Hang 'Em High (1968)

M   |    |  Drama, Western

Hang 'Em High (1968) Poster

When an innocent man barely survives a lynching, he returns as a lawman determined to bring the vigilantes to justice.


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13 August 2005 | gottogorunning
| Worth Watching
Big Clint's first film outside of Serigo Leone's sensational Dollars trilogy is none other than...a Western. Hang 'Em High is a rather overlooked entry in Clint's long and impressive film wagon, even though it is a serious, no-nonsense and modest look at crime and punishment and a subtle dig at the injustice system, which was somewhat forgotten by his critics who emphasized that he was a symbol of violence, especially in the Dollars trilogy and the Dirty Harry series.

Clint plays an ex-lawman who picks up a new badge after he is almost killed by a group of men who hang him and leave him for dead. He then embarks on a mission to hunt them down one-by-one and hand them over to the law.

Ted Post's watchable Western drama is definitely a refreshing break from most other 'revenge' movies. Instead of cold-blooded vengeance, the script decides to display Clint's character, though still as the cold, silent anti-hero, as a more peaceful person who would truly like to see men behind bars rather than shooting them down. The film also keeps it grip, rarely letting a boring moment crawl in even though this is more talk than action.

Its not a perfect, polished or particularly great film - the characterization always stays pretty low and the romance between Clint and the charming Inger Stevens isn't fully developed, for instance. However, it has its highlights - a memorable opening sequence and an effective musical score - along with its notable touch for seeing justice rather than violence and killing. A good effort that's worth watching and not ignoring.

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Did You Know?


This film represents what might be called the third phase in western stars. The first were represented in the silent films by such stars as William S. Hart, who actually grew up during the days of the wild west and played highly dramatic versions of the western hero. Theirs was an era in which the new medium of film provided adventure in an era in which three-quarters of Americans lived in rural settings. The second were the singing cowboys such as Gene Autry, who introduced a very light-hearted and stylized image, which offered both fun and escapism during the grinding years of the Great Depression. The third was represented by John Wayne, who played serious figures in serious situations, which suited the mood of the post-war era. Spanning a period of roughly thirty years, its reign, along with that of Wayne, was the longest to date.

In this film, Clint Eastwood introduced a greatly modernized cowboy in stories very similar to the John Wayne films but far more earnest. His slender figure and flat, wide-brimmed hat (bearing a strong resemblance to the character of Hipshot in the popular Rick O'Shay comic strip) was a breath of fresh air in a genre that had been greatly waning in popularity in a society in which baby boomers were reaching maturity.


Jed Cooper: I'm gonna have to carry ya, huh?


When Cooper is marched to the 'paddywagon,' one mule is seen hitched behind the wagon. It then disappears, and when the wagon moves, two mules are seen.

Alternate Versions

As with many westerns at the time the UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to reduce facial closeups during the opening lynching and to edit Cooper's fight with Miller. Later video/DVD releases were intact.


Shall We Gather at the River?
Robert Lowry
Sung by crowd before mass hanging


Plot Summary


Drama | Western

Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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