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High Noon (1952)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 8.8/10
Reviews Counted: 47
Fresh: 45 | Rotten: 2

A classic of the Western genre that broke with many of the traditions at the time, High Noon endures -- in no small part thanks to Gary Cooper's defiant, Oscar-winning performance.

100

Average Rating: 8.3/10
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 0

A classic of the Western genre that broke with many of the traditions at the time, High Noon endures -- in no small part thanks to Gary Cooper's defiant, Oscar-winning performance.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 24,130

My Rating

Movie Info

This Western classic stars Gary Cooper as Hadleyville marshal Will Kane, about to retire from office and go on his honeymoon with his new Quaker bride, Amy (Grace Kelly). But his happiness is short-lived when he is informed that the Miller gang, whose leader (Ian McDonald) Will had arrested, is due on the 12:00 train. Pacifist Amy urges Will to leave town and forget about the Millers, but this isn't his style; protecting Hadleyburg has always been his duty, and it remains so now. But when he

PG,

Western, Mystery & Suspense

Carl Foreman

Oct 23, 2001

United Artists

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All Critics (47) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (2) | DVD (22)

High Noon combines its points about good citizenship with some excellent picturemaking.

July 26, 2011 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Zinnemann carefully and deliberately makes the most of the mood cast by the threat of impending violence.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Some of the results ring false, but the memorable theme song and some equally memorable character acting (by Thomas Mitchell and Lon Chaney Jr. more than Lloyd Bridges and Katy Jurado) help things along.

September 4, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

High Noon won a fistful of Oscars, but in these days of pasteboard screen machismo, it's worth seeing simply as the anatomy of what it took to make a man before the myth turned sour.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

More than a half-century later, Foreman was right after all: High Noon is a scorching and sour portrait of American complacence and capacity for collaborationism.

April 27, 2004 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Regarded as '50s melodrama, it's nearly perfect.

May 30, 2003
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

High Noon isn't really a masterpiece, and if you're a fan of more honest Westerns, it's hard not to notice Zinnemann's general lack of interest throughout. But it is a tense, effective little film.

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

File under 'classic'.

July 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Deserving of its label as a true classic, and essential viewing.

July 26, 2011 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

Tense 1950s Western is still a cinema classic.

December 24, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Carl Foreman's brilliant screenplay pays due respect to each character, no matter how sad or loathsome.

October 18, 2008 Full Review Source: Bullz-Eye.com
Bullz-Eye.com

One of top five westerns of all time w/Cooper's Oscar winning role. Powerful.

March 8, 2008 | Comment (1)
Video-Reviewmaster.com

One of the essentials

April 20, 2007
Atlantic City Weekly

One of the most overestimated Westerns in film history, High Noon is schematic and more of a reflection of the times in which it was made than the classic it's considered to be, though Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly are excellent.

July 29, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A simple, somewhat creaky tribute to defiant courageousness.

May 4, 2005 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Drop-dead brilliant Western Noir.

April 3, 2005
eFilmCritic.com

Generates claustrophobic suspense by focusing on three images: Kane's increasingly tense, pained expression; implacably ticking clocks; and the ominous, empty train tracks.

August 22, 2004 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
Decent Films Guide

Can be enjoyed simply because it's so well done.

April 30, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

...plays on the psychology of its characters and situations; an oater with insight and introspection...thought over action.

December 4, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

THE great American Western.

November 28, 2003
Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)

quintessential Western that transcends the genre

September 27, 2003 Full Review Source: Old School Reviews

Audience Reviews for High Noon

As influential and highly praised High Noon is in the genre, it's never really been copied or imitated, in fact Westerns since have shied away from its overall feel and idea. That's because Westerns represent capitalism. It's mostly why they are full of villains, ownership and an every man for himself attitude. High Noon is a liberal allegory for blacklisting, McCarthy's red-baiting being at the forefront of the swipe. Many top names declined the leading role due to it's political undertones, many didn't get the chance because they were grey listed but it seemed fitting that active liberal Cooper got the part. The fact that John Wayne hated it so much makes me love it even more, it really is the Western for people who don't like Westerns. John Wayne was a fool. Makes you wonder if being un-American is to be American or if being American is un-American. Either way, John Wayne was an ass. Politics aside, the picture is beautiful, with a lighter than usual tint added for maximum effect. What a cast too, it's a who's who of Hollywood's most overlooked actors of the 1950s.
February 13, 2014
SirPant

