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I grew up in the 50's, watching Cowboys, WWII, detective, etc. movies. For better or worse, my uncle always pointed out the reality of the events portrayed:
See that boulder the posse just rode past? A minute later they will ride past again at full speed from the other direction.
If someone breaks a chair over your head you aren't going to be able to get up and fight more.
You can't stand up in a foxhole to throw a grenade 200 feet at an enemy machine gun nest that has you pinned down.
A horse can only gallop full speed for 2 minutes max, not 20 miles to catch up with a gang that has a full day lead.
I first saw High Noon when it was released in 1952, I was a 10 y/o. I truly appreciated that the newlyweds stood by their own moral codes, yet wondered what would happen after the good guy killed all the bad guys coming to kill him. That's how all westerns ended in those days.
I was astonished to see the last bad guy standing fall to a bullet from a peace loving Quaker woman. Women in the wild west 100+ years ago were not prissy wimps. The were strong and determined, having lived through the hardship of a multi month cross country journey, Many moved with their families to scratch out a living from the land. Life was hard for all, and women handled more than their share.
It's been 67 years, and I don't remember the details of all the action, or the supporting characters, but to me, this was reality.
When Stanley Kramer and Fred Zinnemann united I expected a tedious moralizing tale that took itself far too seriously and doled out cheap platitudes in favor of serious, deep consideration. This film does have many of the issues that I believed it would have but fortunately it is only 85 minutes and some of the moralizing is toned down when compared to a smug piece of Oscar bait like Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967). The film is competent in presenting a fairly straightforward message and the fact that it commented on the McCarthyism at the time provides it with some added social relevance. I wouldn't call one of the top 100 films of all time as the American Film Institute did or even a particularly good film but is a passable piece of entertainment that manages to incorporate a worthy message.
Marshal Will Kane, Gary Cooper, has served the small town of Hadleyville, New Mexico for years but has finally retired to marry the young Quaker Amy Fowler, Grace Kelly, whom he plans to own a shop with. They intend to depart shortly after their wedding but when the announcement comes that Frank Miller, Ian MacDonald, who had previously been jailed by Kane will be coming into town with a gang to shoot Kane down he faces a dilemma. Fowler encourages him to run away with her but he believes that they will come after them if they do that and intends to stay in town and gather a posse of locals to defend himself and his honor. He discovers that he cannot convince anybody, including his oldest friends and allies, to stand by him while his ex-lover Helen Ramírez, Katy Jurado, ponders whether to leave with Fowler. Kane eventually has to stand alone against the men but finds unexpected support from his new wife.
The film is paced briskly which is much appreciated as many westerns seem to stretch a story that could have been told in an hour and a half out to three hours. We establish that Kane is a kind man beloved by his community in the opening scenes as he is happily wedded to an attractive young woman and appears to have an easy retirement on his horizon. Happily we don't get any more of this extraneous set up as the conflict is quickly brought in to play and the majority of the rest of the film is spent building up the hostile atmosphere of the town and the character of Kane. Zinnemann allows for somewhat odd interactions between Kelly and Jurado that often felt unnecessary but it was nice to see some women in a genre largely dominated by men. Where the film really comes to life however is in attacking institutions that were untouchable at the time as very few filmmakers would have dared to go against the Church or present any member of law enforcement in a negative light. Zinnemann does seem to delight in going against the grain for once as his career was largely spent making dull prestige pictures that towed the line such as The Nun's Story (1959) and A Man for All Seasons (1966).
Cooper is also unexpectedly good in the lead role as he conveys an anger and world weariness that hadn't been present in his work in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) which he seemed to be sleepwalking through. He is particularly effective when portraying disappointment and reproach as those he trusts do not provide him with support and his wounded pride plays nicely as it subverts his ruggedly masculine image. It's not the best male performance of the year, although the Academy certainly thought so, as Laurence Olivier in Carrie (1952) out acts him by a mile. The rest of the cast are decidedly less excellent as Kelly gets typecast as the ideal woman with her icy blonde looks and consistently pleasant facial expressions but offers little in the way of passion or any real change. Jurado fares slightly better as she makes her character more than a Latina stereotype but some of her line deliveries fall flat and she gets little to do.
I would recommend that people see this film because it presents a lot to like but don't go in expecting a truly fantastic film.
Impactful film that highlights responsibility, loyalty, and revenge. Even more powerful when up hear the films history with Hollywood blacklists , etc.
Greatest western ever made
Grandpas favorite western
Imagine a great film without cursing or nudity. Yes, they used to make them that way. Gary Cooper renders one of the great performances on the screen.
I could not believe that a westren with almost no shootouts nor action scenes, can be so entertaining ,so many brilliant things in this film just the way it generated the suspense using a clock on the wall a few men waiting for a train .
High Noon is an intense and thought provoking western classic and an example of classic Hollywood at its finest
On the day he gets married and hangs up his badge, Marshal Will Kane is told that a man he sent to prison years before, Frank Miller, is returning on the noon train to exact his revenge. Having initially decided to leave with his new spouse, Will decides he must go back and face Miller. However, when he seeks the help of the townspeople he has protected for so long, they turn their backs on him. It seems Kane may have to face Miller alone, as well as the rest of Miller's gang, who are waiting for him at the station.
High Noon plays out in (real time) through its 90 minute running time
.High Noon endures -- in no small part thanks to Gary Cooper's defiant, Oscar-winning performance ; stylishly directed and featuring fine supporting performances from Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell, Katy Jurado, Lee Van Cleef and Lon Chaney. Other Oscars: the low-key score and the narrative tune "High Noon ("Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin')". Well worth seeing.
A zenith by Zinnermann.