Derik Badman's Journal

2021-08-11 08:22

Continuing a western streak I watched The Ox-Bow Incident. It's a taut plot that you almost immediately know is not going to end well. Townsfolk get up in arms about a rancher friend of their's who has been killed, hear news of some men taking cattle through a pass, and form a posse to go get them and hang them. A few characters stand out for their varying opinions on the matter from the virulently angry, to the joyously excited, to the reluctant and the vocal opponents of the mob action. Henry Fonda is the reluctant opponent, at first most concerned that he and his partner (a young Harry Morgan), will somehow get implicated, as they are familiar in the town but sort of outsiders (I guess they live... somewhere nearby). The store owner and the preacher most vocally speak out, while the deputy (the sheriff is away) and a former army major seems most enthused. The whole plot plays out over less than a day (mostly overnight), driving inexorably to the lynching and then the conclusion you know will come... they got the wrong men. There are moments where it comes off as a message picture, and I think the adaptation from a novel shows through at times. I expect some of the characters would have a little more clarity if we were given some background info on them, like the one woman that goes along with the lynching and seems particularly excited about it (for some reason?). There's also an almost pointless scene where Fonda's character runs into his old girlfriend coming back to town with a new husband. Nothing really comes of it and it seems like part of a subplot that got axed. All in all, though it's well shot, well acted, and an interesting take on the genre and it's tendency towards vigilante justice.

Been reading The Decameron in chunks (read a day of stories, read some other books, return for another day of stories). I just finished the third day, all 10 stories which seemed to be heavily focused on sex and subterfuge. They are pretty much all about using trickery to get sex (most often it involves tricking a husband). I know somewhere I've read about the one before where a religious man teaches an innocent young woman about "putting the devil back in hell." But hell likes having the devil there and soon the devil gets too tired to keep going back. One thing the book doesn't shy away from is the idea that woman are often enthusiastic participants in sex and in seeking same, which feels perhaps unexpected at the time, given the strangle hold of the Church on so much of life at the time (and certainly the stories don't shy away from mocking the church figures, often shown as hypocritical).