The Ox Bow Incident


The Ox Bow Incident is a film based on a novel of the same title. The novel from which the film was adapted was written by Walter Van Tilburg Clark in 1940 whereas, the film was released in 1943 and it was directed by William A. Wellman with Henry Fonda, Harry Morgan, Anthony Quinn, Mary Hughes, Jane Darwell, William Eythe, and Dana Andrews starring. The central theme of both the novel and the film surround two wanderers who were drawn into a mob desperate to lynch their target suspects contrary to legal demands.

The Ox Bow Incident (novel) was adjudged as the best novel among the novels published in the same year specifically because it was a novel that unravels what causes men to love violent lifestyle and t

o break the rules. When the film was released in May 1943, it received positive reviews even from critics.

The Plot of the Ox Bow Incident (Film)

This film has its plot set in Bridger’s Wells, Nevada in 1885. Two men, Harry Morgan who acted as Art Croft and Henry Fonda as Gil Carter rode into Bridger’s Wells and entered Darby’s Saloon at a time when the men of the town were downcast as a result of recent activities of cattle thieves. Since Art and Gil were rarely seen in that town, they were suspected to be cattle rustlers. Therefore, when the murder of Larry Kinkaid, a rancher, was announced by a man who had entered the saloon, the people in the town gathered, formed a mob and pursued after the men they thought were rustlers. Art and Gil also joined the mob to avoid being regarded as rustlers and Harry Davenport who starred as Davies also joined though he was initially opposed to forming the mob likewise, Frank Conroy who starred as Major Tetley and his son, William Eythe who starred as Gerald all joined the mob. The mob caught three men in Ox-Bow Canyon while they were sleeping and subsequently thought they were the rustlers on the basis of what they thought were stolen cattle found nearby. The three men were hanged by the mob contrary to the instruction of a judge who had earlier directed that the suspects must be brought for trial. Unfortunately for the mob, Kinkaid was alive and Sheriff Risley declared that the men that shot him have been arrested. That was a tragedy for the mob as some of the leaders like Major Tetley shot himself in his house but a last gap humanitarian effort was made by Gil and Art who raised some $500 for the wife of Martin, who was one of the three men lynched by the mob.

The Production for The Ox Bow Incident (Film)

William A. Wellman who directed the film chose to adapt it based on his love for the novel. William got Darryl F. Zanuck to produce the film and the filming lasted from June to August 1942 while a total of $565,000 was budgeted for the production of the film.