With 'Blackthorn' in theaters, an excuse to assess the genre
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9. "The Ox-Bow Incident" (William A. Wellman, 1943)
At the center of William Wellman's brief but powerful "The Ox-Bow Incident" (from a novel by Walter Van Tilburg Clark) is a dissection of mob mentality that resonates no matter what the generation. Henry Fonda stars as a hero subordinated to the rash decisions of a mob set on hanging a trio based on questionable information-gathering. (Someone called it the ultimate Iraq War film.) It plays as an intriguing companion piece to another Fonda film, in which he succeeds in the face of another instant group-endorsed verdict -- "12 Angry Men" -- but nothing in its 75 minutes is as powerful as a line included at Fonda's request: "Hangin' is any man's business that's around."