GARY COOPER

High Noon

(1952)

Film: Review


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"High Noon is stark in its simplicity."
- Paul Page


Review

high noon


Credits

dir:

    Fred Zinnemann, 1952

prod:

    Stanley Kramer

running time:

    85 minutes. B&W

scr:

    Carl Foreman

adapted:

    from The Tin Star by John W. Cunningham

phot:

    Floyd Crosby

mus:

    Dmitri Tiomkin

high noon

Gary Cooper & Grace Kelly - High Noon (1952)

main cast:

oscars:

  • best actor (Cooper)
  • best music
  • best film editing (Elmo Williams, Harry Gerstad)
  • best song (Don Not Forsake Me, mus by Tiomkin, lyr by Ned Washington)

oscar nominations:

  • best film
  • best director
  • best screenplay

oscar winner best film 1952:

  • The Greatest Show on Earth


Making

high noon
Gary Cooper - High Noon (1952)

Carl Foreman, who wrote the script and is therefore worth listening to, claimed that High Noon was a political film: that Marshal Gary Cooper, abandoned by the townsfolk and (almost) by his bride (Grace Kelly) and waiting alone to confront the killers coming on on the noon train, actually represented the man of principle, deserted by his erstwhile friends and standing up to the House Un-American ctivities Committee. The director, Fred Zinnemann, said Cooper represented nothing of the sort; he merely represented a man prepared to do what a man had to do. Well, it doesn't really matter, I suppose, although Foreman himself was blacklisted by HUAC.

Nor does it matter that the story begins at 10.40 a.m. and ends at five minutes past noon, thus coinciding precisely with the film's running time. That's merely a gimmick, interesting but nothing to do with the quality of the picture. What finally makes High Noon a classic western is that it's so very well done, stark in its simplicity. Not only was Cooper perfectly cast as the troubled lawman torn between the call of duty and the natural desire to go away with his lovely young wife, but the trappings of production, direction and script were also sublime - the menacing shadows cast by the blazing sun, the tension emphasised by the ticking of the clock, the almost palpable loneliness of the marshal as he realises that the honest burgers are going to rat on him. Even the bathetic lyrics of Tex Ritter's song (He made a vow while in state prison/Said it'd be my life or his'n') were disguised by the darkly foreboding rhythm of the music.

The western is the twentieth-century equivalent of the morality tale, the struggle between good and evil, what is right and what is wrong, and the dilemma has rarely been so plainly, so agonisingly laid out as in High Noon.


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