Written by Carl Foreman (who was later blacklisted during the anticommunist hearings of the '50s) and superbly directed by Fred Zinnemann, this 1952 classic stars Gary Cooper as just-married lawman Will Kane, who is about ... more »to retire as a small-town sheriff and begin a new life with his bride (Grace Kelly) when he learns that gunslinger Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) is due to arrive at high noon to settle an old score. Kane seeks assistance from deputies and townsfolk, but soon realizes he'll have to stand alone in his showdown with Miller and his henchmen. Innovative for its time, the suspenseful story unfolds in approximate real time (from 10:40 a.m. to high noon in an 84-minute film), and many interpreted Foreman's drama as an allegorical reflection of apathy and passive acceptance of Senator Joseph McCarthy's anticommunist campaign. Political underpinnings aside, this remains a milestone of its genre (often referred to as the first "adult" Western), and Cooper is flawless in his Oscar-winning role. --Jeff Shannon« less
"High Noon is a classic tale of a man who is torn between his duty and love. Gary Cooper stars as Will Cain, a sheriff of small town Hadleyville, NM, who has just gotten married to Amy played by Grace Kelly. Amy is a Quaker and in deference to her pacifist beliefs, Will is turning in his badge. But just as the newlyweds are preparing to leave town for a new life, Will learns that a criminal, Frank Miller, he put behind bars is being paroled and arriving in town on the 12 noon train for a showdown. Tension fills the air as the anticipated showdown draws closer. Amy begs for Will to leave with her, but he knows he can't run away. He must stay and defend the town and his honor. Will finds himself alone in the battle as everyone in town, including his deputy sheriff Harvey Pell, played by Lloyd Bridges, have turned away from him. The film is just a little over 80 minutes long and it unfolds in essentially real time on the screen. Director Fred Zinnemann effectively uses clocks to convey the time ticking away towards the battle. The movie is filled with tension as the showdown draws near and Mr. Cooper brilliantly plays his part for which he won his second Best Actor Oscar. Tex Ritter, John's father, sings the Oscar winning song, "Don't Forsake Me" which perfectly captures the essence of the film. High Noon is not only a classic western, but a classic American film."
New High Noon 2-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition due out Ju
Sanpete | in Utah | 03/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Lionsgate has announced a new DVD release of High Noon with new special features. There is what appears to be a reliable report, though unconfirmed, that it will include a new transfer of the film, restored by Paramount. The current and older DVDs are only of average video and audio quality.
This a true classic, combining traditional Western themes with contemporary concerns about popular acquiescence to evil, done in a gripping, unusual (nearly real-time) way, with great actors.
Town marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) is caught between his new pacifist Quaker wife Amy (Grace Kelly) and a felt duty to face down evil men coming on the noon train to take revenge on him (and presumably cause whatever other trouble they please). Most of the drama takes place in the lead-up to a climactic battle, as the townspeople choose whether to support Kane with action or to let him stand alone. Amy too must choose between her spouse and her own moral beliefs. The tension builds relentlessly as we see clocks ticking towards noon. The innovative black and white cinematography emphasizes the dramatic points, while the internal drama is captured in Cooper's face.
The new DVD features are these:
-- "Inside High Noon," a 50-minute documentary on the making of the film (see below for more on this) -- "Tex Ritter: A Visit to Carthage, Texas," on the Tex Ritter Museum -- the full performance of "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" from the Jimmy Dean TV Show
The features carried over from the current release are:
-- commentary with Gary Cooper's daughter Maria Cooper Janis, screenwriter Carl Foreman's son Jonathan Foreman, director Fred Zinneman's son Tim Zinnemann and Tex Ritter's son John Ritter -- "The Making of High Noon" featurette -- "Behind High Noon" featurette -- radio broadcast with Tex Ritter
Whether the new features will warrant an upgrade is a matter of personal preference, of course. A 50-minute documentary could be quite interesting, if it's well done.
