Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hangman's Knot

One of the pleasures of watching these old Westerns is the unexpected discovery of familiar names from ASJ in the credits. Hangman's Knot, from 1952, is such a movie. It was written and directed by Roy Huggins and co-stars Jeanette Nolan.

It's about a group of Confederate soldiers, led by Randolph Scott, who, not knowing the War is over, steal gold from a Union wagon and shoot the soldiers guarding it. They find themselves trapped in a stagecoach way station with the father and daughter who run it and two passengers from the stage they commandeered to escape what appears to be a posse.

From then on, the plot bears a superficial resemblance to Stagecoach Seven as Scott tries to figure out how he and his men can avoid getting killed by the erstwhile posse, which is really just a group of drifters posing as deputies, who have surrounded the building they are in. Nolan plays a woman whose son was one of the soldiers guarding the gold; her character is completely different from Miss Birdie Pickett in the Pilot and I wasn't even sure it was her until I looked up her character at

Two other features reminded me of ASJ: There is a travelling medicine wagon in early scenes of Hangman's Knot, similar to that in Witness to a Lynching (although the man who owned it was not a quack like Doc Snively), and oil is poured on water and fire to provide more light to see what people are doing, just as was done in The Day They Hanged Kid Curry when the boys try to escape from the cave in which they were hiding.

There is lots of action in this movie along with personality conflicts among the soldiers and their hostages in the stagecoach station, which makes this 80-minute movie very entertaining to watch.