In 1873, on the Gold Trail, Montana, the mysterious and controlling Dr. Joseph Frail arrives in the small town of Skull Creek with miners in a gold rush. Dr. Frail buys a cabin on the top of a hill and he sees the smalltime thief Rune wounded and chased by a mob that wants to hang him. Dr. Frail helps and heals Rune; but in return, he demands that the young man becomes his bond servant. The alcoholic healer and preacher George Grubb tells to the locals that Dr. Frail, who is an excellent gambler and gunfighter, is a devil and has a mysterious past but nobody gives attention to his words. Soon the stagecoach is robbed by thieves that kill the passengers but the coachman survives and three days later he reaches Skull Creek. He tells that the horses had speed down the hill with a young woman inside the stagecoach. The men organize a pursuit and the rude Frenchy Plante finds the Swedish Elizabeth Mahler burnt and blind. Dr. Frail and Rune take care of her and they learn that Elizabeth and...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Gary Cooper and Maria Schell.....they made it seem real!
Gary, for that movie, was Doc Joe Frail. Maria, sister of Maximilian Schell, became Elizabeth Malher. Everything that happened to Frail seemed real. He healed Elizabeth's blindness but feared loving her because of his past. There was the guilt from the tragedy he carried, the fear of someone finding out. The jealousy and anger of people waiting and wanting to take Doc's life for his past and, mostly, the fortune.
Frenchy Plante is played by Karl Malden. He is a fortune hunter with a drinking problem. Karl was one of two directors who made this film. Delmar Daves was in charge of the beginning and middle. Karl did the finishing work. By that time, Mulden had 20 movies under his belt.
George C. Scott is Dr. George Grubb, a Bible toting, Scripture spouting fiend. He is not a particularly nice person. He targets Doc Frail and goes after him. This is Scott's first credited role and he carries it off very well.
Jerry Livingston does the title theme. "The Hanging Tree". It was sung in the movie by one of my favorites, Marty Robbins. He, also, made it popular to the public through radio and records. Now I have a CD of "The Best of Marty Robbins" that I have introduced to my grandson. I want him (and our other grandkids) to know about something besides today's music.
Just for some aside information: The only cast member, of this movie, still living is Karl Malden. He turned 94 in March of 2006. Wow, what a life he's had!
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