How well do you remember the movie Hang em High?

By: John Miller

"Hang 'Em High" was released in 1968. What sort of movie is it?

"Hang 'Em High" is a stark Western. It cast off many of the trite glibness of 50s Westerns for a darker, more realistic tale.

Who is the star of the movie?

By 1968, Clint Eastwood had already made a name for himself playing edgy Western characters. In this one, he portrays a man named Jed Cooper.

The story takes place in the Wild West. What's the setting?

The story is set in the Oklahoma Territory in the late 1880s. The territories were dangerous and uncivilized places in the late 19th century.

As the movie opens, Jed is driving cattle when he's accosted by a group of men. They accuse him of what?

The men accuse Jed of stealing the cattle that he's driving across the territory. Jed shows them a receipt for his purchase of the cattle.

Jed paid good money for the cattle. But what's wrong with the transaction?

Jed unknowingly bought the cattle from a thief -- one who murdered the herd's rightful owner. The men who have Jed cornered think that he murdered the owner and then stole the cattle for himself.

This was the first movie ever made by Malpaso Company. Who was in charge of this famous company?

Eastwood founded Malpaso Company, now known as Malpaso Productions. "Hang 'Em High" was the company's very first production, but it was by no means the last.

Who directed this famous film?

Ted Post was in charge of direction. Post did a lot of work with the Western genre, including TV shows such as "Gunsmoke" and "Rawhide."

The group of men confronts Jed about the cattle. What do they do?

The posse grabs Jed and lynches him. He dangles in the breeze, slowly dying.

How is Jed saved from his desperate situation?

As he is strangling, a federal marshal named Dave Bliss rides in and cuts Jed free from the noose. Bliss is played by a regular Westerns actor named Ben Johnson.

How much did it cost the studio to make this 60s-era film?

"Hang 'Em High" cost about $1.6 million. Thanks in large part to Eastwood's star power, it more than recouped its investment.

About how much did the film make at box offices?

The film grossed around $7 million at box offices. It's still popular today with people who enjoy Eastwood's early works.

The marshal saves Jed's life and then does what?

Marshal Bliss arrests Jed and takes him to a judge named Adam Fenton. Judge Fenton decides that Jed is, in fact, innocent of theft and sets him free -- but warns him not to chase down the men who hanged him.

What does the judge have to say about the men who tried to hang Jed?

Judge Fenton wants the men tracked down and arrested. He thinks they should have to stand trial for attempting to kill Jed.

Clint Eastwood did his own stunts in this film.

Eastwood argued that he should be allowed to do his own stunts. The stunts were tough. In one, he's dragged across a river with a rope around his neck.

The film is partly a commentary on which subject?

"Hang 'Em High" directly addresses the issue of capital punishment and crime. How much justice is served when humans are allowed to take another person's life?

What happens with Jed after the judge lets him go?

The judge makes Jed a federal marshal, complete with a badge and a gun. It's not long before Jed runs into the men who tried to kill him, and he must decide how to proceed.

What happens when Jed tries to lawfully arrest one of the men who tried to hang him?

Jed tries to arrest a man named Reno, but Reno pulls a gun. Jed has no choice but to shoot and kill him.

Eastwood has the starring role in this film. What other job did he perform?

Eastwood was the leading tough guy in this movie. It was also the first film in which he worked as a producer.

From the beginning, Eastwood knew that his new production company would be incredibly successful.

Eastwood founded Malpaso Company mostly just to help smaller independent filmmakers create their work. Instead, his tiny company turned into a major film production company.

Jed arrests three men for cattle rustling. What does the judge order?

Judge Fenton sentences the three men to death for cattle rustling, in spite of Jed's pleas to spare their lives.

Jed continues to pursue the rest of the men who tried to kill him. What do the men decide to do?

The men pool their money and try to buy Jed's peace. They simply want to be left alone, but Jed can't forget that these men tried to murder him.

What does Jed say about the attempted bribery?

Jed takes the money. And then he implies that in spite of the cash, he's still going to hunt down his enemies.

The movie is set in the Oklahoma Territory. Where was it filmed?

Most of the filming took place in southern New Mexico. It included locations near White Sands, Las Cruces and the Rio Grande River.

Leonard Freeman is credited as producer. Why wasn't he allowed on set?

Freeman arrived on set one day and drove the crew nuts by bossing them around. Eastwood told Freeman (who was also his friend) that he needed to leave and not come back, otherwise, there would never be a film.

The movie garnered mostly positive reviews. It also received three Oscar nominations.

"Hang 'Em High" did very well with critics and immediately turned a profit. But it was blanked during the nominations period.

Why did some critics find "Hang 'Em High" to be an artistic letdown of sorts?

Some critics saw the film as artistically inferior to previous Eastwood films directed by Sergio Leone. But as the years went by, more and more critics grew to appreciate the film's stark, bleak appeal.

Jed is shot by the men he's hunting. Who keeps him alive?

A local woman named Rachel helps Jed survive his wounds. The two begin a romantic relationship.

Inger Stevens plays Eastwood's love interest. How did the two get along in real life?

Stevens and Eastwood got along so well that they had an affair that lasted beyond filming. Stevens remarked that she'd be happy to "work" with Eastwood anytime.

Jed eventually catches up with the leader of the men who tried to hang him. How does the man die?

Unwilling to face Jed's wrath, the man gives up the fight. In a bit of poetic justice, he hangs himself.

What happens at the end of the movie?

As the movie ends, Jed decides to keep his federal marshal badge. He becomes a force for the law in the Wild West.

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About This Quiz

In the late 60s, stereotypical Western films were slowly but surely dying, and the genre took a darker turn. Enter Clint Eastwood, the anti-hero cowboy. How much do you know about "Hang 'Em High"?

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