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596 Ratings

The Ox-Bow Incident

Directed by William A. Wellman
United States, 1943
Western, Crime


Two drifters are passing through a Western town, when news comes in that a local farmer has been murdered and his cattle stolen. The townspeople, joined by the drifters, form a posse to catch the perpetrators.

The Ox-Bow Incident Directed by William A. Wellman

Awards & Festivals

Academy Awards

1944 | Nominee: Best Picture

National Board of Review

1943 | 2 wins including: Best Film

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

1943 | 2nd place: Best Director

Critics reviews

What we find in The Ox-Bow Incident is not a story of a man but the story of a situation. Fonda blends in and lurks in the background, observing the movie’s real protagonist: progress.
July 01, 2014
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Instead of preaching, The Ox-Bow Incident is played like music for its audience. The tightly composed 75 minutes of film nevertheless is full of textures aligned very carefully with its own rhythm — allegro, largo, andante, then allegrissimo, ending with profound adagio — letting scenes take their time exploring the depths of layers of moral complexities, through broad daylight and the darkness of the night.
September 01, 2012
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What are people saying?

  • Ghostman's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    The Ox-Bow Incident is a powerful film with an important message about the evil that is mob rule and the value of civil rights and due process. It's a film that is admirably anti-fascist & made during a time when such behavior was prevalent and actively and openly promoted. A most moral film & one of the best Westerns I've ever seen. Unforgettable. Also, fun fact: this is apparently Clint Eastwood's favorite movie.

  • joey Noodles's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    Damn, I've seen some very very good films over the past few days, but this takes the cake. The Ox-Bow Incident is one of the greatest westerns ever made, a bleak and depressing picture, I really wasn't expecting this. It is a better and more powerful study of humanity than anything Bergman ever did, and you get so very very caught up in the film and involved. It moved me to tears. 5/5

  • João Eça's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    this superior western about america's own growth from an anarquich land to a law-abiding country (the necessary process to the evolution of a civilization, as one of the characters says) is a very good picture from the great (and much forgotten) William Wellman. the cinematography and the acting are amazing. it is, perhaps, a little theatrical and slow at times, but it also has its splendid moments of great cinema.

  • Jason's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    That The Ox-Bow Incident was made during WWII and at least twenty years before the civil rights movement bespeaks an admirable determination to get a point across. A point not likely to be popular. Luckily Wellman got it made before the height of the McCarthy era, when nobody would have dared bankroll it. People who abhor unsubtle politics often look down on Ox-Bow. But it is an A #1 marvel. Fonda's shielded eyes!

  • callum mclaughlin's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    A camera pans over the faces of a dozen bloodthirsty men and what we see is the ever-moving face of hysteria. In front of these men stand seven more men, their morals outnumbered, and the camera remains static, static like their conviction. What's at stake are innocence and truth as a deadly soundtrack suffocates the barren air. Only God can intervene now. 'The Ox-Bow Incident' is a masterclass in great filmmaking.

  • waywardwaters's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    More so than simply a stewing of conscience in god fearing men, The Ox-Bow Incident goes beyond morality play of prejudgment and wu wei (harnessed by the all too relevant cognitively dissonant romantic subplot) the tyranny of majority rule as a governing system. Conservation of law and order presupposes an individual right, hardening the drifter in implementing justice over “democracy” with no woman or heir.

  • Th MZA's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    Fonda's handsome cowboy is a decoy in this police non-procedural, which cares more about how a town creates/enacts its own morality than about a mysterious outsider's disturbance of it. The clash between the older actors' more theatrical styles & Fonda's subtler cinematic acting mirrors the lynch mob's stampede over cooler heads. Wellman's denouement's eye-hiding camera angle shifts shame outward into the audience.

  • Howard Fritzson's rating of the film The Ox-Bow Incident

    Prior to Montgomery Clift, there has rarely been as vulnerable an actor as Dana Andrews. Not even Henry Fonda. Clift and Andrews had demons they were battling. Clift could reach deeper but both expressed their pain simply and eloquently.

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