Hang 'em High (1968)
Marshall Jed Cooper survives a hanging, vowing revenge on the lynch mob that left him dangling. To carry out his oath for vengeance, he returns to his former job as a lawman. Before long, he's caught up with the nine men on his hit list and starts dispensing his own brand of Wild West justice.
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Nicely done and good entertainment. I like when a movie starts-up and gets right to the point. We are not disappointed here and quite frankly not surprised either. Cattle rustling was a serious crime along with stealing horses as life was hard and people who chose the easy (and wrong) way out were severely punished. This movie makes that point. We are also treated to a nice dose of comeuppance where the supposed good guys get a bad guys return on some faulty rash thinking. Clint is at his best in helping us believe what a ordinary decent person would do or not do. Westerns tell a unique stories of hard life that led to the creation of our towns, cities and laws we have today. The stories are without end and remind us of how anything worth having requires our participation which serves as part of the reward or return. It didn't take much money to live on but it took discipline and consistency to make a life for ones self. Also note that the many who chose to prey on others instead of working for their own could only be stopped with the threat of death or death itself. Hanging was the lesson at large to teach the population not to do certain things or this is how it would end. That's why kids, women and fathers/men attended these living lessons on how to behave or else for their educational value too. Good movie to snack on with a tasty drink. This Western goes down smooth
**SPOILERS** Great movie. Set the stage for a run of really good westerns starring Eastwood as a hard bitten, cynical survivor type, who's "Been There; Done That".Just a small point about this story, though. Besides Reno, who stole his saddle, they didn't have much on anybody. Sure, they TRIED to kill Cooper by lynching, but he survived. It would have wrecked the storyline, but, he shoulda took the bribe. If his case ever got to court, a good lawyer woulda got 'em off.
Another Clint Eastwood western and another outing that offers a rather good time. This 1968 western is nowhere near classics like Leone's Dollars trilogy, but it's nevertheless a well-made, well-acted picture. The film starts off confusing, lacking much in terms of depth, but once it progresses it's much better with some terrific sequences involving one where Eastwood walks into a bar and finds one of the men who tried to wrongly hang him, and the brilliance within that scene is most exciting. There's some solid dialogue, impressive direction from Ted Post and some good writing, as well as nice cinematography. The picture also has some really good performances; Eastwood is terrific as usual as Jed Cooper, Pat Hingle is a strong presence as no nonsense judge Fenton and Ed Begley is an impressive villain, playing Captain Wilson. One performance that doesn't work is Inger Stevens who play's Rachael Warren, a weird, expressionless woman who consistently stairs at all the men who are to be put to death, and she simply wasn't very compelling, and rather unnecessary here.There are parts that are a bit harsh, showing detailed hangings, lingering on the moment too much, some of these men didn't even murder or rape anyone, so seeing them go on and on with one of these scenes was a mistake, and during that scene there was a lecture about God from one of the doomed men, who annoyed the hell out of me, I was anticipating someone to shut him up already. After that the picture gets back on track yet again with some really good, slow building sequences, one in the dead of night and one somewhere before that. I also enjoyed the chemistry between Hingle and Eastwood, there scenes together was very entertaining, where they disagree with one another and even something simple as a discussion radiates the screen. However the film has a lame love story that thankfully doesn't last long between Jed and Rachael, because it was slow, boring and took me away from the main storyline, it's another five or ten minutes that could have been changed. Overall though Hang Em High may have its flaws, but it showcases two great performances from Eastwood and Hingle, Solid direction from Ted Post and some truly exciting moments that fans of the genre will surely enjoy.
Hang 'Em High proves to be one Western too many for Clint Eastwood. After the success of the Dollars trilogy he jumps back into the genre with a movie which thoroughly disappoints. This is a slow, dull, quite tedious film. Not much interesting happens. Honestly not much of anything happens. Drama and excitement are in desperately short supply. The big action sequences you expect from such a film never arrive. The characters are not compelling, the story is paper-thin and the supposed climax is totally anticlimactic. Very hard to find anything good to say about this one.In this film Eastwood's character actually has a name. He's Jed Cooper and soon after we meet him Jed finds himself swinging from a tree with a rope around his neck. A posse, thinking him to be a cattle rustler and a murderer, hangs him. They do a rather lousy job of it. A federal Marshal shows up, cuts down the still very much alive Cooper and brings him before a judge. This judge likes to hang pretty much anyone brought before him but he realizes Cooper's innocence and actually makes Cooper a Marshal. And from there things go about as you would expect, Cooper hunting down the men who lynched him, seeking vengeance. Sounds like it could be interesting but it doesn't turn out that way. The fact the bad guys are such bumbling, bungling idiots doesn't help. Given another chance to kill Cooper they fail even more miserably than the first time. They really are quite pathetic. If you can't take the bad guys seriously it's near impossible for this type of movie to succeed. And that's the case here. The film's central conflict is a letdown. And there's nothing else to prop the film up. A tepid love story falls completely flat. The hanging scenes (and with this judge in town there are plenty of opportunities for hanging scenes) are interminable. Eastwood is reasonably decent in his role but no other performer really makes a mark. Some, most notably Ed Begley as the lead bad guy, miss the mark entirely. Getting through this film is really a chore. There's no suspense, the drama drains away all too quickly. This is not a good film. In fact it's quite bad. You might even call it ugly.