It does sound interesting. The "new" documentary, actually made a couple years ago but shelved until now, is by film and Gary Cooper expert John Mulholland. It's expected to cover, among other things, the conflict between Cooper and John Wayne over the participation of the blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman. Given that the film is intended in part as an allegory of the public's acquiescence in the Red Scare, this will have more than the usual gossipy behind-the-scenes relevance. It includes interviews with three of the children of the principles who participated in the DVD audio commentary: Cooper's daughter Maria, director Zinneman's son Tim, and Foreman's son Jonathan. There are also interviews with Grace Kelly's son Prince Albert of Monaco, Western and film historians Brian Garfield, Lee Clark Mitchell, Stephen Prince and Meir Ribalow, and High Noon fan President Bill Clinton. The narration is by actor Frank Langella.
Lack of agreement between Paramount and Lionsgate prevented the earlier release of a restored transfer and the documentary, in case you're wondering why this didn't come out before.
(Amazon has a habit of removing or not even accepting outside links, but if you want to read more about this, some of the more interesting tidbits are from a discussion at hometheaterforum. Just do a web search for "high noon" plus "ultimate collector's edition" or "inside high noon" and such keywords to find the links--easy to find.)
A parting note on the ethical side of the film. While everyone can appreciate the strength of Cooper's character and the contrast to the weakness of others, which is no doubt the intended moral focus, we can wonder why the seemingly parallel choices facing Will and Amy are treated differently, with one portrayed heroically for choosing perceived broader duty over duty to spouse, while the other is seemingly approved in doing the opposite (those who have seen the movie will be able to see how that is). I'm not sure writer Foreman saw that parallel as I put it here, and maybe there are good reasons to argue they aren't really parallel. It could be a statement about the limits of pacifism, or it could be a reflection of other cultural mores that Foreman didn't question. Or it could be largely motivated by the need for a certain kind of ending. I'm not a film historian, so maybe these questions have already been addressed. If so, feel free to leave a comment about it."
The tin star in the dust
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 02/05/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is the quintessential Hollywood western. It will continue to represent the genre for many decades to come.
It stars Gary Cooper, one of the most beloved of leading men who personified soft-spoken heroic courage in scores of important films, including Beau Geste (1939), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Along Came Jones (1945), The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), etc., and Grace Kelly in her debut role. Directed by Fred Zinneman, whose credits include From Here to Eternity (1953), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Julia (1977) and a dozen more, High Noon tells the story of Will Kane, a small town marshal who, on his wedding day faces a man just let out of prison with three of his outlaw friends who are aiming to get revenge for his being sent up.
The enduring image of the film is Gary Cooper walking tall in the deserted streets of the town in a black Western hat, a black vest, long-sleeved white shirt, black string necktie, watch chain, boots, and low slung holster and two belts, while off to the side inside the wooden buildings we see "that big hand move along, nearin' high noon"--which is when the train arrives carrying the freed prisoner.
Will Kane has cleaned up the town, but now the gunslingers return and he is their target. His wife of less than an hour (Kelly) demands that he leave town. The town itself, in fear of the gunmen, also wants him to leave town, hoping to take the fight away from them. He tries to recruit deputies but everyone is afraid. Even his lone deputy (Lloyd Bridges) deserts him. In the background is Dimitri Tiomkin's haunting ballad, sung by Tex Ritter: "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling (On This Our Wedding Day)." Both Cooper and the song won Oscars. Noteworthy was the fine performance by Kay Jurado as ... Ramirez, Cane's ex, a shrewd barroom lady and proprietress.
What is interesting about the moral conflict (from the story, "The Tin Star" as interpreted for film by screenwriter Carl Foreman), that of facing your enemy rather than running, is that Kane's rationale is logical. If he runs they will only come after him again and again. Only two people get this, Kane and Ramirez. The larger moral issue of whether to fight to defend yourself (Grace Kelly is cast as a Quaker and does not believe in killing) is resolved during the climatic shootout by Grace Kelly's character herself in a manner that did not set well with Quakers.
