Starring: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, & Harry Morgan
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I'm not one for early cinema, as I find most films prior to 1970 to be way over the top. The Ox-Bow had it's fair share of over the top cliche, but it also vividly illustrates a time in American history we don't learn much about. American history is often about the wars and the personalities, simple things like the wild west are left to films known as Westerns. The vast majority of these films tend to tell stories of historic figures, or focus on shoot outs and war, but Ox-bow stands apart, as it shows just how wild the frontier was. Taking place in 1885, the Ox-Bow incident follows the residents of a small town, who decide to take justice into their own hands following the murder of one of their own. Despite warnings from the local judge and sheriff, the towns people form a posse, and search for the men responsible, and they find them in an area known as the Ox-Bow. Once these men are found, the posse is divided and must decide which is the proper method of justice. I don't like Westerns, but I enjoyed the Ox-Bow, because it is just so radically different from every other film of this type and despite the cliches, it gives a real depiction of the problems the government faced when trying to tame the west. The legendary Henry Fonda stars in an era when it was very easy to tell a good actor from a bad one. He was level headed and didn't do things completely over the top, but the same can't be said for the rest of the cast. Perhaps the most interesting thing to see just how much Fonda style stood out and how it still resonates today in the performances of people like George Clooney. The other styles of acting portrayed have long since gone to the waste side, but Fonda's endures, showing that he was good enough to stand the test of time. The Ox-Bow isn't the most exciting film you'll ever see, in fact, many thing just don't make sense, but it still remains one of the defining accounts of the ordinary citizens of the wild west. People are still talking about it 70 years later and I suspect they'll still be talking about 70 years from now as it has to be included in any discussion of early American cinema.