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Hangman’s House

Director: John Ford


After the entertaining but lightweight The Shamrock Handicap, Hangman’s House is a revelation, one of the great late silent films to rank alongside the finest work of Victor Sjöström, Alfred Hitchcock and F. W. Murnau. Its dreamy landscapes and sinuous tracking shots recall the Murnau of Sunrise and may even have recycled some of the sets constructed for that film at Fox; but these elements are used for very distinctive Irish purposes in a story of oppression and revenge, of romance thwarted and finally fulfilled. A youthful and handsome Victor McLaglen stars in his second role for Ford after several years of work in his native England and the mix of McLaglen, landscape, love and horse-racing looks ahead to The Quiet Man. So too does the presence of a certain vigorous extra in the cheering crowd at the race: an unmistakable John Wayne, who had recently been taken on by Ford as a lowly assistant around the studio.

Notes by Charles Barr

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