Robert Taylor in “The Hangman” 1959

The Hangman was Robert Taylor’s first independent film after leaving MGM. In later years, he would describe it as one of his failures. Like many Taylor movies, it’s an unusual twist on a familiar subject. Mackenzie Bovard, a Deputy Marshal, is famous for his ability to catch criminals who are later hanged. Bovard is cynical and world weary with a poor opinion of his fellow humans. Pursuing a robbery suspect, he meets the young and lovely Tina Louise. Through his relationship with her Bovard gradually regains his faith in humanity and becomes a much warmer and more likeable person. This is far from a typical western–no fight scenes, no gorgeous scenery, no evil villains. As another reviewer noted, it’s a drama set in the old West. It’s about responsibility, right and wrong and personal development and growth. Taylor is excellent, as always, in his understated way. Tina Louise is good as a young woman who changes from a drab loser to a confident woman. Mabel Albertson is wonderful as a middle-aged woman who has the hots for Taylor (who can blame her?). Fess Parker, post Davy Crockett is effective as a town Sheriff and his laid back persona makes a good contrast to the driven, more intense Taylor. Perhaps not a classic but definitely worth watching and owning.

I don’t know why Mr. Taylor disliked the film so much.  Perhaps he was uncomfortable working outside of MGM.  The film has humor, romance, a moral and some good acting.  Robert Taylor wasn’t as well photographed as he was at MGM.  Since he was never specific about his dislike, it will be one of many mysteries he left behind.

Frame grabs:

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The young woman is Tina Louise, pre Gilligan’s Island.

Promotional materials:

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With Fess Parker and Tina Louise.

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On the set:
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A light moment with Tina Louise.

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About giraffe44

I became a Robert Taylor fan at the age of 15 when his TV show, "The Detectives" premiered. My mother wanted to watch it because she remembered Mr. Taylor from the thirties. I took one look and that was it. I spent the rest of my high school career watching Robert Taylor movies on late night TV, buying photos of him, making scrapbooks and being a typical teenager. College, marriage and career intervened. I remember being sad when Mr. Taylor died. I mailed two huge scrapbooks to Ursula Thiess. I hope she got them. Time passed, retirement, moving to Florida. Then in 2012 my husband Fred pointed that there were two Robert Taylor movies that evening on Turner Classic Movies--"Ivanhoe" and "Quentin Durward." I watched both and it happened all over again. I started this blog both for fans and for people who didn't know about Robert Taylor. As the blog passes 200,000 views I'm delighted that so many people have come by and hope it will help preserve the legacy of this fine actor and equally good man.
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6 Responses to Robert Taylor in “The Hangman” 1959

  1. Kendra says:

    thanks for your review, Judith! I enjoy atypical Westerns but I haven’t watched The Hangman yet. I like the pictures you post very much!

  2. June says:

    A pretty accurate description Judith. It was a low key release here and cannot recall it being played on cable and in fact I had only seen the once in a theatre many years ago. However, when I was visiting your country 2 years ago to go with my friend Janie, to the 100th Year Birthday Celebration, I ordered a copy from a US online store and it is now part of my RT collection. I really enjoyed it although I thought Robert Taylor acted a bit more sombre than the part required, nevertheless an interesting film with each character revealing layers in their personality as the film progressed.

    • giraffe44 says:

      You’re right. Our first impressions of the characters are not our final ones. The first time I saw it I was really surprised that Tina Louise chose Mr. Taylor over the younger Fess Parker. But I applaud her good taste.

  3. Thanks for sharing. I would love to watch it, but I don’t know where it will be showing. Any info on that? -another fanatic person about Robert Taylor, the late great  

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