The Ox Bow Incident

  • Directors: William A Wellman
  • Producers: Lamar Trotti
  • Writers: Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Lamar Trotti
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Western
  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews

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 they must bring the presumed rustlers back alive for trial, and that their deputization by a deputy 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), who is 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.

The men of the posse gather back in Canby’s Saloon and drink in silence. Major Tetley returns to his house and locks the door so his son cannot come in. His son yells at him through the door, telling him what he thinks of him. Major Tetley walks into another room and shoots himself. In the saloon, Gil reads Martin’s letter out loud to Art while the other members of the posse are listening. In the closing scene, mirroring the initial scene, Gil and Art ride out of town to deliver the letter to Martin’s wife and family.

Jezebel

  • Directors: William Wyler
  • Producers: Executive Producer, Hal B Wallis, Producer, William Wyler
  • Writers: Clements Ripley, Abem Finkel, John Huston, Robert Buckner, Story, Owen Davis
  • Genres: Drama, Romance
  • Actors: Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, George Brent

Spoiled, strong-willed New Orleans belle Julie Marsden (Bette Davis) is engaged to banker Preston ‘Pres’ Dillard (Henry Fonda). In retaliation for Pres refusing to drop his work and accompany her while she shops for a dress, she orders a brazen red one for the most important ball of the year, one where white dresses for unmarried women are expected. All of Julie’s friends are shocked, but no one can convince her to give up her whim.

Pres escorts Julie to the Olympus Ball, where their entrance is met by the disdainful stares of all present. She finally realizes the magnitude of her social blunder and begs Pres to take her away, but by this time, he is implacable. He makes her dance with him. All the other couples gradually leave the floor, finally leaving them alone and isolated. When the orchestra conductor stops playing, Pres orders him to continue and they finish the dance.

Afterwards, Pres takes his leave of Julie, implicitly breaking their engagement. In a final bit of spite, Julie slaps him in the face by way of farewell. Aunt Belle Massey (Fay Bainter) urges her to go after Pres and beg his forgiveness, but she refuses, arrogantly confident that he will return to her. Instead, he goes north on business. Julie shuts herself up in her house and refuses to see visitors.

Then something happens that overshadows everything else. As Pres and Dr. Livingstone had feared, a deadly epidemic of yellow fever sweeps the city, as it had numerous times before. Pres comes down with it and, like all other victims, is to be quarantined on an island. Amy prepares to go along to care for him, risking her own life, but Julie stops her. She tells the Northerner that she doesn’t know how to deal with the slaves and Southerners on the island. She begs to go in her place, as an act of redemption. Amy agrees.

My Darling Clementine

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Samuel G Engel
  • Writers: Story, Stuart N Lake, Sam Hellman, Screenplay, Samuel G Engel, Winston Miller
  • Genres: Drama, Western
  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature, Walter Brennan

In 1882 (the wrong year is marked on the tombstone of James, since Oct 26th, 1881 was the date of the Gunfight at the OK Coral) the Earp brothers, Wyatt, James, Morgan and Virgil, are driving cattle to California when they cross the Clanton family led by the “Old Man”. Told of a nearby town, Tombstone, the older brothers ride in, leaving the youngest brother James to watch over the cattle. The Earps quickly find Tombstone a lawless town. When they return to their camp, they find the cattle rustled and James dead.

Seeking vengeance, Wyatt returns to Tombstone and takes the open job of town marshall, meeting with the local powers, Doc Holliday and the Clantons, again and again in order to find out who was responsible. In the meantime, a young woman from Boston named Clementine Carter arrives in town…

C era una volta il West

  • Directors: Sergio Leone
  • Producers: Fulvio Mosella, Bino Cicogna
  • Writers: Screenplay, Sergio Leone, Sergio Donati, Story, Sergio Leone, Dario Argento, Bernardo Bertolucci
  • Genres: Action, Western
  • Actors: Charles Bronson, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, Henry Fonda

The film opens with three outlaws (Jack Elam, Woody Strode and Al Mulock) at an isolated train station in Arizona. The train arrives, and only a man playing a harmonica (Charles Bronson) disembarks. He asks for Frank, but the three men have been sent instead. A showdown ensues. Bronson is the only survivor.

On the remote farm Sweetwater, Brett McBain (Frank Wolff) and his children prepare a feast for the arrival of his new wife, Jill. Frank (Henry Fonda) and his gang emerge from the desert and kill all four McBains.

Jill (Claudia Cardinale) arrives in Flagstone by train from New Orleans and takes a carriage to the McBain farm. In a roadside establishment along the way, she sees the bandit Cheyenne (Jason Robards) after he has a noisy shootout with his prison escort. Seeing Bronson, Cheyenne dubs him Harmonica. When Cheyenne’s men arrive, Harmonica tells of his shootout earlier with three men who wore similar dusters, but Cheyenne denies they were from his gang.

Jill arrives at the farm to find her husband and his children dead. The assembled crowd came to be wedding guests, but she tells them she married McBain a month earlier in New Orleans. As the funeral ends, part of a duster is found (fake evidence Frank planted), and the men form a posse to hunt down Cheyenne. Jill stays and searches the house for anything of value, as McBain told her he was rich. She finds only some miniature buildings, including a model train station.

Harmonica and Cheyenne say goodbye to Jill. As they ride off, Cheyenne stops and gets down. He shows Harmonica that Morton shot him in the gut. He asks Harmonica not to watch him die, and Harmonica looks away. The work train arrives, and the film ends as Jill takes water out to the rail workers.

