What do you care about justice?
You don’t even care whether you’ve got the right men or not.
All you know is you’ve lost something
and somebody’s got to be punished.
Starring Henry Fonda and with Anthony Quinn in an early major role The Ox-Bow Incident is a film about mob justice in the old west where two men return to the town Bridger’s Wells at a time when cattle rustlers have just murdered cattle owner and much liked local Larry Kinkaid.
This event causes the townsfolk to go out for revenge and quickly they form a lynch mob with only a few dissenting voices pleading for justice instead.
The mob then quickly try to legitimise themselves as a posse so to make what they do acceptable within the law.
But things aren’t as by the book and the objectors can see through what the mob is doing.
The first 3 men they come across are immediately presumed guilty and ready to be hanged without trial so what we witness next is the desperate attempts by the 3 men and one of the townsfolk to delay the lynching until the Sheriff can arrive and give them a fair trial.
The forming of the mob and especially when they capture the 3 suspects is played out in a way that reminded me of another Henry fonda film the excellent 12 Angry Men (1957) with the majority already decided and while it isn’t a lone voice against them it is less than a handful trying to use reason and logic against anger and a thirst for revenge regardless the cost.
On the Blu-ray is a 12 minute intro by film professor Peter Stanfield who details the state of American cinemas at the time as well as the decline of westerns.
Filled with B-westerns and singing cowboys and the need to appease independent theatres they started making westerns to appeal to adults filling the films with more adult content and The Ox-Bow Incident definitely meets this need.
I was surprised at how mature this film is. How it handled it’s themes. The cast is fantastic giving great performances and has a well thought out script to also back it up.
I can honestly say I have never seen a cowboy film like this one.
Don’t expect horse chases and shootouts but an excellently crafted drama in the rare setting of the wild west for themes such as these. It still feels like a western only a grown up one.
On the Blu-ray I watched from Arrow the 4K digital restoration is what I’ve come to expect from this company.
Crisp and almost flawless picture with very clear audio.
As well as the intro I mentioned is a 40 minute documentary of the life of Henry Fonda that gives some insight into why this film was important to him.
All I can say is if you are a fan of westerns or Henry Fonda then this is a must.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- New 4K digital restoration by Twentieth Century Fox
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
- Uncompressed Mono 1.0 PCM Audio
- Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Audio commentary by American West historian Dick Etulain and William Wellman Jr
- Introduction by Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail andHorse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy
- Scene-select commentaries by Stanfield
- Henry Fonda: Hollywood’s Quiet Hero, a 45-minute documentary on the actor from the Biography series
- Stills gallery
- Theatrical trailer
- Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Vladimir Zimakov
- Fully illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing by Nick Pinkerton