News: Having trouble registering?  Please feel free to contact us at help[at]clinteastwood.org.  We will help you get an account set up.


0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this board.
« previous next »
Pages: [1] Go Down Print
Author Topic: Hang' Em High is highly underrated...  (Read 849 times)
Moorman
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 11


View Profile Email
« on: July 13, 2018, 02:59:34 PM »

This film is hardly ever mentioned when people talk about great Eastwood westerns.  I think its one of his best.  I would rank this in his top 5 westerns.  Two things stick out about this film.  First,  the whole premise of this film was off the charts.  Eastwood's character is hung western style without a jury because of circumstantial evidence.  I'm almost positive that Eastwood got the idea for this script because of his love for The Oxbow Incident, which he said is his favorite western.  Clint basically did The Oxbow Incident but gave the victim in this case,  justice by the victim being rescued and allowed to avenge the hanging.  Its a superb twist he did and it turned into a great film.  It should be held in just about the same esteem as High Plains Drifter.   They are pretty close in my opinion...
Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31531


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #1 on: July 14, 2018, 07:46:53 AM »

The script wasn't an idea of Clint's. Leonard Freeman wrote it, and it was brought to Clint's attention by his business manager, Irving Leonard. However, Clint did turn down a role in a much larger-scale production, Mackenna's Gold, in favor of this project, because the themes appealed to him and (he thought) it challenged him as an actor. From Richard Schickel's Clint Eastwood (page 186):

Quote
When he read [the script] Clint found in it a "certain feeling about injustice and capital punishment" that he responded to. He also thought the leading role, that of Jed Cooper, a lawman seeking private vengeance while serving a hanging judge who takes a peculiar pleasure in his work, offered him opportunities as an actor that he had not had in the Leone films. Here he would not be, as he puts it, 'a symbol,' but rather a troubled figure, questioning both his own motives and those of the system he served. "I felt it was time," he says, "even though it was a smaller film, to go ahead and challenge myself in that way."

Clint's feelings for the film perhaps ran a little more deeply than that. For it took up and extended the main theme of a favorite picture of his, The Ox-Bow Incident, which through its story of men wrongly accused of, and hung for, cattle rustling expresses, in its way, one of the themes of his inner life, his abhorrence of false witness, false accus (it is why erroneous tabloid reports of his doings constantly evoke his outraged litigiousness). The film would also permit him to explore again the resurrection theme adumbrated in A Fistful of Dollars, and returned to in so many later films.

So, Moorman, thank you for an excellent post. I too enjoy this film, I believe more than many of my fellow Eastwood fans, for some of the reasons outlined above. Also, it has an ambiguous ending, and Clint's character does not complete his mission of vengeance, and in one case tempers it with mercy. Altogether, a much more interesting film than many give it credit for.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2018, 07:48:21 AM by KC » Logged
Moorman
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 11


View Profile Email
« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2018, 10:39:11 AM »

The script wasn't an idea of Clint's. Leonard Freeman wrote it, and it was brought to Clint's attention by his business manager, Irving Leonard. However, Clint did turn down a role in a much larger-scale production, Mackenna's Gold, in favor of this project, because the themes appealed to him and (he thought) it challenged him as an actor. From Richard Schickel's Clint Eastwood (page 186):

So, Moorman, thank you for an excellent post. I too enjoy this film, I believe more than many of my fellow Eastwood fans, for some of the reasons outlined above. Also, it has an ambiguous ending, and Clint's character does not complete his mission of vengeance, and in one case tempers it with mercy. Altogether, a much more interesting film than many give it credit for.

Yes, Freeman wrote it but Clint jumped at the chance to do it because of his affinity for The Oxbow Incident.  He looked at Hang' Em High as a continuation of the main theme of The Oxbow Incident.  That fact is mentioned in numerous places including Eastwood's biography.  Maybe Leonard KNEW Clint loved the earlier film and wrote it for that reason?  Who knows but the fact remains that Clint wanted to do the film because of it.

« Last Edit: July 14, 2018, 10:42:06 AM by Moorman » Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31531


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2018, 05:29:57 PM »

Yes, very good points. Clint's liking for The Ox-Bow Incident is very well known.

How would you rank this film among Clint's ten Westerns?
Logged
Moorman
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 11


View Profile Email
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2018, 05:35:45 PM »

Yes, very good points. Clint's liking for The Ox-Bow Incident is very well known.

How would you rank this film among Clint's ten Westerns?

