Hang ‘Em High (1968)
Director: Ted Post
Screenplay by: Leonard Freeman, Mel Goldberg
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Pat Hingle, Ed Begley, Ben Johnson, Charles McGraw, Ruth White, Bruce Dern, Alan Hale Jr., Arlene Golonka, James Westerfield, Dennis Hopper, L.Q. Jones, Joseph Sirola, James MacArthur, Bert Freed, Mark Lenard and Bob Steele.
Tagline: The hanging was the best show in town. But they made two mistakes. They hung the wrong man and they didn’t finish the job.
Jed Cooper (Eastwood), a former lawman, is found with a dead man’s cattle. Despite a bill of sale, the six vigilantes don’t believe Cooper. The put a noose around his neck, hang him and ride off.
Marshall Dave Bliss (Johnson) saw what was happening from a distance. He rides in and cuts Cooper down. Although he’ll carry a scar on his neck for the rest of his life, Cooper will live. Marshall Bliss turns Cooper over to Hanging Judge Fenton (Hingle). Fenton checks out Cooper’s story. When he finds it to be true, he offers Cooper a job as a Marshall.
Cooper accepts. His first order of business will be to track down the men that tried to hang him.
Thoughts (beware of spoilers)
Hang ‘Em High was Clint Eastwood’s first starring role in a Hollywood movie. It was also the first film Eastwood produced through his Malpaso production company.
Ted Post was handpicked to direct Hang ‘Em High by Clint Eastwood. Post had directed 24 episodes of Rawhide and the two had a good relationship. Post and Eastwood would reteam for Magnum Force.
The supporting cast is made up of well known character actors (Pat Hingle, Ed Begley, Charles McGraw, Ruth White, Bruce Dern, Alan Hale Jr., Arlene Golonka, James Westerfield, Dennis Hopper, Joseph Sirola, James MacArthur, Bert Freed and Mark Lenard) and former cowboy stars (Ben Johnson, Alan Hale, Jr., L.Q. Jones and Bob Steele).
Although it was sometimes advertised with the tagline: A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good the Bad and the Ugly…NOW The Man With No Name is back!, Eastwood’s character in Hang ‘Em High is NOT The Man With No Name.