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High Noon

USA 1952
produced by
Stanley Kramer for Stanley Kramer Productions/United Artists
directed by Fred Zinnemann
starring Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, Katy Jurado, Grace Kelly, Otto Kruger, Lon Chaney jr, Harry Morgan, Ian MacDonald, Eve McVeagh, Morgan Farley, Harry Shannon, Lee Van Cleef, Robert J. Wilke, Sheb Wooley, James Millican, Guy Beach, Jeanne Blackford, Larry J. Blake, Howland Chamberlain, Virginia Christine, Cliff Clark, John Doucette, Paul Dubov, Jack Elam, Dick Elliott, Virginia Farmer, Tim Graham, Tom Greenway, Harry Harvey, Nolan Leary, Tom London, Merrill McCormick, William Newell, William 'Bill' Phillips, Lucien Prival, Ralph Reed, Ted Stanhope, Slim Talbot
screenplay by Carl Foreman, based on the story The Tin Star by John W. Cunningham, music by Dimitri Tiomkin, song performed by Tex Ritter

review by
Mike Haberfelner





The Old West: It should have been the perfect ending to a successful career as a lawman: Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) marries the prettiest girl in town, Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), and then they skip town to start somewhere else afresh, running a hardware story, while the townspeople know Kane has left the place a haven of law and order. But the wedding's not even over yet when word reaches Kane that Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), a homicidal outlaw Kane has hoped to have put away for good, has been released from prison, and his gangmembers Colby (Lee Van Cleef), Pierce (Robert J. Wilke), and his brother Ben (Sheb Wooley) are already awaiting him at the train station as he's due to arrive with the 12 o'clock train. And everybody knows, Frank will have vengeance on his mind, vengeance directed at Kane. At first, Kane plans to skip town with Amy, like he originally intended to, but his conscience weighs just too heavy on him, and he decides to stay to guard the city, even if Amy threatens to leave him, and buys herself a ticket on the train that Frank Miller is to arrive with to that effect. Initially, Kane thinks driving Miller out of town won't be a big thing, all it needs is a posse to impress him and his gang by sheer numbers. But wherever Kane turns for support, doors are closing on him, be it the saloon or the church, and even his two deputies bail on him, one (James Millican) out of cowardice, the other, Harv (Lloyd Bridges) out of ill-directed jealousy, as does his old mentor, the former Marshall (Lon Chaney jr - in real life 5 years Cooper's junior). Meanwhile, Amy meets Kane's old flame, Helen Ramirez (Katy Jurado) - incidently the source of Harv's jealousy -, and she opens her eyes about what kind of a man Kane is, so much so that she ultimately does not board the train to leave.

Shooting it out with Miller and company, Kane holds his own fairly well, but it's not long before he's weighed down by their numbers, and he would have walked into an ambush if it wasn't for Amy, against her nature and all her beliefs, would have picked up a gun and shot one of the Miller gangmembers. Miller eventually takes Amy hostage, but when she fights back, that's all the distraction Kane needs to move in for the final kill. With the streets cleaned, the locals flock out to celebrate "their" hero, but he just throws his tin star into the dirt and leaves in disgust with Amy.

 

A success at the box office back in the day and awarded with 4 Oscars as well as 4 Golden Globes back when, this movie's popularity has only grown over the years, and today High Noon is known as one of the most iconic westerns of all time - even if on closer inspection, the film is all but your typical western and more of a parable on human nature and especially cowardice, and of course back in the day it could be understood as an allegory for McCarthyism and the resulting Hollywood-blacklisting. But the film works even without these reference points as it feels real, Gary Cooper in one of his finest performances, makes the desparation of his character palpable, as do the other characters in their sometimes not so noble attitudes - down to the finale that defies genre convention by giving the leading lady a very active role. In all, a deserved classic for sure.

 

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review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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On the same day
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you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD