The Ox-Bow Incident

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The Ox-Bow Incident is a 1943 American western film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe, Harry Morgan and Jane Darwell. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture.[1]

In 1998, The Ox-Bow Incident was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."[2] The film was adapted from the 1940 novel of the same name, written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark.



The Ox-Bow Incident takes place in Nevada in 1885[3] and begins with Art Croft (Harry Morgan) and Gil Carter (Henry Fonda) riding into the town of Bridger's Wells. They go into Darby's Saloon and find that the atmosphere is subdued, in part because of the recent incidents of cattle-rustling (the stealing of livestock) in the vicinity. Everyone wants to catch the thieves.

Gil learns that his former girlfriend left town at the start of the spring and drinks heavily to drown his sorrows. Art and Gil are possible rustler suspects simply because they are not often seen in town. The townspeople are wary of them, and a fight breaks out between Gil and a local rancher named Farnley (Marc Lawrence). Immediately after the fight, another man races into town on horseback, goes into the saloon and announces that a rancher named Larry Kinkaid has been murdered. The townspeople immediately form a posse to pursue the murderers, who they believe to be the cattle rustlers. The posse is told by the local judge that it must bring the presumed rustlers back alive for trial, and that its deputization by a deputy (the sheriff being out of town on business) is illegal, but little heed is taken of this. Art and Gil join the posse as well, as much to avoid being its target as to participate. Davies (Harry Davenport), a man vehemently opposed to forming the posse because of its capacity for "mob rule", also joins. Among the other people in the posse are "Major" Tetley (Frank Conroy) and his son, Gerald (William Eythe). The major informs the posse that three men with cattle bearing Kinkaid's brand have just entered Bridger's Pass, and therefore shouldn't be too difficult to catch.

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