23 user 7 critic

Good Day for a Hanging (1959)

Passed | | Western | January 1959 (USA)
After claiming his daughter's childhood-sweetheart killed the marshal, one man finds himself in conflict with his daughter, his fiancée and many of the townsfolk.


Nathan Juran


Daniel B. Ullman (screenplay), Maurice Zimm (screenplay) | 1 more credit »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Fred MacMurray ... Marshal Ben Cutler
Margaret Hayes ... Ruth Granger (as Maggie Hayes)
Robert Vaughn ... Eddie Campbell
Joan Blackman ... Laurie Cutler
James Drury ... Paul Ridgely
Wendell Holmes Wendell Holmes ... Tallant Joslin
Edmon Ryan ... William P. Selby, Attorney
Stacy Harris ... Coley
Kathryn Card ... Molly Cain
Emile Meyer ... Marshal Hiram Cain
Bing Russell ... George Fletcher
Russell Thorson ... Harry Landers
Denver Pyle ... Deputy Ed Moore
Phil Chambers ... Deputy William Avery
Howard McNear ... Olson


It's been more than twenty years since Ben Cutler (Fred MacMurray) wore a badge, but when the town's bank gets robbed, he joins the posse. After the chase, where he saw Marshal Cain (Emile Meyer) get killed, he can't say "no" when the town asks him to take over the Marshal's duties. However, that same town starts to turn against him when he takes his new duties seriously by arresting and testifying against the killer... a boy, Eddie 'The Kid' Campbell (Robert Vaughn), who grew up in this town and comes from a broken home, garnering the sympathy of the townsfolk, who'd rather believe one of the other escaped bank robbers shot the sheriff. This is compounded by his daughter, who still has a crush on Eddie, even though after his mother died two years ago, he left town with not a word to her since. She, too, is convinced that Eddie is still that good little boy everyone remembers, and can't believe he's been changed, by his new life of riding with outlaws. Written by AzRanger {ArizonaRanger @ Hotmail . com}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Even when he kissed her... he held a gun! See more »




Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

January 1959 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Dois Passos da Forca See more »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)


Color (ColumbiaColor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The theme song for 3.10 To Yuma [1957] is played frequently here especially in scenes involving Vaughan and Blackman See more »


When Ben is talking to Molly Cain on the widow's front porch, her mailbox can be seen on the fence in front of her house. The movie is set in 1870, but the postal service didn't start delivering to rural mailboxes until 1903, and that style of mailbox wasn't invented until 1915. See more »


Ruth Granger: Eddie is just a boy. Tom was killed by a hardened criminal.
Ben Cutler: Do you think this kid is any less hardened? Since when is a young rattlesnake any less poisonous than an old one?
See more »

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User Reviews

An Eastern/Western
8 May 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

On a peaceful day in a small western town in Nebraska in 1878, a bank robbery occurs and Marshal Emile Meyer is killed pursuing the gang. But citizen Fred MacMurray, a former marshal, kills one of the gang and wounds the one who he saw shoot Meyer.

It was Robert Vaughn a young kid who was a former resident of the town who left some years earlier. It's now obvious what he took up doing after he left. MacMurray's daughter Joan Blackman is kind of fond of Vaughn even though she's been keeping company with the young town doctor, James Drury.

Good Day For Hanging has some good intentions and other reviewers have faulted for having the cast speak in modern idiom. That's not the film's problems, it's trying to graft a 20th century urban plot on a 19th century rural western situation.

Try as I may, I can't believe that these frontier townspeople are so squeamish about hanging this punk. Even as Vaughn claims, he did not do the actual shooting of Meyer, he's as guilty of the murder of this peace officer whether he pulled the trigger or not. The attitude expressed in such films as True Grit and Hang 'Em High is far more typical of the times than Good Day For A Hanging.

Of course in all this MacMurray is called to put on badge again and it's his testimony that actually convicts Vaughn. Still public opinion gradually turns against him for what I can see, no discernible reason. The controversy puts a strain on his relationship with Blackman as well as with fiancé Margaret Hayes.

Best performances in the supporting cast are from Edmon Ryan who plays more of a modern defense lawyer in this western. Still he does do a fine job. And I particularly liked Kathryn Card as Meyer's widow. Her scenes count and you will remember her performance over everyone else's in Good Day For A Hanging.

Fred MacMurray was not overly fond of westerns. In his salad days with Paramount he only did one, The Texas Rangers and during the fifties he did a few of them before becoming a Disney star. His famous quote was that he never felt at one with the horse'. His riding scenes were probably doubled, but in the scenes in town MacMurray acquits himself admirably.

But this one in the last analysis was an eastern/western.

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