This is one of those odd instances where both the book and the movie are equally good. I do however have to give the edge to the movie version simply from the silent fury of Henry Fonda’s piercing eyes.
The Ox-Bow Incident is part-Western movie, part racial drama. The story focuses on two drifters who pass through a Western town and hear that a farmer has been murdered and cattle has been stolen. The small town gets all up-in-arms about it and demands justice. They start searching for the killers/thieves and find three men camping in the woods who just happen to have cattle with them. Thus, guilty by possession occurs and instead of putting a bullet in their heads or just arresting them, the mob decides a lynching is in order.
As good as Fonda is, Anthony Quinn is equally and devastatingly good as Juan Martinez. A 1944 Best Picture Oscar-nominee, Ox-Bow is an examinaition into how easily we as a people get swept up into the so-called “mob mentality.”