Thursday, January 29, 2009

Film Review: HANG 'EM HIGH (1968, Ted Post)

Stars: 3 of 5.
Running Time: 114 minutes.
Notable Cast or Crew: Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens, Ed Begley, L.Q. Jones (BULLETPROOF, Peckinpah movies, LONE WOLF MCQUADE), Dennis Hopper.
Tag-lines: " 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."
Best one-liner(s): "When you hang a man, you better look at him."

There are three types of Clint Eastwood Westerns that spell quality. Those directed by Sergio Leone, those directed by Don Siegel, and those directed by Clint Eastwood. Nowhere on that list is there any room for a gentleman by the name of Ted Post. This is not a bad movie, but it was an attempt to cash in on Eastwood's success as Sergio Leone's "Man with No Name." The Leone westerns are gritty, grimy, and dusty. They're loud and violent. The soundtracks are punctuated by primal shrieks and grunts, courtesy of Ennio Morricone. This is a Hollywood film. A Hollywood still clinging to an old type of Western, now tainted by years of televised Westerns and the decline of Hawksian filmmaking. Not until the next year, 1969, with THE WILD BUNCH, would Hollywood get with the program. To illustrate my point, HANG 'EM HIGH depicts The Man With No Name taking a woman on a picnic.

Let me say that again. THIS FILM DEPICTS THE MAN WITH NO NAME AND A LADYFRIEND ON A PICNIC. If you do not understand the horrifying implications of that statement, then maybe you shouldn't be watching Clint Eastwood movies anyway.

-Sean Gill


Buck Atwater said...

Picnic aside I like this one OK. It's no masterpiece however, and that's being kind.

The funniest thing to me is that the Skipper from Gilligan's Island is one of the bad guys, AND that the main theme to seems to incorporate the Gilligan's Island tune as well (!).

I was also wondering if you were going to review some of Clint's lesser known 70's stuff like The Eigar Sanction, Firefox or even The Gauntlet?

Sean Gill said...


Yeah, in retrospect perhaps I was a little harsh on this guy, and as you say, Alan Hale Jr. as a villain (plus bit parts by Bruce Dern and Dennis Hopper) deserves some respect. Still pretty bland in comparison to some of the Eastwood greats, though.

I would like to tackle some of those second-tier Clints at some point. I had grand plans for an Every Which Way But Loose/Any Which Way You Can/ Every Which Way But Loose Novelization review cycle in mind, which may have culminated in a fanfiction by yours truly called "Any Whichever Way You Dare," but it hasn't panned out yet. Hopefully someday.