High Noon: western reborn

June 9, 2003, midnight | By Anna Schoenfelder | 20 years, 10 months ago

High Noon, Fred Zinnerman's classic fifties film, recently played at the Silver Spring AFI in all its spare, western glory. Clean direction, clean acting, and clean videography come together in this powerful, moving story of a man who stands alone for his beliefs.

Will Kane (Gary Cooper) had just retired from town marshal to honeymoon with his new wife (Grace Kelly) when he learns that trouble is coming to town on the noon train. Despite many entreaties, no one in the town of Hadleyville will help Kane face the ex-convict Frank Miller and his crew. The movie consists of events leading up to the final western-style shootout at the end. There are a few complications in the simple plot; most notably, the commanding presence of Helen Ramirez, Kane's ex-mistress, who has an interesting confrontation with Kane's wife near the end of the film.

The black-and white color palette only adds to the general atmosphere of loneliness and introspection. Repeated shots of clocks build suspense as the movie progresses, in near-real time, towards noon. Gary Cooper, who had health problems during the shooting, does an incredible job of showing the pain that Kane endures, especially near the end of the film when he must come to terms with his own mortality.

High Noon entertains while addressing the importance of social responsibility. Carl foreman, the writer, was blacklisted for this screenplay, which was interpreted as a stab at McCarthyism. Some take the film as pro-war, with the villains as the Vietnam threat and Kane as the lone United States. Regardless of what the film is taken to mean, it remains a stunning portrait of a man forced to stand alone to prevent chaos.

Anna Schoenfelder. 04 real. Anna is a j-j-j-junior in CAP. She has a litterbox and it is very green. Her favorite activities include spinning, agitating, and mincing. She feels very prickly about the stirrup that she owns. She hopes one day to taste very good, and perhaps … More »

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