Super Reviewer

In an era of flamboyant and charismatic westerns, High Noon takes a turn in a somewhat darker direction. The film does a remarkable effort to highlight the suspenseful moments before it dwindles down to the climatic showdown. The music and score also plays well to reflect the pride-filled moments. Finally, the film is epitomized by the Oscar-winning performance by the resilient Gary Cooper. High Noon is a new direction in westerns that changed the face of the genre and film in the years ahead. 4/5
April 11, 2013
Eugene Bernabe

Super Reviewer

John Wayne once called this the most Un-American film he'd ever seen because he didn't like it's subtext which was very critical of McCarthyism and red-baiting during the Red Scare. Looking at the film now, yes, you can still see shades of that social commentary, but its impact has waned some over the years. However, it is still nevertheless an absolutely fantastic story of one man standing up against unfavorable odds while no one else will stand alongside him.

What makes it even more great is the fact that somehow the film manages to keep the tension at a very high boil all the way through up to and including it's suspenseful climactic showdown. Also, it does all this, gets the point across, and has it all wrapped up in just under 90 minutes, but still provides wonderfully written and developed chasracters. Bravo.

Marshal Will Kane is on the verge of retiring from his position as head lawman in the town of Hadleyville. Just minutes after getting married to his Quaker bride Amy, his packing for his honeymoon is interrupted when news gets out that a man he put away back in the past has just been released, and is on his way to Hadleyville to rendezvous with three of his henchmen to get his vengeance on Will.

Faced with some tough decisions about how to deal with all of this and decide which direction his life should take, Will finds himself all alone as everyoen he turns to ends up being cowardly and unwilling to help him out in what could very well be his most dire time of need.

All in all, this is a superb western. It's wonderfully written, unbelievably taut and gripping all the way through, and not onyl does it feature Grace Kelly's first major role, it also is the film debut of a young Lee Van Cleef. Gary Cooper is great in the lead, and there's some nice work from Lloyd Bridges and Lon Chaney Jr. as well.

WIth some good music, excellent, cinematography, and fairly sharp direction, this routine story is brought to life and made fresh and memorable. It's a bummer the subtext has lost some of its impact over time, but I do applaud it for being something risky at a time when being critical of the Red Scare was something to tread lightly around.

Definitely give this one a watch. It's one of the top westerns ever, and just one heck of a memorable ride.
March 4, 2012
cosmo313
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

Amy: Don't try to be a hero! You don't have to be a hero, not for me! 

"Simple. Powerful. Unforgettable."

Whenever the best films of the western genre are discussed High Noon is always at the top of the list. It's as influential as any movie in the genre, and it's plot has been used many times since. It's a movie that isn't long and doesn't have much action. It's all build. We watch as a marshall desperately tries to get some support from his fellow townspeople, but as he continues to try we see, it's just not going to happen.

A Marshall must postpone leaving his town with his new wife, when he finds out a gang of killers are going to return. He is alone in his fight though as some of the townspeople are friends of the killer, some are too afraid of the killer, and some are just unwilling to help. 

I can see why a lot of people love High Noon. It is a great exhibition of the power of building a story to a final shootout. It's undoubtedly a genre staple and a classic film in general. I just can't help feeling like it isn't as great as I had heard. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I didn't love this film like I though I would. I enjoyed it, I liked it. I just didn't love it.

This is far from perfect in my opinion, but still well worth the watch, especially if you are a fan of the genre. Plus it has Grace Kelly, so it is sort of a must watch.
February 26, 2012
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

    1. Amy Kane: Don't try to be a hero! You don't have to be a hero, not for me!
    – Submitted by Willie J (19 months ago)
    1. Amy Kane: Then what is it? Why is he staying?
    2. Helen Ramirez: If you don't know, I cannot explain it to you.
    – Submitted by Zbigniew Z (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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Foreign Titles

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  • High Noon (UK)
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