Sunday, Apr 2024
Director: William Wellman
Screenwriters: Lamar Trotti from Walter Van Tilburg Clark's novel
Length: 75 mins. B&W
Released: 1943

The Ox Bow Incident PosterThis unconventional Western set in Nevada is often described as an anti-western. There are no big shoot-outs, cavalry, villains, or heroes. Instead this is the story of the transformation of an ordinary Western town from a law- abiding community into a mob from which the good guys and bad guys spring forth.

A rumor hits town that rustlers stole cattle and killed a rancher. Over the next twenty four hours the community is whipped into a frenzy, takes mob action, and settles back into a guilt-ridden haze. Participating in the events are two passers-by, Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan, who share a distrust of small towns: "Why would anybody live in this part of the country if they didn't have something to hide" (a sentiment which is later seen in many of David Lynch's movies).

There are no light moments in The Ox-Box Incident and it is doubtful that it would ever be screened on Saturday afternoon television. The movie is simply riveting. The powerlessness of one in a mob is portrayed with chilling effect. Individuals desperately try to sway the crowd to no avail. The mob moves in an inevitable direction powered by forces unrelated to anything the accused have done and is deaf to voices of reason.

Perhaps the creepiest Western ever made.


  • Henry Fonda --- Gil Carter
  • Dana Andrews --- Donald Martin
  • Mary Beth Hughes -- Rose Mapen
  • Anthony Quinn --- Juan Martines
  • William Eythe --- Gerald Tetley
  • Harry Morgan --- Art Croft
  • Jane Darwell --- Ma Grier
  • Matt Briggs --- Judge Daniel Tyler
  • Harry Davenport -- Arthur Davies
  • Frank Conroy -- Major Tetley
  • Marc Lawrence -- Farnley
  • Paul Hurst --- Monty Smith
  • Victor Kilian --- Darby
  • Chris-Pin Martin -- Poncho
  • Willard Robertson - Sheriff
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