The Hanged Man (1974) starring Steve Forrest, Dean Jagger, Will Geer, Sharon Acker, Brendon Boone directed by Michael Caffey Movie Review

The Hanged Man (1974)   3/53/53/53/53/5

The Hanged Man (1974) starring Steve Forrest

The Resurrection of Devlin

Having been arrested James Devlin (Steve Forrest) is facing the gallows which he does without fear as he calmly assists in the dishing out of his own punishment earning him the respect of those in authority who are being harassed by the town's folk to see Devlin hung. But something strange happens as after Devlin is hung, pronounced dead by the doctor and taken to the church he somehow comes back to life. With the execution having been legally completed he is free to go although his girlfriend Soledad (Barbara Luna) rejects him leading to Devlin leaving town. He ends up at the struggling mine of widow Carrie (Sharon Acker) and son Benjamin (Bobby Eilbacher) where he learns that they are being harassed by Halleck (Cameron Mitchell) the owner of the local silver mine and so decides to help her.

Evidently "The Hanged Man" was intended as a pilot for a TV series which I presume would have seen the mysterious Devlin going from town to town where he would help someone in need be it from a vicious businessmen to trouble with outlaws. It never got picked up and I can't say I am sorry as whilst "The Hanged Man" gives us an interesting idea and a reasonable climax the rest of it is incredibly ordinary. When you think about it "The Hanged Man" would have had to have been something special to have worked when the 70s was very much the end of the then western era with very few impressive westerns being made.

But as I said "The Hanged Man" does serve up an interesting idea and that is the whole set up of Devlin having gone to gallows a calm man, accepting his punishment in a calmer manner than any of those who were going to hang him. And then we have the idea that after being proclaimed dead Devlin comes back to life which is an idea which gives so many possible ideas from Devlin being mistakenly pronounced dead to him actually being an angel, maybe an avenging angel or just a man given a second chance to lead a life of helping others instead of one just helping himself. The trouble is that once Devlin rises again what happens is text book western, a story so old that when western movies were first being made it was being used and it is a let down and for me the reason why "The Hanged Man" never got picked up.

As for the acting well Steve Forrest is okay as Devlin and the calmness he gives the character in the early scenes certainly helps to make him a mysterious character but not exactly a character who you are drawn to. Aside from Forrest there are plenty of familiar faces such as Dean Jagger and Will Geer but their characters are just typical of the western genre.

What this all boils down to is that "The Hanging Man" could have worked with its interesting set up to the character of Devlin but after that it ends up as just a routine western and not a very interesting one at that.