As a youth eddie came into town with his gang to rob the bank but was caught & convicted. Marshal ben helped him to become an honorable citizen. Many years later the gang returns to rob the bank. When they shoot the marsha... more »l. Eddie is the only one to identify the murderer - but questions who he should be loyal to. Studio: Sony Pictures Home Ent Release Date: 04/05/2005 Starring: Fred Macmurray Run time: 85 minutes Rating: Nr« less
"Fred MacMurray starred in several westerns in the fifties, and "Good Day for a Hanging", released in 1959, is an engrossing "duster" that holds your attention throughout. It raises issues such as capital punishment, loyalty, duty, family and the nature of justice.
A gang of outlaws holds up a bank and escapes, with the popular town marshall and a posse in hot pursuit. During a shoot-out in the hills, the marshall is shot dead by one of the gang. The youngest member of the gang, Eddie Campbell ( Robert Vaughn in a terrific performance ), is wounded and brought back to town by the posse. Posse-member, Ben Cutler ( Fred MacMurray ), is sure that young Eddie is the outlaw who shot the marshall, although he convinces townspeople that there should be a fair trial, rather that a quick lynching. Ben reluctantly agrees to take over as marshall, which soon causes problems with his bride-to-be, Ruth Granger ( attractive Maggie Hayes ), and his daughter, Laurie ( petulant Joan Blackman) who has a crush on Eddie ( Ben is a widower ). This, however, is a horse opera not a soap opera--there are fisticuffs, gunfights, a very tense trial scene and an excellent showdown at the end of the film.
Today I suspect most people remember Fred MacMurray as the affable and immensely likeable star of TV's "My Three Sons", and a number of Disney films. Film buffs know that,in fare such as "Double Indemnity" and "The Apartment", Mr. MacMurray could also be effective in less sympathetic roles. In "Good Day", he certainly has an edge to his performance, and gives us a convincing western hero. In addition to the intense Mr. Vaughn, we have a "pre-Virginian" James Drury as Dr. Ridgely, doting on Laurie Cutler, but unable to distract her from her obsession with young Eddie. Western fans will spot such actors as Denver Pyle, Gregg Barton, William Fawcett, Harry Lauter and the ubiquitous Tom London in supporting roles.
I see that the movie was produced by Charles H. Schneer and directed by Nathan Juran, better known for their collaboration with stop-motion effects master, Ray Harryhausen.
I found the widescreen, colour picture quality to be excellent--the sound typical for films of this vintage.
If you like westerns, Fred MacMurray may not be the first name you would think of. However, he was a fine actor, and was right at home throwing punches or lead ! "Good Day for a Hanging" delivers a "good" ninety minutes of western suspense and excitement. Recommended."
The Other Side of The High Noon Coin
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 03/17/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Good Day For A Hanging, a solid and entertaining Western, bookends nicely with a much more heralded 50's Western, High Noon. High Noon, in addition to dealing with courage and personal responsibility, dealt with the problems of enforcing law in a society that is afraid to protect itself from imminent criminal activity. This film deals with the frustrations of properly punishing criminals once they are caught.
Fred MacMurray stars as a store owner who joins a posse chasing bank robbers. One of the bank robbers is a young punk played by Robert Vaughn, who also is very friendly with McMurray's young daughter. During the ensuing chase, the elderly and much loved town sheriff is killed by Vaughn, who is in turn shot and captured by McMurray and the posse.
MacMurray becomes acting sheriff, and pushes forth the prosecution of Vaughn. But to MacMurray's utter amazement, the town begins to sympathize with Vaughn,to the point that no one wants to believe that he is guilty. MacMurray's dogged pursuit of justice causes him strained relations with everyone in the town (especially his daughter) except the young town doctor, played by James Drury.
Well acted and written, this film continues where High Noon left off by indicting those who are always screaming for law and order, but do not have the will to enforce it. It is great that this film is being released on DVD."
