High Noon
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High Noon

Weston has always been a dominant form of entertainment. Decades before motion pictures became popular crowd would flock to fairgrounds where Wild West live were performed. This phase particularly court on England anything to do with the westward expansion of their former colony. One element that that permeated most forms of this entertainment was at its sole purpose was to entertain. Many in the audience may have felt the didactic aspect performances but these shows were there to propagate sensationalistic myth over facts. Many gunslingers and law men would retry into such shows. It is only natural when movies and television took center stage as the primary form most entertainment that the rest of would be in the vanguard of the popular offerings. Once again, shows meant to be purely entertaining. During the 1950s something started to change. On television shows like ‘Gunsmoke’, began to investigate some of the social issues. Stalwart main protagonist, Marshall Matt Dillon had to face more than the usual Indian raids and bank robbers. He was placed in a position to contend with prejudice and the other negative parts of our society at the pioneers of them on the rest of expansion. One of the first movies to infuse deeper, darker themes into arrested was a film under consideration here, ‘High Noon’. This is a true example of the use of cinema artistic expression and cultural introspection.

Although this film made significant advances in filmmaking struggle to recoup its modest $750,000 budget. Thankfully there were several groups and individuals that were able to recognize the significance and cultural impact of this. The 1953 award seasons of the round High Noon to calm the highest honors best actor in a leading role for Gary Cooper as well as the golden statues for Best Film Editing, Best Original Score Music with Nominations Going for Best Film and Best Director for the incredible work by Fred Zinnemann. In some respects his pales to the ultimate honor of on being inducted into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. The movie met the criteria for this honor by being declared; "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It used a technique that is still considered rare and difficult to; much of the throne was presented in real time. As a clock counted down to dwindling minutes into the appearance of the buildings the amount of time passed the audience.

In the vast majority of westerns town’s law keeper is not only a man of unquestionable integrity and exceptional skills with his six shooters usually depend on the unwavering support town he protected. The many major differences present in the construction of High Noon were found in the psychological makeup and unusual circumstances of Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper). He has served the town of Hadleyville located in the rapidly growing New Mexico territory. The story placed Marshall Kane in the most unusual circumstances. He fell in love and married a young woman, my Fowler (Grace Kelly), who happened to be observant Quaker. His local respect for his new bride prompted Kane to turn in his badge and gun. His intention was to become a storekeeper and moved out of town. Unfortunately, his plans were to be severely threatened. News reaches the town that the notorious murderer and criminal, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) who had been sentenced to be executed by hanging was paroled legal technicality. The despicable Miller had vowed revenge against Kane. To ensure the success of his revenge Miller was to bring along his gang consisting of his younger brother Ian MacDonald. Accompanying them are the other members of the Miller gang; Jack Colby (Lee Van Cleef), and Jim Pierce (Robert J. Wilke). They make it known that they will be on the noon train soon to arrive in the town. This turned the clock prominently displayed in the summer into a countdown of how long he had to live. There’s a real danger that many in the town would become collateral damage during the extraction of the revenge.

Realizing that he is hopelessly outgunned, will try in vain to get some of the men in the town to stand beside him during the show down. Kane and Amy have already started up on their new life together but upon hearing that Kane finds he has no recourse but to once again in the badge on his chest strap on his guns, returning to save the town that has abandoned him. His entreaties to have the town help him fall upon decidedly deaf ears. He makes a poignant plea during Sunday church services hoping that such a venue would put the townsfolk into a more receptive condition of their hearts. Much to his dismay Kane’s heartfelt police once again are ignored. The current law man, deputy, Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges), resigns, unwilling to put his life on the line for Kane, particularly because Kane did not recommend the deputy to take his place as federal Marshall. As the minute hand of the clock inexorably moves towards pointing straight up, the clock is quite literally counting down the remaining minutes of Kane’s life.

This is a significant departure from what westerns up until that point. Course the most obvious of these is that the town chooses to bury their head in the sand rather than help the man who is kept them safe so many years. The Jews cowardice and indifference and hopes that the danger or just has to abide without being confronted. Many in the town felt that it was the former Marshall’s problem not theirs a sentiment that would go into the modern era as demonstrated by cases such as Kitty Genovese, a young woman who heard it all 47 of our neighbors ignored her cries for help. It is also extremely unusual for man who was made a living with his six shooter strapped to his thigh would turn his back on that completely in order to embrace the pacifist beliefs of his Quaker wife. By the standards set in most residence this in itself would be an unthinkable act of cowardice. Considering the lack of willingness to help town displayed many would not have for Kane would take his chances and leaving town. His decision to stay is extensively due to his moral conviction which remained intact despite hanging up his gun belt and removing his badger of office. He also knows that the gang of outlaws always be on their trail and he just couldn’t see being on the run with his wife, always looking over their shoulder.

The real time technique used here creates an incredibly palatable sense of suspense. The undisputed master of cinematic suspense, Alfred Hitchcock, has been known to state that is not the explosion of a bomb that matters is the tension generated by knowing it is there, counting down steadily towards detonation. The arrival of the gang set for noon permits the filmmaker to leverage a simple prop such as a public clock to generate, and more importantly maintain a heightened sense of doom. A very real sword of Damocles dangles over Kane’s head and by time within the context of the throne pass the same rate as those for the audience, the quite effectively everyone watching into that town. This will inevitably bring the decision of whether or not they should help more intensely to mind.

Already the biggest difference between this and the traditional western is that it has replaced gunfights and horseback chases as the audience finds themselves facing the same context as the protagonist; undergoing the psychological torment of waiting for doom. There are many ways for filmmaker to achieve this heightened sense of reality with his audience but by far this is one of the most effective and imaginative ever to be used in a movie. The director, Fred Zinnemann, was an exceptionally versatile filmmaker’s body of work would include the morally scandalous wall movie, ‘From Here to Eternity’, a definitive espionage thriller ‘The Day of the Jackal’ and even an adaptation of a popular laundry musical ‘Oklahoma!’ This faster gambit of themes provided this director incredible understanding of humanity and what drives people to act the way they do. The screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was nominated six times for the Academy award for his writing. One of those nominations was for the screenplay but he did manage to take home the golden statue for his script; ‘The Bridge on the River Kwai. When you combine this talent behind the camera with the acting force of nature such as Gary Cooper in one of the most elegant and talented actresses ever to step on stage, Grace Kelly, you have performers whose command of their art makes them worthy of the scripted direction they received here. There are several releases but be sure to get the Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition.

Disc One:

o Original Restored Dolby Digital Audio

o Enhanced Original Restored Dolby Digital Audio

o Audio Commentary with Maria Cooper-Janis, Jonathan Foreman, Tim Zinnemann and John Ritter

Disc Two:

o "Inside High Noon": 50-Minute Documentary on the Making of High Noon

o "Tex Ritter: A Visit to Carthage, Texas": Portrait Piece on the Tex Ritter Museum

o Full-Length Tex Ritter Performance of Oscar-Winning Original Song "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'" on the Jimmy Dean TV Show

o "The Making of High Noon" Featurette

o "Behind High Noon" Featurette

o Radio Broadcast with Tex Ritter

Posted 06/23/2015

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