Yesterday I tweeted about the Ox Bow Incident. A couple of days prior I had been on the phone with my brother – we started out by discussing our reactions to the latest installment of True Blood. At some point, the conversation moved to Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven (1992); how we got there I cannot tell you. My brother was marvelling at the allegory conveyed in this modern masterpiece. In his estimation this was a film that broke the standard conventions of what people traditionally think about the “wild” West; especially its mythic standing portrayed over the years on the silver screen.
It was at this moment that I took the opportunity to tell him, that while I am no expert on the genre, throughout cinematic history, turning the myth of the American West on its head is not totally a new idea. I first started talking about The Searchers (1956), but soon moved on to my favorite Western, 1943’s The Ox Bow Incident. It is a very intimate film, not something one finds in a traditional Western. Based on a novel of the same name, it is a moving story of what happens when one’s conscience yields to mob rule and the actions that mob (posse) fly in the face of reason, logic and justice.
I do not want to reveal the details of the plot because I want you to experience the film as I did – a lovely wonderful surprise on a random weekend afternoon. I assure you if you have not seen it, it will leave you thoroughly satisfied.
*The Ox Bow Incident is playing Sunday, September 5, 2010 (12:00 Noon) at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.