Steven Hellerstedt | 05/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A town marshal is shot and killed while pursuing a group of fleeing bank robbers. Community pillar Ben Cutler (Fred MacMurray) reluctantly agrees to become the new marshal. Cutler, a member of the outlaw-chasing posse, wounds and apprehends the trigger man, bad boy Eddie `The Kid' Campbell (Robert Vaughn.) With Vaughn as a troubled youth - he never had a chance given the way he growed up - and MacMurray the middle aged, moral man at odds with the apathetic town he defends, think of GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING as a mixture of The Blackboard Jungle and High Noon, with a shady defense attorney and an extended courtroom scene thrown in for good measure. The 1950s were the decade of message westerns, or a least westerns with a social sense and an accusatory finger to point. 1959's GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING isn't as strident as some of that era, but it's serious in its way, flaying a bit of the flesh of the fickle and apathetic townfolks while deifying the last honest man. Fortunately, GOOD DAY possesses the reassuringly mellow presence of MacMurray as the man behind the badge, calming whatever worries we may have harbored that GOOD DAY will get too carried away with whatever message it's trying to deliver. My expectations were fairly modest for GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING, and I'm happy to say I wasn't disappointed (wasn't pleasantly surprised, though, either.) A traditional western with a competent cast, recommended especially for fans of the genre. "
A Solid, If Flawed, 50's Western
Erik Rupp | Southern California | 04/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Good Day For A Hanging features Fred MacMurray in what is more of a character drama than a standard Western. MacMurray plays Ben Cutler, a former Marshall who gets caught up in the aftermath of a bank robbery gone wrong. A gang of bank robbers botches what was otherwise a well planned robbery of the town bank, only to be chased out of town by the Marshall and a makeshift posse. During the chase the Marshall is shot and killed, with all of the posse as witnesses. The shooter, Eddie "the Kid" Campbell, is wounded, but relatively unharmed before he is brought back to town.
It is here that the movie shifts to a solid character drama, as a prominent defense attorney shows up to take Campbell's case. Campbell grew up in the town and the attorney begins to plant the seed of reasonable doubt in the members of the posse - leading to a conflict with Cutler. Campbell is convicted on the strength of Cutler's testimony, but the townspeople begin to doubt Cutler's motives as they wonder if there really was enough evidence to convict the Kid. A movement in town grows to try to get the Kid's sentence commuted to life in prison, creating a conflict with Cutler, who is determined to see the sentence carried out.
Good performances from MacMurray and Robert Vaughan (as Campbell) help Good Day For A Hanging become as entertaining and engrossing as it is. The dialog and laid back style are very much in line with some TV Westerns, but it's all just a cut above that level. The direction from Nathan Juran is good, and sometimes inspired, and the cast does a good job of portraying a very tight-knit, family oriented town where everyone knows each other.
While Good Day For A Hanging isn't at the level of the best Westerns from the 50's (like Winchester '73, The Searchers, Warlock, Last Train from Gun Hill, The Man From Laramie, etc), it is still a good movie and well worth your time if you are a fan of the genre.
3 1/2 Stars."
A fine Western, underrated
B. Cathey | Wendell, NC United States | 04/16/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At the end of the decade of the 1940s Columbia Pictures was producing and releasing both Gene Autry and Durango Kid series "B" Westerns, and doing well with them. During the 1950s, Columbia upgraded to more expensive fare, and produced a number of fine color Westerns with such solid actors as Randolph Scott, Fred MacMurray, and others. GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING was one of several that MacMurray did for Columbia (also notable is FACE OF A FUGITIVE), and it's a very good one. MacMurray has a unique style in just about everything he does (as anyone who remembers "My Three Sons" will recall!)--more meditative and quizzical, but always likeable. He shines in GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING, and manages to convey a resolve and determination that is also at the same time very human. This is no super-hero, but rather a man of real emotions, and thus identifiable with most viewers. In the end MacMurray's reasoned determination, albeit tested severely, is proven correct.
Production values and print quality are excellent; Columbia (Sony) continues to release some fine Westerns from the 1940s and '50s (e.g., THE VIOLENT MEN, LUST FOR GOLD, JUBAL, COWBOY, THE DESPERADOES, HANGMAN'S KNOT, several of the Durango Kid series, etc.), and GOOD DAY FOR A HANGING is one of the better ones."