167 user 68 critic

The Ox-Bow Incident (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, Western | 21 May 1943 (USA)
When a posse captures three men suspected of killing a local farmer, they become strongly divided over whether or not to lynch the men.


William A. Wellman


Lamar Trotti (written for the screen by), Walter Van Tilburg Clark (from the novel by)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Henry Fonda ... Gil Carter
Dana Andrews ... Donald Martin
Mary Beth Hughes ... Rose Mapen
Anthony Quinn ... Juan Martínez
William Eythe ... Gerald Tetley
Harry Morgan ... Art Croft (as Henry Morgan)
Jane Darwell ... Ma Grier
Matt Briggs ... Judge Daniel Tyler
Harry Davenport ... Arthur Davies
Frank Conroy ... Major Tetley
Marc Lawrence ... Jeff Farnley
Paul Hurst ... Monty Smith
Victor Kilian ... Darby
Chris-Pin Martin ... Poncho
Willard Robertson ... Sheriff Risley


Two drifters are passing through a Western town, when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople, joined by the drifters, form a posse to catch the perpetrators. They find three men in possession of the cattle, and are determined to see justice done on the spot. Written by David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


IT'LL CHILL YOUR BLOOD WITH TERROR!.. AND MAKE IT BOIL WITH FURY! (original print ad-all caps) See more »


Drama | Western


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


The rights to Walter Van Tilburg Clark's book were originally acquired in 1941 by Harold Hurley, a former Paramount producer who tried unsuccessfully to make a distribution deal with United Artists. Modern sources note that director William A. Wellman bought the rights from Hurley and then interested Twentieth Century-Fox production chief Darryl F. Zanuck in producing the story. Zanuck agreed on the condition that Wellman direct two other films for the studio, Thunder Birds: Soldiers of the Air (1942) and Buffalo Bill (1944). See more »


When Juan Martínez (Anthony Quinn) is caught by the posse, he is told to raise his hands and he does so. In the next shot, however, his hands are on his knees again. See more »


Judge Daniel Tyler: One more word out of you, Smith, and I'll have you up for impeding the course of justice.
Jenny Grier: Judge, you can't impede what don't move anyway.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the credits an ad for U.S. war savings bonds is shown on the screen. It says that "15,000 movie theatres are now selling U.S. war savings stamps and bonds! Buy yours in this theatre." See more »


Referenced in Bones: The Suit on the Set (2012) See more »


Red River Valley
Played at the beginning and end of the film as well as at the camp site prior to the hanging
See more »

User Reviews

A sombre and thought-provoking Western with a great main and support cast giving top-drawer interpretations
29 November 2018 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

An intelligent adult and impressively tense Western based on a true story by Walter Van Clark . A top-notch cast under superb direction by William A Wellman makes this movie excellent in every aspect ,being shot on 20th Century Fox studios that serves to increase the mood of darkness and claustrophobic tension . This famous and prestigious picture from the 'Golden Age of the classic Western' was splendidly directed by William Wellman with an extraordinary plethora of actors who deliver unforgettable performances . It is set in 1885 Nevada , where takes place a terrifying nightmare when a popular rancher is killed and a mob of angry townspeope can't wait for the Marshall to find the murderers . Then , some of them attempt to take justice on their hands and quick to condemn a trio (Dana Andrews , Anthony Quinn, Francis Ford) of drifters on a lousy trial without solid evidences , being accused of rustlers and killers . As they judge those considering guilties , despite the protests of a good guy called Gil Carter (Henry Fonda) and his colleague Donald Martin (Henry Morgan) . As they are posthumously proven innocent and Carter slowly manages to convince the others and he holds out with a verdict of not guilty, thus setting the stage for arguments and reasons why or why not the three detained men may be guilty . As two different groups are struggling to decide the fate of the suspect people who allegedly killed a rancher . Lynch law rules the mob ¡ . It'll chill your blood with terror amd make it boil with fury ¡

Awesome , brilliant studio of a mob mentality with strong individual characterizations , and paced in psychological tendry . But for all the obviousness of its meaning , including a simplistically liberal message , which once made it seem a landmark in the adult Western , the picture is really intriguing , not merely because William A Wellman's tersely economic narration of his material , but because 20th Century Fox made a decission to cut budget and reducing costs by filming it utterly on a studio set .This is a decidedly uncelebratory portrayal of the badness , of the angry crowd and the wrong and merciless desire for vengeance . Indeed , it influenced in Noir Film genre , as its affinity to ¨Noir¨ is extremely evident and not only in the dark shadowy cinematography , but in the gallery of sombre roles and grotesques that populates this provoking portrait of the frontier spirit .Though a long time of the movie being shot at an only location , it never lacks for taut , suspense , intrigue and inspired direction . The confrontation results to be tense , charged and riveting . Being masterfully written for the screen by Lamar Trotti , also producer , who writes an interesing and complex script from the novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. Being made in limited budget , as head of 20th Century-Fox Darryl F. Zanuck overcame his objections to the contentious nature of the film by insisting that it be made cheaply on studio sets . Interestingly , the movie's characterizations and dynamics can be seen to prefigure ¨12 angry men¨ by Sidney Lumet , that is less tragic but just as moving . Here Henry Fonda gives a magnificent acting as a cowboy with a conscience in an issue that is not as obviously clear . Although his character was originally offered to Gary Cooper, who turned it down. Being a choral film here appears notorious secondaries such as : Anthony Quinn , Mary Beth Hughes, William Eythe , Jane Darwell , Marc Lawrence ,Harry Davenport , Matt Briggs , Frank Conroy , Victor Kilian , Rondo Hatton , Francis Ford , among others .

It packs an adequate cinematography in Black and White and in overblown and amazing deep by cameraman Arthur Miller . It contains an attractive , thrilling and lyric musical score by Cyril Mockridge . The motion picture, a big 20th Century Fox spectacle well produced by Lamar Trotti , was competentingly directed by William A Wellman who bought the rights himself, and proceeded to make the film "his" way and was a box-office flop. It had several Oscar nominations ; however , being the last movie ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture which received no other Academy Award nominations . William made very good films , as Wellman directed all kind of genres as Wartime : ¨Alas¨ , ¨Battleground¨ , ¨The story of GI Joe¨ , ¨Lafayette Escadrilla¨ , Drama : ¨Nothing sacred¨, ¨Blood Alley¨ , ¨Good my lady¨ , ¨Magic Town and the Oscarized ¨A Star is born¨ , his greatest success , Adventure : ¨Beau Geste¨ , Gangster movie : ¨Public enemy ¨, and Western : ¨Buffalo Bill¨ , ¨, ¨Joaquin Murrieta¨ , ¨Across the wide Missouri¨ , ¨Westerward the woman¨ , ¨¨Yellow sky¨,and this¨The Ox-Box incident¨, among others . Rating : 8/10 . Being included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies. Above average , worthwhile watching

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

21 May 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ox-Bow Incident See more »

Filming Locations:

Chatsworth, California, USA See more »


Box Office


$565,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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