DVD Review “The Hanging Tree”

Directed by: Delmer Daves
Starring: Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, George C. Scott, Karl Swenson
Distributed by: Warner Archive
Release Date: August 16, 2012
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 107 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

When I think of westerns, two people should come to mind, John Wayne and…Gary Cooper.  This movie was beautiful filmed during the later days of Gary Cooper’s career. “The Hanging Tree” is based of a prize winning novel and is well represented in the film. The scenery is also quite epic in this film, courtsey of the mountains west of Yakima, WA. Thanks to Warner Archive for finally releasing this classic on DVD. The newly remastered transfer looks fantastic.

For a film released back in 1959, it sure looks good.  The colors are really vibrant and sharp.  The film is also nicely presented in 16 X 9 letterbox with its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The audio is also quite satisfying with its mono track.  It showcases the dialogue and the film’s score very well. The only special feature included in a trailer, like most Warner Archive releases. This film is really well-presented  and is sure to make happy any fans of Cooper’s work.

Premise: Many stars saddled up and rode into Technicolor sunsets during the great Western revival of the 1950s, but only a few would be forever associated with the rugged individualists of the West. Among them are John Wayne, Randolph Scott and the start of The Hanging Tree, Gary Cooper. The story takes place in Skull Creek, an 1870s Montana gold camp. Dr. Joseph Frail (Cooper) arrives, setting out his shingle near the camp’s boom-or-bust hubbub of adventurers, ladies of fortune, mountain men and just plain decent folks. As skilled with a six-gun as with a scalpel, Frail will need both. A tragic past shadows his days. The treachery of the mob clouds his future. A determined immigrant (Maria Schell), a shifty-eyed miner (Karl Malden) and a hellfire preacher (debuting George C. Scott) figure prominently in Frail’s showdown with fate. Prominent, too, is the breathtaking countryside. Here the mountains are imposing. And a man alone looms ever taller.

One Reply to “DVD Review “The Hanging Tree””

  1. One of the most cherished films in my collection. However I remain incensed that Maria Schell did not receive an Oscar. There is nothing false about her acting in this movie and the ending cements her claim to that award. I remain astonished that she was derailed by the “Era of Male Actors” being favored for Oscar nominations. I hope having been raised through that time period should offer proof of support for that comment.

    Personally I feel Karl Malden could have been easily replaced by an actor with more charisma. He did not stand out among his fine fellow actors and again, my personal opinion, he rather dragged the movie out of the chance for an Oscar for best movie of the year.

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