THE OX-BOW INCIDENT (1943) B/W 75m dir: William A. Wellman
w/Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe, Harry Morgan, Jane Darwell, Matt Briggs, Harry Davenport, Frank Conroy, Francis Ford
A powerful, relentless anti-lynching drama with strong performances, especially from Fonda as a cowboy with a conscience. Written by Lamar Trotti, from the novel by Walter Van Tilberg Clark.
From The Movie Guide: "The finest indictment of lynching ever made, and we're not forgetting [Mervyn] LeRoy's THEY WON'T FORGET or [Fritz] Lang's FURY either. THE OX-BOW INCIDENT is a powerful portrait of mob violence that rises to the level of tragedy. ...
"Fonda gives a compassionate performance; good work is also done by Darwell, Davenport, Hurst [?], and Conroy. Quinn only has a small role as one of the victims, but he is terrific as the indignant lynch candidate who is about to be hanged, not for past crimes, but for something he did not do. Wellman's direction of this superb cast is nothing less than awesome; he coaxes subtle performances from some of his players, properly bombastic renderings from others. In keeping with its somber subject matter, the whole film has a gritty, worn-out look, right down to the threadbare costumes on the actors. Much of the credit for the film's tone is due to [Arthur] Miller's outstanding photography, supported by a downbeat score from [Cyril J.] Mockridge. Although scenes at the beginning and end of the film offer realistic-looking western exteriors, Wellman insisted that the bulk of the film be shot on a set with painted backdrops, mostly since the bulk of the story occurs at night. On the set he could better control the nuances of lighting he wanted. Some critics complained about the 'claustrophobic' look and feel of the picture because of its set-bound image, but it is exactly that atmosphere that helps to create the mood of pervasive doom and maniacal intent of the two dozen 'average citizens' to commit a capital crime."
Nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture.