Hang 'em High Reviews
Clint stars as Jed Cooper- an ex-lawman turned rancher who is wrongfully accused of theft and murder by a corrupt posse. They beat him, and lynch him from a tree, but they don't do a good enough job, and he miraculously survives.
After a period of recovery, he is recruited to be a deputy marshal by the local judge who pardons him of his supposed crimes. He is urged to not seek vengeance against those who wronged him, but that proves easier said than done...
In a lot of ways, this is basically just a typical exploitation revenge kind of plot, with a toned down spaghetti western feel to it. The film kinda takes a look at the consequences of vengeance, but not as much as later Eastwood films. It adds a touch of depth to the proceedings, but in the end, this is basically just a straight up western drama.
I dug it. I mean, Ted Post is no Leone, but he's a decent enough director, and gets the job done here fairly reasonably. The film has a pretty good look about it, dry, dusty, and gritty, and it's pretty fitting given the subject matter. Clint does his thing, and delivers a typically solid performance, and gets in a few more words than his most famous character ever did. Pat Hingle is pretty good as the Judge who pardons then deputizes Jed, and it's fun seeing those two go head to head with one another concerning legal matters.
All in all, this is a decent film, and it's done well, despite the fact that it's nothing new, innovative, or revolutionary. If all you want is a solid violence driven action western, then sure, give this a look.
Hang 'Em High is about an innocent rancher and ex-lawman named Jed Cooper (Clint Eastwood) who is moving a small herd of cattle, but a group of nine men ride up to him and accuse him of killing the original owner of the cattle and stealing them. Jed tries to defend himself from the accusations, but the men refuse to believe him, and attempt to lynch him. Jed survives the lynching, and a marshal finds him, giving him the opportunity to serve the law and to attempt to bring the men who lynched him to justice. The plot focuses not only on Jed's revenge on the men, but also on the importance of law and order. Clint Eastwood is as cool as ever, and instead of playing a vigilante, he's a sort of anti-vigilante. He's still tough, but his role is more sensitive than his previous western roles, considering he takes the more lawful approach at ending crime. The rest of the cast is fine as well, although some of the acting is bad. A few scenes that come to mind are when people are getting beaten up, but the fights seem very awkward and fake, which was common in lots of movies around this time. The scenery is nice, and the main theme song by Dominic Frontiere is terrific. However, everything besides that is pretty dull and mediocre, and the way the story is told is too sloppy to care about what's really going on.
It's definitely a different western than lots of the westerns being released at the time, focusing a lot on the law and justice, but the pacing is bad and the significance of characters is questionable. The ending is bad, with a very anticlimactic confrontation and an abrupt conclusion to the story. It really left more to be desired, and it feels like they were planning on a sequel of some sort. Although the opening scene sets up the situation nicely and got me interested, it unfortunately goes downhill from there until it ultimately becomes a boring, bland attempt at a distinctive western. I do appreciate that this isn't just any revenge story, and at least tries to be distinctive. In terms of entertainment, you probably won't find it here, and it feels unnecessarily long. There's also this unnecessary romance between Jed Cooper and a woman named Rachel (Inger Stevens) that doesn't add much value to the film, and ends up taking lots of time that should've been spent on something else. It feels like it was there only to fit some sort of requirement regarding romance that lots of Hollywood movies have.
Everything about this movie sort of feels more like a TV movie than an actual movie, which is a shame. That being said, Hang 'Em High is not a bad movie, but it's no masterpiece by any means. Hang 'Em High is a bit of a disappointment, and everything besides Clint Eastwood is uninteresting and ultimately bland. It does bring some great questions and ideas up about what's right and what's wrong regarding the law, and it does have its moments of good. Just don't expect high entertainment and fun, because the sloppy storytelling gets in the way of it, although Clint Eastwood's presence makes it watchable alone. In my opinion, it's probably his worst western that I've seen so far (although I've yet to see Two Mules for Sister Sara). It falls pretty short of a solid western, and although Hang 'Em High didn't hurt Clint Eastwood's career by any means, the cons that overshadow the pros keep it from being one of his classics.