High Noon (Theaters-1952; DVD-May 2004) Rated: TV-PG — Runtime: 84-85 minutes
els – 8.5/10
IMDb – 8.0/10
Amazon – 4.7/5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes Critics – 8.8/10
Rotten Tomatoes Audience – 4.0/5
Metacritic Metascore – 89/100
Metacritic User Score – 8.4/10
Awards: 4 Academy, 4 Golden Globes
Directed by: Fred Zinnemann
Written by: Carl Foreman
Music by: Dimitri Tiomkin
Cast: Gary Cooper, Lloyd Bridges, Grace Kelly
Film Locations: Burbank, Columbia State Historic Park, Iverson Movie Ranch, Jamestown, Tuolumme, Wanerville; all in California, US
Worldwide Box Office: $8,000,000-18,000,000
Will Kane (Gary Cooper), a soon to be retired lawman from a small, quite, town of dusty streets in old west New Mexico, is getting married and taking his new Quaker wife (Grace Kelly) away for a fresh beginning in another town; to raise a family and run a store. Moments before they are to leave they learn that Frank Miller, a convicted murderer that Kane and a local judge captured, convicted, and sent to prison has received a pardon from the governor. Miller is coming in on the noon train to settle the score. Waiting at the train station for Miller is his younger brother and two other shifty varmints, eagerly providing guns and muscle to back him up in his all-consuming quest for revenge. Kane attempts to round-up a pose to face Miller and his gang, but all the town folk decline and insist, instead, that he leave town, a suggestion heartily supported by his pretty young wife. Knowing that if he ran Miller would follow, Kane stays to make his stand now rather than later: alone.
A truly classic western filmed in black and white under Foreman’s spartan script and directed by Zinnemann in real-time at a parsimonious and fast pace. The stark cinematography provides the tension inherent in the plot, always pushing the viewer onward to the next scene, straight ahead or around the corner. The acting was absolutely first-rate. Gary Cooper won a best actor Oscar for his efforts and had a supporting cast that included some of the greatest names in Hollywood; Lloyd Bridges, Grace Kelly, Otto Kruger, Eve McVeagh, Thomas Mitchell, Henry Morgan, and Lon Chaney Jr. What a lineup. Finally the movie included the legendary theme song Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’ aka The Ballad of High Noon written by Dimitri Tiomkin and preformed by Tex Ritter; a hardy but forlorn synopsis of the movie’s plot.
The film, when previewed for the press was greeted with derision. Due to the critics proclaiming the movie a failure the producers decided not to release the movie. Tiomkin then bought the rights to the theme song and released it with Frankie Laine singing the lyrics, becoming an immediate worldwide hit. Because of the public’s positive reaction to the song, the movie was released a few months later, eventually garnering Tiomkin 2 Oscars for movie’s theme song and score.
The movie, released in 1952, played in theaters during Korean War and McCarthy’s Red Scare: the hunt for communists in US government and private institutions, especially Hollywood. The movie was, and still is, believed to be an allegorical expression of the downtrodden, the just David standing tall against the unjust and unproven allegations. Standing up to the Goliath known as Joseph McCarthy. During this time being branded, with or without proof, by the scarlet, hot iron C of communism was the end of many careers in the US. The movie tried to push back and with all things Hollywood, feigned righteous innocence.
Without, or maybe even with, the knowledge of the Red Scare, the movie today is seen more as good versus bad without the partisan grey over-prints. The right and the small meeting the wrong and the mighty. Fighting the good fight whatever the odds. Being small doesn’t make you weak. Being alone doesn’t make you wrong.