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The Hanging Tree


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Editorial Reviews

Many stars saddled up and rode into Technicolor sunsets during the great Western revival of the 1950s, but only a few would be forever associated with the rugged individualists of the West. Among them are John Wayne, Randolph Scott and the start of The Hanging Tree, Gary Cooper.

The story takes place in Skull Creek, an 1870s Montana gold camp. Dr. Joseph Frail (Cooper) arrives, setting out his shingle near the camp's boom-or-bust hubbub of adventurers, ladies of fortune, mountain men and just plain decent folks. As skilled with a six-gun as with a scalpel, Frail will need both. A tragic past shadows his days. The treachery of the mob clouds his future. A determined immigrant (Maria Schell), a shifty-eyed miner (Karl Malden) and a hellfire preacher (debuting George C. Scott) figure prominently in Frail's showdown with fate. Prominent, too, is the breathtaking countryside. Here the mountains are imposing. And a man alone looms ever taller.

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Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden, George C. Scott, Karl Swenson
  • Directors: Karl Malden, Delmer Daves
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Archive
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2012
  • Run Time: 107 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (188 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B008JEJSB6
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #16,385 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Julia Stewart on March 17, 2009
Format: DVD
This psychological Western ranks as high as "High Noon", if not a little higher. It is truly a sublime work of art. The script, based on Dorothy M. Johnson's novel, is intelligently written by Wendall Mayes (Anatomy of Murder) & Hallstead Welles. Much of the movie is filmed in the beautiful Ahtanum and Nile Valleys, Yakima, Washington and director Delmer Davis shows a good eye for action and bold vistas. Shot in Technicolor and superbly acted by Gary Cooper, Maria Schell, Karl Malden and Ben Piazza, the film is artistically and visually stunning! A haunting title song by Jerry Livingston (nominated for Oscar) and dramatic music score by Max Steiner (Sergeant York, The Fountainhead) complement the unforgettable story.

It is 1873, the Gold Trail, Montana. People from all walks of life are coming to small miners camp in hope to strike gold. Among them is Doctor Joe Frail. A complex man. A survivor of the ultimate betrayal that left him emotionally damaged. An excellent doctor, he heals everybody from just about everything, but is unable to mend his own broken heart. Instead, he resolves to never trust a woman again and changes his name from Temple to Frail. "It suits a man with frail hope"- he'd explain to a friend. Exceptionally kind, caring and compassionate, Joe Frail would do everything in his power to help his patients. And yet, he could be equally mean (but always fair) to his enemies and would lose his tamper quickly if somebody mentioned his past.

Doctor Frail saves the life of a young thief named Rune. Rune is desperate, homeless man, who would've been hanged or would've died from his wound if Doctor Frail did not operate on him. Rune can't pay the doctor for his professional service and so, he becomes his bond servant. It's not an easy relationship.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By S. Baesmann on March 16, 2010
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
While this Gary Cooper gem is a must have classic, I would recomend waiting for a U.S. release. The DVD seems to have been copied from a video tape source, with just a passable picture and the sound has an annoying amount of noise present. Only buy this copy if you just can't wait and HAVE to have it. The five stars are for the story, not the copy.
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86 of 94 people found the following review helpful By tjcrewsbooks on January 19, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
This last time I saw this film, which was probably 15 or 20 years ago, it was excellent!
The scenery was breathtaking, and it was Gary Cooper in color!
I remember reading it was George C. Scott's first film, too.
Somebody has the rights to this film, and I guess they're holding out for big bucks. So what.
Does anyone think we'll pay $50 for a DVD? Or $80 for an obsolete VHS? C'mon, people!
The Hanging Tree is a good story, the film was done well and it affords great entertainment.
But, "whomever you are," if you wait long enough--no one will care. If you wait another 15 or 20 years, not enough of us will be around who care.
Can you imagine if there was a Rudolph Valentino film which had not been seen in 50 years? There would be a short line at the Box Office for that one!
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49 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Rodger Lumpkins on August 28, 2004
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
A TRUE MASTERPIECE OF A MOVIE..WITH SEVERAL OF THE GREATEST STARS OF ALL TIME..GARY COOPER..GEORGE C. SCOTT AND KARL MALDEN JUST TO NAME A FEW..GREAT MUSIC..EVERYTHING YOU COULD ASK FOR IN A MOVIE..AND WHERE IS IT..NO WHERE TO BE FOUND..I WAS LUCKY TO GET A COPY OF IT MANY YEARS AGO, BUT SOMEONE TELL ME WHY SO MANY REPEATS ARE SHOWN AND THIS ONE NEVER IS..I THINK I KNOW WHY..SO MORE MONEY CAN BE MADE FROM BUYING IT FROM THOSE FEW LUCKY ONES WHO HAVE IT AND SELL IT TO YOU..THE CHEAPEST PRICE I HAVE SEEN FOR A COPY IS 45.00...WORTH IT..BUT GIVE THE PEOPLE A BREAK.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful By W. MCCAFFERTY on June 14, 2005
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This classic is better than 99% of those westerns already on DVD. The acting and cinematograhpy are exceptional, and the story wonderful. We've been waiting for it on DVD ever since the DVD was invented. Amazon needs to place this title on their DVD search engine so that people can sign up for notification of its availability and perhaps that way help get the word out to the powers that be.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Silver on June 23, 2005
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It amazes me that excellent films such as "The Hanging Tree" and Arthur Penn's "Four Friends" (to name but two) are NOT yet available on DVD -- esp. LONG before such crap as "My Mom's A Werewolf" (to name but one example), which is!!! Other commenters have already summarized the story well. "The Hanging Tree" is one of the very best and detail-memorable of the western genre -- esp. if one discounts the epic westerns. And it's certainly one of Cooper's very best "contemporary films (along with "High Noon" and "Friendly Persuasion"! Co-star Karl Malden is excellent as always; and this was the time I recall noticing George C. Scott on film, in a small but scenery chewing role. I've not seen this film in at least 10~15 years, sad to say, but I hope to again. MAKE A DVD OF THIS FILM!!! Perhaps if this was by MGM -- They've released a slew of classic westerns lately. -- and not Warner Bros.!? I don't know, but it's a GD shame!!!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Cherry on January 21, 2005
Format: VHS Tape
I agree with Mr. Galt of California - everything he said. Please brimg this movie out of the closet. It is too good to keep hidden and a diservice to Gary Cooper's memory. I was fortunate to see this movie more recently than Mr. Galt - 1995 to be exact but it is too good not to be able to see it when one wishes. Let's have this on DVD soon. Especially since I am 82 and can't wait forever!
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