Harry Morgan, a familiar actor, present in the M.A.S.H. TV series.

There is humor in the introducing scenes, as Gil Carter tries to figure out a painting on the wall of the saloon.
But pretty soon, an “Incident” is creating a kerfuffle, with the entire small town outraged at the killing of a local farmer.

The sheriff is not in town and this creates a legal problem, because only he can deputize and make a posse legal…
At least that’s how it seemed to me, listening to the judge, who opposed the action of those who wanted “justice”.

You can’t do this without the sheriff and it is illegal- this is what the judge says more or less to the mob assembled.
One of them is very active and angry with what he calls the “very slow motion of justice…which might even let the killer escape”.

They have some information about the route of the “suspects” as they hear a man that has seen the cattle, marked with the sign of the dead man in a pass nearby, with a few people leading them West of the town- or was it East?
The posse is formed and Gil and his friend join it, not as much out of conviction, but because they would be suspicious to do otherwise.

The Conformity principle explained in the masterpiece Influence by Robert Cialdini would explain some of what happens in the film.
People tend to do what others do and some examples refer to extreme cases, such as mass suicide in Guyana, where one after another, hundreds of cult followers killed themselves, to more mundane adoption of big shopping carts.

I think that the same applies to a great extent to a number of those in the posse who were bent on killing.
It is not just conformity, for a number of them were too violent and bloody to think differently, but it was an important factor.

Without any spoilers, I would just say that those who wanted justice found the cattle and the men suspected of murder.
Two of them are played by great actors: Dana Andrews and Anthony Quinn and their personages claim innocence.

The cattle have been bought, there was no violence or crime involved and they have no idea about any shooting.
Because of “circumstantial evidence” or what the “self-appointed jury” sees as such, they condemn the suspects.

Seven men are against this verdict and I will not go any further than that, expect to say that a woman is one of the group that wants executions, no matter what.
Extraordinary tale, with a very powerful message, lessons on life and its meaning, compassion and vengeance…