1968’s Hang ‘Em High is Clint Eastwood’s first American Western and the first film of his production company Malpaso, marking it as a significant entry in the canon of American westerns. Following the journey of a lawman who survives his illegal lynching, it explores the fine line between justice and revenge set against the backdrop of the hangman’s noose! This is a film that may in fact be the definitive film on the western trope of hanging, although it has more than a few ideas it doesn’t fully articulate. It ends up being a lot more fun as a studio style western, featuring a roster of great character actors, such as Ben Johnson, Pat Hingle, Bruce Dern, LQ Jones, Ed Begley and Dennis Hopper. It also offers a look at the coming style of 70s Westerns, in their dark, non-photogenic ugliness of both complexion and theme! The conversation spends much of its time exploring the meaning and significance of hanging in the westerns, but also manages to snake around to a lot of undeserved slandering of Pat Hingle, Eastwood’s West contrasted with John Wayne’s, references cited in Blazing Saddles, the weakness of Inger Stevens’ female lead, Eastwood’s handsome manliness and the villain’s surprising sense of poetic irony. In the end, I think Hang ‘Em High isn’t a particularly noteworthy film, but that said, it’s kind of just fun to see Clint Eastwood and a bunch of character actors doing western stuff at one another, with a lot of hangings. Great movie for hangings. And yeah, Dad’s sound is off a bit in this one. It’s my fault, but you can hear him fine.

We talk briefly of some other movies we’ve watched of late, such as Swiss Army Man and Hunt For the Wilderpeople, and Dad talks a bit about catching little bits of westerns on TV, and we ponder about how to cover some of those on the show. If you have any ideas about that, or requests for movies, or requests for TV, why not, email them to us at westernswithdad@gmail.com, and also please visit us on iTunes to rate and review the podcast. It’s in our best interest! Next time on Westerns With Dad, we’ll be talking about the newly Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water, something we’ve been building up to since it came out last August.

Hang ‘Em High was directed by Ted Post and stars Clint Eastwood, Pat Hingle, Inger Stevens, Bruce Dern, Ben Johnson and a bunch of others.

3 thoughts on “HANG ‘EM HIGH!”

  1. Just saw this last night! Exploring more Westerns now, with Eastwood as an entry point, so I’m bound to get suggestions here. There was so much to like, but some muddled messages.

    1. Hansel, may I suggest Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter”. It would be a good podcast for Matt and Scott to do this Halloween because there’s a ghostly quality to it.

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