The Hanging Tree

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"How long will I have to work as your servant before we'd be even?"
"For as long as I say. Maybe forever. If I had let you bleed to death, you'd be dead forever."
  I'd heard a paraphrase of these lines and knew I wanted to review the movie.

In synopsis: Doc Frail saves Roan's life by removing a bullet from his chest. As Roan has no funds with which to pay for Doc's services, Doc requires him to become his bond servant. To ensure that Roan is agreeable, Doc threatens to produce the distinctive bullet removed from his chest which identifies him as the would-be sluiceway robber and a sure candidate for the hanging tree. What Roan does not know is that Doc has tossed the bullet away, never having any intent of using it.

The Hanging Tree stars George C. Scott as Grub, the backwoods preacher who gets his spirit from a bottle; Maria Schell as the lucky lady-- lucky because she is the sole survivor of a stage coach robbery, who becomes temporarily blinded by recall of the horrific robbery and her near-death experience, who is cared for by Doc Frail and falls in love with him only to be rejected; Karl Swenson as the storekeeper who knows a little about Doc Frail's past and seems to understand his heart; Karl Malden as Frenchy, the untrustworthy gold prospector who catches Roan robbing the sluiceway and shoots him. It is Frenchy who finds the lucky lady and later attempts to have his way with her; Ben Piazza as Roan, who becomes Doc Frail's bond servant after Doc digs-out Frenchy's bullet; and Gary Cooper as Doc Frail.

Except for the storekeeper who knew him before his arrival in the gold mining camp outside of Skull Rush, Doc Frail is viewed as a harsh man. Roan sees him as a man with the devil on his shoulder. The lucky lady cannot understand why he is not interested when all others are. Grub is fearful that Doc offers real hope for the ailing while he simply extorts what funds they have for his laying on of hands with no real hope for a cure and no chance of the miracles he claims.

They all knew his charity, but they focused on his harsher qualities: he gambled; he drank; he was reputed to be the fastest gun around; he kicks the stuffing out of Frenchy when he finds him attempting to take advantage of the lucky lady. They did not think long about the Doc Frail who accepted a little girl's kiss as payment-in-full for a bill her parents could not pay, or practiced medicine for the most part on credit. And when Roan and the lady finally strike out on their own, the storekeeper does not tell them that Doc Frail is secretly underwriting their efforts at gold mining, an effort begun by their desire to be rid of Frail, a man who never allowed himself to need anyone.

But Roan and the lucky lady do strike it rich. And in the end it is their wealth, given to the greedy men of the town, that keeps Doc from the hanging tree.

But now, a few more good lines:
----When Doc Frail lends Roan his horse to serve in a rescue party, he tells him to take care of his property, Roan responds, "Don't worry. I'll take good care of your property and your horse too." Do you hear 1 Corinthians 6: 20 "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's" here?
----When Roan pleads with Doc to leave and not tarry at the card table, and go up the mountain to the dinner the luck lady has spent the entire afternoon preparing, Doc tells him, "It's getting so you're minding my business too much. Aren't you a little confused about who owns who?" Do we also sometimes get the roles reversed, and want God to serve us? Is it more than sometimes?
---- When Roan finally has as much as he can take from Doc Frail and asks Doc for Frenchy's bullet, indicating he'd rather go to the hanging tree than continue to serve Doc Frail. Doc tells him he threw it out. Roan responds, "You mean I been working for you all this time and didn't have to?" Do you sense a frustration similar to when it appears that those who have not chosen to serve God are prospering more than you?
---- To force the lucky lady to forget the past, open her eyes and move forward with her, life Doc takes her to the edge of a cliff and leaves her, "...you are standing on the edge of a cliff. I don't advise you to go through life with your eyes closed." Of course, she opens her eyes and sees. A
nd it is also good advice for us.

And the Genesis of this project:
"How long will I have to work as your servant before we'd be even?"
"For as long as I say. Maybe forever. If I had let you bleed to death, you'd be dead forever."

Deuteronomy 30:19 (KJV) I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 

CG /SS