I rank Hang' Em High at about 5th.  Only The Good,  the Bad, and the Ugly, For a Few Dollars More, High Plains Drifter and Unforgiven rank higher in my opinion...
Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31531


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2018, 08:07:55 PM »

I think I would put it above the other non-Clint directed westerns, except for the Leones ... that is, higher than Joe Kidd or Two Mules for Sister Sara. That would put it at eighth. But that is higher than a lot of Eastwood fans place it.

That's just based on overall "feeling." Truth is, I'd rather re-watch it than a few of the others that I "know" are better films.
Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31531


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2018, 08:28:54 PM »

Moorman, you might be interested in some of the earlier discussions we've had on this Board about Hang 'em High. It's a pity the board has been so slow lately, and a lot of these good Eastwood fans don't come around any more.

We used to have "Formal Film DIscussions" where the Moderators would pose a number of (mostly) standard questions about specific films, and members would post their opinions. These were broken up into separate threads for each question, and the threads were closed afterwards so as to keep them in order. The discussion for Hang 'em High starts here:

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?board=16.540

If you see anything there that you'd like to discuss further, please feel free to quote it in this thread. This is an especially insightful post by Matt, comparing Hang 'em High and Unforgiven:

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?topic=487.msg8754#msg8754

We also used to have "Movie Nights," where as many members as could join us at a given time would watch a film together and chat about it. The "Movie Night" thread for Hang 'em High is here:

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?topic=8068.0
Logged
AKA23
Classic Member
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2755



View Profile Email
« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2018, 06:06:02 PM »

I think I'd rank it the same as you, KC.

I'm wondering Moorman, why would you rank it higher than "Pale Rider" or "The Outlaw Josey Wales?" What is it that Hang 'Em High offers that makes it superior to those two to you?
Logged
Moorman
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 11


View Profile Email
« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2018, 06:06:26 PM »

I think I would put it above the other non-Clint directed westerns, except for the Leones ... that is, higher than Joe Kidd or Two Mules for Sister Sara. That would put it at eighth. But that is higher than a lot of Eastwood fans place it.

That's just based on overall "feeling." Truth is, I'd rather re-watch it than a few of the others that I "know" are better films.

Thats a fair ranking.  Pale Rider is pretty good also but I still rank Hang' Em high above that one also.
Logged
Moorman
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 11


View Profile Email
« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2018, 06:18:13 PM »

I think I'd rank it the same as you, KC.

I'm wondering Moorman, why would you rank it higher than "Pale Rider" or "The Outlaw Josey Wales?" What is it that Hang 'Em High offers that makes it superior to those two to you?

Good question.  I rank it higher than Pale Rider because it FEELS shorter and more fitting to Clint's style he developed with Leone.  Pale Rider also has some dull moments in it to me, specifically the scenes where he is courting Sarah. It seemed to drag the film.  Hang' Em had more action.  Now, my take on The Outlaw Josey Wales.  I don't particularly like it for the same reason that I don't like parts of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.  First, I don't like Westerns that are mixed with the Civil War.  Second, both films felt too long also.  Hang'Em High felt more like the first two Dollars Films.  In fact, you could call it a American Spaghetti Western.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2018, 06:26:17 PM by Moorman » Logged
Moorman
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 11


View Profile Email
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2018, 06:24:50 PM »

Moorman, you might be interested in some of the earlier discussions we've had on this Board about Hang 'em High. It's a pity the board has been so slow lately, and a lot of these good Eastwood fans don't come around any more.

We used to have "Formal Film DIscussions" where the Moderators would pose a number of (mostly) standard questions about specific films, and members would post their opinions. These were broken up into separate threads for each question, and the threads were closed afterwards so as to keep them in order. The discussion for Hang 'em High starts here:

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?board=16.540

If you see anything there that you'd like to discuss further, please feel free to quote it in this thread. This is an especially insightful post by Matt, comparing Hang 'em High and Unforgiven:

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?topic=487.msg8754#msg8754

We also used to have "Movie Nights," where as many members as could join us at a given time would watch a film together and chat about it. The "Movie Night" thread for Hang 'em High is here:

http://www.clinteastwood.org/forums/index.php?topic=8068.0

I'm gonna rewatch it sometime in the next few days and make comments that fit the threads above...
Logged
AKA23
Classic Member
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 2755



View Profile Email
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2018, 07:12:32 PM »

Good question.  I rank it higher than Pale Rider because it FEELS shorter and more fitting to Clint's style he developed with Leone.  Pale Rider also has some dull moments in it to me, specifically the scenes where he is courting Sarah. It seemed to drag the film.  Hang' Em had more action.  Now, my take on The Outlaw Josey Wales.  I don't particularly like it for the same reason that I don't like parts of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.  First, I don't like Westerns that are mixed with the Civil War.  Second, both films felt too long also.  Hang'Em High felt more like the first two Dollars Films.  In fact, you could call it a American Spaghetti Western.

