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Track of the Cat  /  The Ox-Bow Incident

June 28, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Petrine Mitchum, William Wellman Jr. They will sign copies of their respective books, "Hollywood Hoofbeats: The Fascinating Story of Horses in Movies and Television" and "Wild Bill Wellman: Hollywood Rebel" beginning at 6 p.m.

Track of the Cat  (1954)

For several years, director William A. Wellman wanted to adapt this brooding novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark (who also wrote The Ox-Bow Incident).  When the studio compelled him to shoot the film in color, he filmed the snowy northern California setting in such monochromatic color as to simulate his preferred black-and-white look.  The story centers on a slightly unhinged family of backwoods pioneers.  Son Robert Mitchum is haunted by a marauding mountain lion, a symbol of evil in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe.  With this dark film, Wellman became one of the first Hollywood auteurs to explore 1950s baroque obsessions.  This Cold War western has been referred to as “CinemaScope's first genuine weirdie.”

Wayne-Fellows Productions, Inc.  Producer: John Wayne, Robert Fellows.  Director: William A. Wellman.  Screenwriter: A.I. Bezzerides.  Based on the novel by Walter Van Tillburg Clark.  Cinematography: William H. Colthier.  Editor: Fred MacDowell.  Cast: Robert Mitchum, Teresa Wright, Diana Lynn, Tab Hunter, Beulah Bondi.  35mm, color, 103 min.

The Ox-Bow Incident  (1943)

Director William A. Wellman used a restrained narrative style and classical visual composition to create this starkly realistic take on vigilante justice.  Two cowboy drifters witness a lynching of innocent travelers in cattle country.  Henry Fonda's performance as an outsider of humble origins responding to injustice recalls his young Mr. Lincoln and Tom Joad [The Grapes of Wrath (1940)].  The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won acclaim worldwide, although initial box office in the U.S. was slow.  A re-release the following year was more successful.

Twentieth Century Fox.  Producer: Lamar Trotti.  Director: William A. Wellman.  Screenwriter: Lamar Trotti.  Based on the novel by Walter Van Tilburg.  Cinematography: Arthur C. Miller.  Editor: Allen McNeil.  Cast: Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, Harry Morgan.  35mm, b/w, 75 min.