Movie Review: High Noon (1952)

Movie Review: High Noon (1952)

Quote from High Noon by Martin: “You risk your skin catching killers and the juries turn them loose so they can come back and shoot at you again.  If you’re honest you’re poor your whole life and in the end you wind up dying all alone on some dirty street.  For what?  For nothing.  For a tin star.”

The Movie was More Than A Western

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There’s something to be said for a movie that has a fairly simple plot, developed characters, and sharp and to the point dialogue.  High Noon offers this and more as it was made in response to the blacklisting of Hollywood professionals in regards to Communism.   Many shut out of Hollywood were screenwriters and actors including Carl Foreman, who adapted High Noon from a magazine story titled “The Tin Star” by John W. CunninghamThe emotions in every scene are captured in the best way possible.  The relationship between the two women of Will Kane, past lover and current lover, is not overly dramatized.  The relationship between Kane and his protégé, Harvey Pell, is much like a dysfunctional father and son would have.  The various relationships between the townspeople and Kane each have greater significance as the day progresses.  The relationship between Kane and Miller, while not reaching the greatest heights of suspense, is enough to be satisfied by the end of the film.  It garnered seven Academy Award nominations in 1953 and won four including Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Film Editing, Best Music (Original Song), and Best Music (Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture).  High Noon continues to be a favorite among Western movie enthusiasts and movie buffs in general.  It was inducted into the National Film Registry in 1989.

The People Behind the Town of Hadleyville

High Noon is written by Carl Foreman (screenplay) and John W. Cunningham (based on an article titled “The Tin Star.”  It is directed by Fred Zinneman and produced by Carl Foreman and Stanley Kramer.  The main cast includes Gary Cooper as Marshal Will Kane, Lloyd Bridges as Deputy Marshal Harvey Pell, Grace Kelly as Amy Fowler Kane, Katy Jurado as Helen Ramírez, Otto Kruger as Judge Percy Mettrick, Thomas Mitchell as Mayor Jonas Henderson, Lon Chaney Jr. as Martin Howe, and Ian MacDonald as Frank Miller.   The MPAA rating is PG for some western violence and smoking.  It is one hour and 25 minutes long.  It is produced by Stanley Kramer Productions and distributed by United Artists.  High Noon is a movie about standing alone in your convictions though the many voices around you state otherwise. 

Not Every Critic Agreed, but it Really Didn’t Matter

High Noon starts with a wedding ceremony between Marshal Will Kane and Amy Fowler in the town of Hadleyville.  He is turning in his badge to start a new life in another town.  The only problem is someone he put away in the past named Frank Miller wants revenge.  He dismisses this and leaves town to begin his new life, but is pulled back when realizing running away was never an option for him.  This doesn’t sit well with Amy.  She makes him choose between her and his pride.  His decision to stay and face Miller and his gang only upsets her further.  She waits for the noon train, which will take her away from Hadleyville.  Kane has to let her go.  His focus is on persuading the townspeople to fight for him.  It doesn’t go as planned and finds a few who are eager to fight by his side.  As the movie ends, Kane’s willingness to not back down is tested.  The showdown begins.  Bullets fly.   Some connect.  Some miss.  The intent was clear on both sides.  You have to fight your own battles.

Opposing Forces is What Makes This Movie so Great

There’s something I like about Westerns.  It might be the grit and dirt of the West.  It could be the simple stories they usually have.  Bad guys fighting the good guys or bad girls fighting the good girls or a combination.  The opening of the three bad guys riding horseback set the tone.  There was a clear leader of the pack and that was Frank Miller even though he was not even present.  Everything they did was predicated on his command.  The same goes for Will Kane where he was the leader of the town, and because of this the power remained with him until he passed it to the next person.  The supporting cast of Katy Jurado and Grace Kelly portrayed quite different women, but their relationship proved to be each other’s ticket to freedom.  The underlying affection for his boss is evident in a later scene between Pell and Kane.  I think this is one of the best scenes in the movie.  Kane’s interactions with the various townspeople is what made this movie also great.  The ending is not your typical one in regards to what some thought back in the 1950s.  Yet, by today’s standards it would be seen as proper and necessary.  Some movies should stay in black and white, and this is definitely one of them.  You can’t go wrong with the music score and song either.

The Parting Words for High Noon

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I would hand downs recommend this movie.  If you don’t care for Western movies, I’d say this is a good place to start as it doesn’t have the usual shoot ’em and ask no questions later in every other scene.  High Noon is more about the relationships between and among people.  While there are guns and fights, it played out as a response to being slapped in the face one too many times.  Sometimes planning and plotting is the best course of action taken, which is what Kane ultimately did.  It is a slower paced movie so young kids probably won’t have the attention span to sit through it, but most adults should.  Anything resembling a suggestion would be to prolong the ending by a few minutes, but this is nitpicking.  I watched this movie for the historical aspects first and entertainment a close second.  Great from start to finish.

Pisaries Creator Rating

I give High Noon Four Fingers and One Thumb at 98%.

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