How well does this black and white classic Western play today? The town people seem cliches and the outlaws are quickly drawn, but Gary Cooper as Will Kane seems entirely believable, admirable, heroic in the best sense of the term as a man who knows the dangers, feels the fear, and yet must act, and he does. He is no shallow, two-fisted, machine-gun hero so often seen in Hollywood productions, but a man of maturity whose "grace under pressure" (a fine definition of courage) tells us and himself who he really is.
See this for Gary Cooper whose "slow-talking, slow-walking," (lyrics from the Coaster's hit song from the fifties, "And Along Came Jones"), and soft-spoken heroics delighted and enthralled a couple of generations of film-goers."
flickjunkie | 11/05/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
""High Noon" is frequently mentioned among the best Westerns and even among the best films ever made. It is rated #33 by the American Film Institute on their top 100 of the 20th century. It was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including best actor for Gary Cooper, best song and best editing. But, was it really that good? After all, it was a bare bones black and white Western in an age of Technicolor spectaculars.It was that good and more. "High Noon" was not really a Western as the genre had been defined to that point. It was more of a character study of the human condition. It just happened to be set in the American West. Westerns at that time were action films with white hats and black hats. There were fistfights and gunfights throughout the entire film. They clearly differentiated good guys, on the side of justice and righteousness, from bad guys who spurned laws and sneered at those who obeyed them. The heroes were always noble and fearless, typified by actors like John Wayne and Roy Rogers. Moreover, the good guys always stuck together, despite all odds, to prevail against the outlaws."High Noon" was the complete antithesis of this formula. Kane is a flawed hero who is proud to a fault. Although it is clear who the villain is, we never see him until the last ten minutes of the film. The story is not about good and evil in the larger sense. Instead, it is about conviction and integrity on a personal level. Kane is portrayed as stubbornly putting his own feelings above the safety of the town. He stands against everyone, willing to sacrifice his marriage, his friendships, his good name and his life for his honor and self-respect. The biggest departure from the formula was his unabashed manifestations of fear. This was unheard of for a Western hero.Controversy swirled around this film, released in 1952 amid the Red Scare and the McCarthy Era. The fearful and selfish townspeople who turned their backs on Kane were seen to be allegorical of the movie industry that abandoned those who were blacklisted as communists. Many in the industry saw it as smug slap in the face. John Wayne called the film "un-American", preferring to think that Americans would always stick together to fight injustice, ignoring the reality of numerous branded actors who couldn't get work. Stanley Kramer, in an interview forty years later, continued to deny that there was any hidden agenda. He said it was a film about human nature, and the coincidental fact that there was such a striking parallel was just an indication that human nature doesn't change.The vanguard direction by Fred Zinnemann was nothing short of brilliant. Zinnemann eschewed the Western formula and struck out in a completely different direction. He chose black and white to give it a stark look. The sky was overcast rather than sunny and blue. The entire film was shot for only $700,000 (an extremely small sum even for 1952) almost completely on a studio lot. This was the first Western, (and possibly the first film) to tell a story in real time (the story transpires in roughly the same amount of time as the length of the film). The villainous Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) was known only through dialogue and he did not actually appear until the end of the film. Zinnemann hung the pall of Miller ominously in the air like an evil spirit who was feared but unseen. This made the villain bigger than life and added to the suspense. Even when Miller finally arrived on the noon train, Zinnemann didn't let us see his face for a full two or three minutes, showing him strapping on his guns from behind and talking to his gang. Finally, there was no action until the very end of the film.He uses two very effective techniques to build suspense. The first is the use of clocks. In the beginning of the film, they were small clocks in the background that had short pendulums that swung quickly. As we got closer to noon, the clocks got bigger and the pendulums swung more slowly making them more menacing. At noon, the clock took up the entire screen as we waited for the last tick and the train's whistle.The second technique was the repeated use of a static vista looking down the railroad tracks from ground level with no train. This was a constant reminder that Frank was coming. This created an extraordinary amount of tension. Tinnemann's use of reaction shots and the editing by Harry Gerstad and Elmo Williams (who won an Oscar) were also brilliantly done.The use of music was also innovative. Rather than a full orchestra pumping out heart pounding adventure music, we had a simple ballad featuring a harmonica and the voice of country great Tex Ritter. This haunting tune emphasized the loneliness of Kane's situation. The acting was marvelous. Gary Cooper is masterful as the tormented Marshall who stands against the entire town and his own fear to face down the Miller gang. This film launched Grace Kelly's career. She was not only shockingly beautiful but gave a fantastic performance as Kane's wife, who all but abandons him. Lloyd Bridges also shines as the hotheaded deputy. Other notables included Lon Chaney, Harry Morgan, Katy Jurado and Lee Van Cleef.This film redefined an entire genre. It has been called the quintessential Western, but that is too narrow in its praise. It is quintessential filmmaking, a perfect 10. It is required viewing for film buffs who appreciate the creative aspect of the art. Besides that, it's great entertainment."
