Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #163 High Noon

In Uncategorized on March 14, 2011 at 12:03 AM

Movie #163 High Noon

(1952, US, d. Fred Zinnemann)

I haven’t started my Western phase yet. To be honest, I’ve only seen a handful of them. But after watching this film and reading up on it a little, it seems inconceivable to me that High Noon should be beaten. I know I’ve been saying this a lot recently, but please take this as a compliment to my movie selection rather than as a personal weakness of mine in judging, but this movie is truly one of Hollywood’s best. Though criticized on its original release by moviegoers for not being a traditional Western, it is this exact quality that makes it praiseworthy today. Save for the last 10 minutes, there are no chases, no fights, or even action sequences in the film. Rather, it depicts a desperate search by Marshal Will Kane (played by Gary Cooper) to find a crew to help him face a gang of outlaws before they arrive on the noon train. Consisting mostly of moralistic dialogue, High Noon, according to Zinnemann, is about a conflict of conscience and should be considered as a “cousin to A Man for All Seasons”. Not a single soul will help Kane fight, for various reasons. They all stand and watch as he battles four outlaws to save the town he has protected his whole career. Another characteristic that sets the film apart? It’s told in real time. The film starts at 10:35, runs for 85 minutes, and is over at 12:00PM – after the showdown. An obvious allegory to the Red Scare and McCarthyism, the film is more of an ode to its screenwriter, Carl Foreman, who was forced to flee the US before the release of the movie. None of his peers would help him, for fear of being persecuted themselves, and no one would stand up against the evil that was transpiring. John Wayne would called it the most “un-American” film he’d ever seen, but with all due respect, that’s a big load of crap. The first thought I had was how American I felt watching it. High Noon is about independence, justice, refusal to back down, and fighting for what’s right. What’s more American than that?

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