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The Hanging Tree (1959)

Not Rated | | Western | 20 February 1959 (Japan)
Character study of a Doctor who saves a local criminal from a mob who are trying to hang him, but then tries to control the life of the young man, realizing that he can exploit his secret.

Directors:

Delmer Daves, Karl Malden (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

Wendell Mayes (screenplay), Halsted Welles (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Gary Cooper ... Dr. Joseph 'Doc' Frail
Maria Schell ... Elizabeth Mahler
Karl Malden ... Frenchy Plante
George C. Scott ... George Grubb
Karl Swenson ... Tom Flaunce
Virginia Gregg ... Edna Flaunce
John Dierkes ... Society Red
King Donovan ... Wonder
Ben Piazza ... Rune
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Storyline

In 1873, on the Gold Trail, Montana, the mysterious and controlling Dr. Joseph Frail arrives in the small town of Skull Creek with miners in a gold rush. Dr. Frail buys a cabin on the top of a hill and he sees the smalltime thief Rune wounded and chased by a mob that wants to hang him. Dr. Frail helps and heals Rune; but in return, he demands that the young man becomes his bond servant. The alcoholic healer and preacher George Grubb tells to the locals that Dr. Frail, who is an excellent gambler and gunfighter, is a devil and has a mysterious past but nobody gives attention to his words. Soon the stagecoach is robbed by thieves that kill the passengers but the coachman survives and three days later he reaches Skull Creek. He tells that the horses had speed down the hill with a young woman inside the stagecoach. The men organize a pursuit and the rude Frenchy Plante finds the Swedish Elizabeth Mahler burnt and blind. Dr. Frail and Rune take care of her and they learn that Elizabeth and... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

From The Prize Novel -- A Picture Of Thundering Power! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 February 1959 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

A Árvore dos Enforcados See more »

Filming Locations:

Nile, Washington, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,350,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Baroda, Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Delmer Daves fell ill during filming and Karl Malden took over for several days until Daves recovered. See more »

Goofs

Scripts for western films of the 1950's often seemed to deflate the value of money disproportionate to its actual worth in the 1800s. The one-dollar-per-egg that Rune pays the Flaunces is equivalent to almost $20 each today. A cattle baron at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco wouldn't have paid those prices. Frail and Flaunce deflate the value of Elizabeth's brooch as maybe worth $20, but in 1870 that was the equivalent of $400. See more »

Quotes

Dr. Joseph 'Doc' Frail: Rune, this is Frenchy Plant. Never believe a word he says and never let him get behind you in the dark.
[Frenchy laughs]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Portrait of an Actor (1971) See more »

Soundtracks

L'arbre aux pendus
Written by Mack David, Jerry Livingston and Boris Vian (french dubbed version)
performed by Juan Catalano (french version)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
The Life You Save May Be Your Own
25 October 2011 | by wes-connorsSee all my reviews

After an unfortunate family incident, embittered doctor Gary Cooper changes his name (to Joseph "Joe" Frail) and moves to 1873 Montana. "Doc" sets up shop in the aptly named Gold Rush town of "Skull Creek" with handsome young Ben Piazza (as Rune) as manservant, after saving the robber lad from death by posse. A stagecoach attack quickly provides Mr. Cooper with another housemate, Swiss emigrant Maria Schell (as Elizabeth Mahler). Baked and blinded by the sun, Ms. Schell heals into an uncommonly beautiful woman. As you might expect, patient and doctor are mutually attracted. Why she and Mr. Piazza amount to naught is not explained. Creepy head-capped Karl Malden (as Frenchy Plante) provides villainy...

"The Hanging Tree" looms forebodingly as we learn more about Cooper's contrary character; it's a good role for the aging superstar, in one of his best later years performances. We may be meant to consider the love of Schell providing Cooper with a possible second chance as the main story, but much more interesting is how the story deals with ownership. Cooper "owns" both Piazza and Schell in saving their lives, but is challenged for the latter by Mr. Malden. The proof that Cooper is a good soul is conveyed early, by his tossing of the bullet he took from Piazza and his gift to the malnourished girl. And, "The Lucky Lady Mine" owners believe the ownership of material wealth will bring happiness. Delmer Daves directs beautifully.

******** The Hanging Tree (2/11/59) Delmer Daves ~ Gary Cooper, Ben Piazza, Maria Schell, Karl Malden


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