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Author Topic: HANG 'EM HIGH: The Story: 2. Hang 'em High and Eastwood's Future Films  (Read 2966 times)
mgk
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« on: February 16, 2003, 10:42:00 PM »

List the similarities between Hang 'em High and Eastwood's future films,  Unforgiven in particular. How is the character of Jed like other Eastwood heroes, especially in the Westerns?

« Last Edit: February 16, 2003, 10:46:02 PM by mgk » Logged
Matt
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« Reply #1 on: March 18, 2003, 07:01:47 PM »

The main theme seems to be the same in both films... a crime is commited and when there's no justice, the victim settles for vengeance.  There's a need for blood-shed to right the wrongs-- it's in every subplot in Hang 'em High (Jed's hanging, Rachel's rape and husband's murder, and the murder of the father and son by Miller) but can the wrongs ever be righted?  Maybe "deserve's got nothin' to do with it", or as Jed would say after he was shot by Captain Wilson, Loomis and Tommy:  "God's got nothin' to do with it."

Little Bill and Fenton are the authority figures in the film and although Fenton has a court of law that he precides over and Little Bill doesn't, they both dispense the punishments in the town, and there's no court of appeals to oversee their decisions.  Both feel that their brand of justice, though swift and sometimes severe, is fair.  There are also many differences between the characters, these are discussed in more detail in the thread on Judge Fenton HERE.

In Ft. Grant, Jed is shot nearly to death and is nursed back to health thanks to the love, commitment and tender care of a woman who has suffered trauma of her own.  We'll see this scenario again in Unforgiven with Munny and Delilah.

Both films show that there isn't a clear line between good and evil.  This comes up in Cooper and Fenton's first scene together:

Quote
FENTON:  You're free to go.

COOPER:  With my eleven dollars and forty cents?

FENTON:  And the satisfaction of seeing the man that got you into this mess hung.

COOPER:  And what about the nine "just" men who hung me?

There are scenes in both films where someone regrets their misdeeds and is forced to face the consequences of their acts.  Jenkins is genuinely sorry to have had a part in Cooper's hanging; in Unforgiven, The Kid, Will and Ned all face the murders they've commited with the same sorrow, shame and sense of guilt.  There's a scene in Hang 'em High where Tommy and Loomis sadly ponder what will come of them if they have to go to jail for the hanging, but unlike Jenkins... their sorrow is placed only on themselves.  They don't seem to care about their victim.

I've often thought that Cooper questions his own motives when he's pursuing the men who hanged him... this is another quality that Cooper and Munny share.

Ben and Billy Joe in Hang 'em High, like Davy in Unforgiven, were in the wrong place at the wrong time, got caught up with the wrong folk, and wound up paying for it with their lives.  They're both sympathetic figures in the film; young and earnest men who you know wouldn't be a threat to society but wind up paying the same price that the most cold-hearted murderer would pay.

There might be other similarities that I've missed.  Anyone have any they can add?

« Last Edit: March 18, 2003, 07:05:11 PM by Matt » Logged
Matt
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« Reply #2 on: March 30, 2003, 08:52:29 PM »

This thread is now locked.  Please post any additional thoughts you have on this topic in the Westerns forum.
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