Hangman’s Knot

Hangman’s Knot (1952)
Around the end of the Civil War, Major Matt Stewart (Randolph Scott) leads a successful ambush against a Union gold wagon. After wiping out the Union guards, they find out the war is over. Instead of an act of war, Major Stewart and his men will be regarded as murderers and robbers. Their last chance to prove their innocence is destroyed when Rolph Bainter (Lee Marvin) kills their liaison, a man who could have informed Major Stewart of the war’s end, but chose not to because he wanted the gold for himself.

Things go from bad to worse when a collection of armed riffraff masquerading as peace officers get on their trail and trap them in stagecoach station. Molly Null (Donna Reed) and Lee Kemper (Richard Denning) are stagecoach passengers. Molly is an army nurse with a strong sense of duty. She initially despises Major Stewart as she regards him as a murderer and thief. Kemper has been wooing Molly but she has proved hesitant because she is suspicious of his character.

This is the first movie in which Lee Marvin had a significant role and he does a good job of playing a coldblooded killer, a role he would repeat many times in his film career. There is plenty of action and drama in this movie, numerous plot twists, fine acting, and gorgeous photography. I strongly recommend it.

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