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Author Topic: Hang' Em High is highly underrated...  (Read 53 times)
Moorman
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« 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...
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KC
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« 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):

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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
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« 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
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« 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?
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Moorman
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« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 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...
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KC
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« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 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.
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KC
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« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 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
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