William Wellman kept his eyes on the prize to make great western The Ox-Bow Incident, promising two more films to Darryl Zanuck, sidestepping a producer who wanted to shoehorn Mae West into the cast (!), and eventually buying the rights to the book himself.
His dogged perseverance paid off with one of the most quietly powerful western stories ever committed to film. Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan stop at a saloon and get mixed up in a posse when word comes that a rancher has been murdered.
A deputy (Frank Conroy) organizes a lynch mob, and finds a suspicious trio of outsiders, including wanted criminal Anthony Quinn. The mob gives the men time to write letters, recaptures Quinn after an attempted escape and then strings up the strangers despite Fonda’s pleas for justice. When the posse gets back to town, they learn of the enormity of their actions.
Francis Ford, who plays the eldest victim of the lynch mob, was an older brother of director John Ford. Francis was a prominent actor-director in the silent period, but his career foundered with the coming of sound.
Academy Award nomination: Best Picture.
Cast: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Matt Briggs, Frank Conroy, Jane Darwell, Harry Davenport, William Eythe, Mary Beth Hughes, Harry Morgan, Anthony Quinn
Director: William A. Wellman
Producer: Lamar Trotti
Original Story: Walter Van Tilburg Clark
Director of Photography: Arthur Miller
Editor: Allen McNeil
Composer: Cyril J. Mockridge
Screenwriter: Lamar Trotti
Production Designer: James Basevi
Art Director: Richard Day
USA / Twentieth Century Fox / 75 minutes / 1943 black and white