It's interesting that "Pale Rider" feels longer to you than "Hang Em High" because they are almost exactly the same length. Only one minute separates the two. Feeling longer is different than actually being longer, of course, but I was surprised when I saw how close the runtimes were.

While "Pale Rider" is in my top 10 Eastwood movies, I agree with you on the Sarah subplot. I would have likely gotten rid of it. I don't think it really adds much to the film and I think a case can be made that it actually undermines the inherent goodness that Preacher as a character embodies since it is out of character for a man of the cloth to actively court another man's woman. Although I like the scene, it was also quite unbelievable, at least to me, that a teenager like Megan would be madly in love with someone like Preacher because he was decades older than her and I may have also gotten rid of that subplot. However, I think it was included because in some ways, unlike the subplot with Sarah, Megan's story actually served  to bolster the inherent goodness of his character because it showed that he possessed enough moral character, judgment and wisdom to turn her away and demonstrate that he knew that taking advantage of a vulnerable, naive and confused teenager wouldn't be the right thing to do. One of the  things that does make Preacher such an interesting character to me is that in so many ways, he embodies both the lightness and the darkness within the soul of humanity. To me, that makes him a very interesting, and very Eastwoodian, character. Would you agree Moorman, or do you see things differently?

I'd love to learn more about why you characterize "Hang Em High" as an American spaghetti western. I've never really heard that before and would love to learn what you mean by that and what about the movie leads you to come to that conclusion.
Logged
Matt
Global Moderator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 14194



View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2018, 08:48:05 PM »

Just chiming in that I really like Hang 'em High, but the lighting is unnatural (especially in that picnic scene), and I'm not a fan at all of Inger Stevens' performance or the romance aspects of Hang 'em High. It was the first Eastwood film I'd ever seen, and it led me to life-long fandom.  But, to me, Pale Rider, is the better film, and the better looking film (lighting, directing, wardrobe, locations, etc.).
Logged
Perry
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 905


I'm a llama!


View Profile Email
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2018, 01:25:32 PM »


A lot of great actors (Pat Hingle, Ed Begley) as well as character actors ( Ben Johnson, Charles McGraw) to name a few in that movie. Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper as well. Plus the yummy Inger Stevens as well......Good flick.
Logged
Hocine
Jr. Member
**
Offline Offline

Posts: 65


View Profile Email
« Reply #14 on: July 23, 2018, 01:46:31 PM »

Hang'em High is one of the first Clint Eastwood films I have seen. And I still like it.
This is the first American picture in which Clint has the leading role and the first Malpaso Company production.
Indeed, Malpaso was founded in 1967.
Clint turned down Mackenna's Gold and Once Upon a Time in the West both and made Hang'em High instead.
Hang'em High is a smaller picture but focused on characters and story.
Moreover, it develops many subjects like vigilantism, justice, death penalty and violence in American society.
Of course, Clint Eastwood admired movies like William Wellman's The Oxbow Incident.
The opening scene is interesting because it shows us how Clint went from Rawhide to the Man with No Name.
At first, Jed Cooper with his clothes and his cattle looks like Rowdy Yates.
He also seems too naive like Rowdy. Remember when he asked the horsemen: " What is this all about ? "
After having been hung and rescued, Jed Cooper is more the Man with No Name than Rowdy Yates.
Symbolically, it's as if Rowdy Yates was killed by hanging. The Man with No Name came to life when Jed Cooper was rescued.
When Clint did Hang'em High, Hollywood still considered him as a TV actor who went to Europe making three successful pictures.
He was a rising star but not a superstar yet.
Hang'em High is a transition film for Clint like Coogan's Bluff, Where Eagles Dare, Paint Your Wagon, Two Mules for Sister Sara and Kelly's Heroes.
I think that The Beguiled, Play Misty for Me and Dirty Harry marked a new departure in Clint Eastwood's career.
Maybe that's why Hang'em High is a little bit forgotten today.
When you see most of documentaries on Clint's career, they talk about Rawhide, The Sergio Leone movies, The Beguiled, Play Misty for Me, Dirty Harry, The Outlaw Josey Wales, Every Which Way but Loose, Bronco Billy, Honkytonk Man, Tightrope, Pale Rider, Heartbreak Ridge, Bird, White Hunter Black Heart, Unforgiven, A Perfect World, The Bridges of Madison County, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, the Iwo Jima pictures, Gran Torino because they are more pivotal in Clint Eastwood career. Maybe they talk more about the Warner Bros movies too.That's possible.
In my opinion, the westerns directed by Clint and the Man with No Name trilogy are the best ones, artistically speaking.
Hang'em High, Two Mules for Sister Sara and Joe Kidd are transition pictures, even Hang'em High is the best of these three last films.
Logged
KC
Administrator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 31531


Control ...


