High Noon

1952

High Noon

Critics Consensus

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.

96%

TOMATOMETER

Reviews Counted: 50

89%
liked it

Audience Score

User Ratings: 25,339

TOMATOMETER

N/A
All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0

AUDIENCE SCORE

89%
Average Rating: 4/5

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Movie Info

In this classic western, a marshal prepares to retire from law enforcement because of his marriage to a Quaker. But upon learning that four outlaws will converge on the town at noon to kill him, he is torn between his sense of duty and his love for his pacifist bride.

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Critic Reviews for High Noon

All Critics (50) | Top Critics (9)

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

    Jul 26, 2011 | Full Review…
    TIME Magazine
    Top Critic
  • Zinnemann carefully and deliberately makes the most of the mood cast by the threat of impending violence.

    Oct 18, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Sep 4, 2007 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top 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.

    Apr 27, 2004
  • Regarded as '50s melodrama, it's nearly perfect.

    May 30, 2003

Audience Reviews for High Noon

The bad guy, who's a really bad guy, the guy sent to prison after luckily getting caught, the guy promising way violent revenge, he's out. And he's coming back. And that's the set up for this most modern of Westerns, wherein an entire town, much less the sheriff, wait for the coming doom of one angry outlaw ... and his gang of hoods. Their fear and how they react is really what the film comments on, on how any of us handle fear, and then what we manage to do about it, whatever lofty ideals we might profess to uphold. The Jesus story goes West (asking where we stand insofar as our beliefs go) packs a six gun and waits out alone on main street, alone to face the worst, to face the Devil, to face the future, whatever it brings ... I love this movie.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

At first the character's irrational insistence to stay in the city may be a puzzle for the viewer (and an infuriating contrivance), but soon it reveals a fascinating complexity about him in this superbly edited Western that relies on a visceral performance by Cooper (and his bleeding ulcer).

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

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

Eugene Bernabe
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.

Chris Weber
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

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