HIGH TIME FOR HIGN NOON ON DVD
Robert C. Graham | OGMORE BY SEA, VALE OF GLAMORGAN United Kingdom | 06/04/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1952 writer Carl Foreman, director Fred Zinnemann, cinematographer Floyd Crosby and producer Stanley Kramer created a one-off recipe for a new kind of western. The ingredients; Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Grace Kelly, Lon Chaney, Henry and Otto Kruger interwoven with an unforgettable ballad written by Dimitri Tiomkin/Ned Washington and sung by Tex Ritter. The result is a movie with every second to be savoured.Made at a time when sprawling landscaped Technicolor shoot-em-up westerns were the norm, High Noon was filmed in high contrast black and white.Much of the film`s tension and excitement is due to the fact that each desperate minute that passes on screen is virtually equal to real time heightened by ever closening shots of clocks as noon approaches. Marshall Will Kane is played faultlessly by Gary Cooper in probably his finest role. Kane, afraid, yet courageous and dutiful to his friends and townsfolk finds that, in his hour of need, they turn their backs on him. Kane`s anguished face was not all acting because Gary Cooper was suffering from a bleeding ulcer during filming and was concerned over the fight scene with Lloyd Bridges because of back problems.A film of loyalty and of betrayal in which Kane is torn between his new wife, Amy (Grace Kelly) and his duty when he tells her Kane:They`re making me run. I`ve never run from anybody before.
Amy: I don`t understand any of this.
Kane: (looking at his vest watch) Well, I haven`t got time to tell ya.Crucially, as time passes and tension builds, she speaks to Kane`s old flame, Helen Ramirez (played by Katy Jurado)Helen: If Kane was my man, I`d never leave him like this. I`d get a gun. I`d fight.
Amy: Why don`t you?
Helen: He is not my man. He`s yours.When Kane does win through, with, finally, Amy`s help, his so-called friends then rally round to congratulate him. With contempt he throws his star in the dust and drives off with Amy.1952 was also `McCarthy` time. To some, unfortunately very influential people, High Noon was seen as `un-American`. Not long after writing the script, Carl Foreman was blacklisted. Listed too was Lloyd Bridges who didn`t work for a few years after and of course Floyd Crosby (after all he had filmed it!).High Noon is not only one of the best westerns ever made but one of the finest films ever created. Beautiful photography, outstanding minimalistic direction and taught editing with a screenplay magnificently performed by a superb cast. There can be few people who have not seen High Noon and even fewer who can recall the outstanding original theatrical print having viewed it only on VHS or as a tv broadcast. This DVD has transferred the sparkling high contrast images seen on the original 35mm negative. The image and sound quality of this DVD breathes new life into a classic making it as fresh and thrilling as it ever was.Robert C Graham (UK)"