View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2018, 05:29:38 PM »

Quote
Symbolically, it's as if Rowdy Yates was killed by hanging. The Man with No Name came to life when Jed Cooper was rescued.
Very nice observation, Hocine!
Logged
Kayley
Newbie
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 18


View Profile Email
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2018, 02:23:14 AM »

The opening scene is interesting because it shows us how Clint went from Rawhide to the Man with No Name.
At first, Jed Cooper with his clothes and his cattle looks like Rowdy Yates.
He also seems too naive like Rowdy. Remember when he asked the horsemen: " What is this all about ? "
After having been hung and rescued, Jed Cooper is more the Man with No Name than Rowdy Yates.
Symbolically, it's as if Rowdy Yates was killed by hanging. The Man with No Name came to life when Jed Cooper was rescued.

I love your idea on this. And I see where it comes from. Very nice thinking and good insight.
Of course, it is open for interpretation if Clint Eastwood actually did harbor these thoughts while filming, but, knowing his ways of doing things, I guess there is a good chance that he did.
Logged

It's a hell of a thing, killing a man....
Perry
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 905


I'm a llama!


View Profile Email
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2018, 01:03:12 PM »



Would had worked better if Eli Wallach was one of the henchmen........
Logged
bdc28
Classic Member
Sr. Member
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 306



View Profile Email
« Reply #18 on: September 27, 2018, 09:08:04 AM »

You know, when I read this thread my first thought was "Hang em high? Whatever!!" I really in my mind dismissed it, initially.

But when I REMEMBERED how impacting the movie was, I had to take a breath and respond to this.

As far as western movies go, Hang em High was a top five movie of ALL of them, even if I don't rate it a top five of Clint Eastwood westerns.

It humanized capital punishment, which was a scary thing. It is easy when you believe bad guys get what they deserve, its different when you hear someone whimpering in fear because the hood has been put over their head by the hangman.

Or the scene where the brother says goodbye to the other one before they are hung...JESUS that still gives me chills.


Thats regarding the message of the movie, getting into the gristle of the movie is a seperate critique.

This was really Clints first walk away from the "Man with no name" type character he was used to playing, and it was a little awkward for me seeing him that way. Clean shaven, highly moraled, non ambiguous. I didnt really think it was a character he was made to play. Quite a bit of his western personas arent about what you see, or what he says, its about what you DONT see and what he DOESNT say.
All of that to basically say, I wasnt really comfortable with Clint being the "white hat" good guy, even if he did play it well for the movie, it wasnt really..."him"...at least to me.


For me this movie was made by an outstanding supporting cast that took away the notion that you were watching Clint out of his element...and it was very well cast.


The storyline in itself is worth praise, high praise. That frontier justice was often very cruel and unjust, and that good people died at the hands of a madman judge, like real life judge Roy Bean who was called "The hanging judge" because that was his solution to everything, no matter how slight or small the infraction.


Clear message, challenging premise, moral dilemma, strong cast....definitely a GRADE A western, above many, IMO.
Logged

"I once shot an elephant in my pajamas. What he was doing wearing my pajamas I have no idea..."
Matt
Global Moderator
Member Extraordinaire
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 14194



View Profile WWW Email
« Reply #19 on: September 27, 2018, 09:59:22 AM »



This was really Clints first walk away from the "Man with no name" type character he was used to playing, and it was a little awkward for me seeing him that way. Clean shaven, highly moraled, non ambiguous. I didnt really think it was a character he was made to play. Quite a bit of his western personas arent about what you see, or what he says, its about what you DONT see and what he DOESNT say.
All of that to basically say, I wasnt really comfortable with Clint being the "white hat" good guy, even if he did play it well for the movie, it wasnt really..."him"...at least to me.


But don't forget -- he pulls a Dirty Harry three years early by throwing his star away because "the law's crazy" (Dirty Harry quote).  We've compared how Coogan's Bluff is a pre-Harry Callahan film, but even in his first appearance as a law man, Clint was already pushing the bounds of the problems with the justice system.  So he was never the clean cut "white hat" good guy. 
Logged
Pages: [1] Go Up Print 
 




C L I N T E A S T W O O D . N E T