The Lady Eve

  • Directors: Preston Sturges
  • Producers: Paul Jones, Buddy G DeSylva
  • Writers: Monckton Hoffe, Preston Sturges
  • Genres: Comedy, Romance
  • Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda

Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) is a beautiful con artist. Along with her equally larcenous father, “Colonel” Harrington (Charles Coburn) and his partner Gerald (Melville Cooper), she is out to fleece rich, naive Charles Pike (Henry Fonda), the heir to the Pike Ale fortune (“The Ale That Won for Yale”). Pike is a woman-shy snake expert just returning from a year-long expedition up the Amazon.

But even the best laid plans can go astray. First, Jean falls hard for Pike and shields him from her card sharp father. Then, when Pike’s suspicious minder/valet Muggsy (William Demarest) discovers the truth about her and her father, Pike dumps her. Furious at being scorned, she re-enters his life masquerading as the posh “Lady Eve Sidwich”, niece of Sir Alfred McGlennan Keith (Eric Blore), another con man who’s been swindling the rich folk of Connecticut. Jean is determined to torment Pike mercilessly – as she explains, “I’ve got some unfinished business with him — I need him like the axe needs the turkey” – and it doesn’t hurt that Pike’s wealthy businessman father (Eugene Pallette) is impressed by English nobility and eager to promote a marriage between his son and her ladyship. Soon her hapless victim is so confused and bothered he doesn’t know which way is up, but, in the end, after all the twists and turns, deceptions and lies, true love wins out.

The Grapes of Wrath

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Darryl F Zanuck, Associate Producer, Nunnally Johnson
  • Writers: Screenplay, Nunnally Johnson, Story, John Steinbeck
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Jane Darwell, John Carradine, Shirley Mills, John Qualen, Eddie Quillan

The film opens with Tom Joad (Henry Fonda) being released from prison and hitchhiking his way back to his family farm in Oklahoma only to find it deserted. Tom finds an itinerant ex-preacher named Jim Casy (John Carradine) sitting under a tree by the side of the road. Tom remembers that Casy was the preacher who baptized him, but now Casy has “lost the call” and his faith. Casy leads him to find his family at Tom’s uncle John’s place. His family is happy to see Tom and explain they have made plans to head for California in search of employment as their farm has been foreclosed by the bank. The large Joad family of twelve leaves at daybreak, packing everything into an old and dilapidated modified truck in order to make the long journey to the promised land of California.

The trip along Highway 66 is arduous and it soon takes a toll on the Joad family. Weak and elderly Grampa is the first to die on their journey. After he dies, they pull over to the shoulder of the road, unload him, and bury him. Tom writes the circumstances surrounding the death on a page from the Family Bible and places it on the body so that if his remains were ever found his death would not be investigated as a possible homicide. They park in a camp and they meet a man, a returning migrant from California, who laughs at Pa’s optimism about conditions in California and who speaks bitterly about his awful experiences in the West. He hints at what the Joads will soon find out for themselves. The family arrives at the first transient migrant campground for workers and find the camp is crowded with other starving, jobless and desperate travelers. Their truck slowly makes its way through the dirt road between the shanty houses and around the camp’s hungry-faced inhabitants. Tom says, “Sure don’t look none too prosperous.”

I ain’t never gonna be scared no more. I was though. For a while it looked like we was beat. Good and beat. Looked like we didn’t have nobody in the whole wide world but enemies. Like nobody was friendly no more. Made me feel kinda bad and scared too, like we was lost and nobody cared…. Rich fellas come up and they die, and their kids ain’t no good and they die out, but we keep on coming. We’re the people that live. They can’t wipe us out, they can’t lick us. We’ll go on forever Pa, cos we’re the people.

12 Angry Men

  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Producers: Henry Fonda, Reginald Rose
  • Writers: Reginald Rose
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Henry Fonda, Lee J Cobb, E G Marshall, Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Jack Klugman, Edward Binns, Jack Warden, Joseph Sweeney, Ed Begley, George Voskovec, Robert Webber

The story begins after closing arguments have been presented in a murder case, as the judge is giving his instructions to the jury. According to American law (both then and now), the verdict (whether guilty or not guilty) must be unanimous. A non-unanimous verdict results in a hung jury, which in turn forces a retrial. The question they are deciding is whether the defendant, a young teenaged boy from the city slum, murdered his father. The jury is further instructed that a guilty verdict will be accompanied by a mandatory death sentence — the electric chair. The jury of twelve move to the jury room, where they begin to become acquainted with each others’ personalities and discuss the case.

The plot of the film revolves around their difficulty in reaching a unanimous verdict due, in some cases, to the jurors’ prejudices. Juror #8 dissents in the initial voting, stating that the evidence presented is circumstantial and the boy deserves a fair deliberation, upon which he starts questioning the accuracy and reliability of the only two witnesses to the murder, the fact that the knife used in the murder is not as unusual as assumed (he produces an identical one from his pocket), and the overall shady circumstances.

Last of all to agree is the adamant Juror 3, who, after a long confrontation with Juror 8, breaks down after glancing at and furiously tearing up a picture of him and his son, whom he hasn’t seen in two years (his rage suggesting a probable falling out with the boy, but earlier states that when his son was young, he tried to teach him to be a “man” after seeing him lose a fight and then says that his son had punched him in the mouth.) All jurors leave and clear the accused of all charges off-screen, while juror number 8 helps the angry juror number 3 with his coat in a show of compassion. In the epilogue, the friendly Jurors 8 (Davis) and 9 (McArdle) exchange surnames (all jurors having remained nameless throughout the movie) and the movie ends.