Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 27th, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1943
Director: William A. Wellman
Writer: Lamar Trotti
Cast: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe, Harry Morgan, Jane Darwell, Harry Davenport, Marc Lawrence
BluRay released: July 4th, 2016
Approximate running time: 75 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1 aspect ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: PG (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: Arrow Academy
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL (UK)
Retail Price: £15.99 (UK)
The Ox-Bow Incident was directed by William A. Wellman whose other notable films include, Wings, The Public Enemy, The Hatchett Man and a Star is Born – 1937 version. Key collaborators for The Ox-Bow Incident include, cinematographer Arthur C. Miller (Whirlpool, The Prowler) and composer Cyril J. Mockridge (My Darling Clementine, Thieves’ Highway). The screenplay for The Ox-Bow Incident was adapted from Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s novel of the same name.
From the moment The Ox-Bow Incident novel caught the attention of director William A. Wellman it was a project he knew he wanted to be part of. From there it took many years to convince any of the Hollywood studios to make a feature film adaption and even when Twentieth Century Fox finally agreed to produce the film. It was then relegated to a B picture status and though the film was finally completed in 1941, it would be another two years before it was released theatrically. Fortunately, after years of languishing in obscurity, this film is finally getting the recognition it’s so richly deserves.
And nowhere is this more evident than how much this film is able to fit into seventy-five minutes. With this film’s meticulously constructed narrative quickly drawing you with an opening setup that foreshadows just how bleak things are going to get. Also once the tension sets in it then builds to a fever pitch by the time this film reaches its moment of truth.
From a production standpoint there is not an area where this film does not excel! With one of its strongest assets being its atmospheric visuals which at times are reminiscent of the look associated with Film Noir’s. With this film’s standout moment visually being the moments leading into the three men’s fate at the hands of an angry mob.
When discussing the film one must not overlook or undervalue the performances, especially Henry Fonda (Once Upon a Time in the West) in the role of Gil Carter, a drifter with a drinking problem. Another standout performance includes, Dana Andrews (Laura, Curse of the Demon) in the role of Donald Martin, one of the three men accused by the posse of murder and cattle rustling. Other notable cast members include, Anthony Quinn (Zorba the Greek) and Harry Morgan (M*A*S*H – T.V. series). Ultimately The Ox-Bow Incident is an extraordinary film about the dangers of mob mentality.
The Ox-Bow Incident comes on a 50 GB dual layer BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The source for this transfer is a brand new 4K digital restoration by Twentieth Century Fox. Details look crisp, contrast and black levels look very doo throughout, and there are no issues with DNR or compression. Also it this transfer appears to the same used for Kino Lorber region A Blu-Ray.
This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and removable English SDH have been included with this release. The audio sounds, clean, clear and balanced.
Extras for this release include, a stills gallery, a trailer for the film (2 minutes 12 seconds), an appreciation / introduction featurette for The Ox-Bow Incident Peter Stanfield, author of Hollywood, Westerns and the 1930s: The Lost Trail and Horse Opera: The Strange History of the Singing Cowboy, six scene-select audio commentaries with Peter Stanfield, a documentary titled Henry Fonda: Hollywood’s Quiet Hero (45 minutes) and an American West historian Dick Etulain and William Wellman Jr.
Topics discussed in the featurette with Peter Stanfield include, how themes in the film echoed what was going on during World War II, Hollywood and the western genre, changes Hollywood made to the western genre during World War II and other notable westerns from this era.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the novel from which the film was adapted, the origins of the film, negative reaction to the film during studio preview screenings, characters and the role they play in the story at hand, casting and information about the cast, visuals and the look of the film and how the film’s ending differs from the novel’s ending.
The documentary titled a Henry Fonda: Hollywood’s Quiet Hero is a well-rounded overview of his career as an actor.
Rounding out the extra is a reversible cover art and a booklet with cast & crew information, an essay about the film writing by Nick Pinkerton and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall The Ox-Bow Incident gets an exceptional release from Arrow Academy, highly recommended.