Speaking of vigilante murder and unseen art, this cover of Kino’s forthcoming Bluray of William Wellman‘s The Ox-Bow Incident (7.12) is fairly striking. And unusual — Henry Fonda‘s bearded face has always been used in previous posters or DVD jackets. It seems to have been taken from a vintage early ’40s movie poster. The same art was used for the German Bluray but rendered with a mix of faded color and sepia.

When I posted HE’s 160 Greatest American films last summer, I ranked The Ox-Bow Incident at #120, just after Mean Streets and just before Scarface. Which means nothing. I could wake up tomorrow and rank it at #27 or #48 or #73.

Posted on 8.1.12: Can anyone imagine any director today shooting the final dialogue scene of a film — not a dialogue but a soliloquy scene, actually — in which the eyes of the lead actor are covered by the brim of a hat? This is one of the most brilliantly composed shots in any Hollywood drama, ever. The director of The Ox-Bow Incident was William Wellman; the dp was Arthur C. Miller (Young Mr. Lincoln. How Green Was My Valley, The Song of Bernadette, A Letter to Three Wives, The Gunfighter).

Posted on 8.5.14: “This scene, I submit, contains one of Henry Fonda‘s greatest acting moments. It’s from William Wellman‘s The Ox-Bow Incident, of course — a 1943 film, set in 1880s Nevada, about a lynch mob looking to avenge an uncomfirmed killing of a well-liked local rancher. Fonda plays Gil Carter, the former boyfriend of Rose Mapen (Mary Beth Hughes) who has recently married a snooty San Franciscan named Swanson (George Meeker). Watch Fonda’s gradually shifting reactions to Swanson, particularly starting at the 1:40 mark. That very slight tilt of the head at 1:45…perfect! Fonda was 37 at the time of filming. Jane was about five; Peter was two or three.