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Friday, January 23, 2015

Hang 'Em High (1968)

After surviving a lynching in 1880's Oklahoma territory when a group of vigilantes mistake him for a killer, a man (Clint Eastwood) accepts a job as U.S. Marshal with the intent of finding the men who attempted to hang him and bring them to justice. However, he clashes with the federal judge (Pat Hingle in a terrible performance) who has his own ideas of black and white justice. Clint Eastwood had to go to Europe to become an international star which he accomplished by doing Sergio Leone's "man with no name" trilogy. Returning to the U.S., this was his first film as a leading man and he was smart enough not to stray from the formula that made him so popular. There are similarities in style and tone to the Leone films (even Dominic Frontiere's score mimics Ennio Morricone) but the unimaginative direction by Ted Post harms the film and never allows it to soar. Still, it's a tough little western with one marvelous set piece. A lengthy hanging day sequence which the townspeople treat as entertainment that ends with a violent conclusion. With Inger Stevens, Ed Begley, Bruce Dern, Dennis Hopper, Ben Johnson, James MacArthur, Charles McGraw, Ruth White and Arlene Golonka.

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