High Noon a Classic Western

New reissue has many bonus features

Oct. 19, 2016
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John Wayne famously condemned it as “un-American,” but High Noon (1952) withstood his approbation, earned four Oscars and endured as one of the greatest westerns ever filmed. High Noon has been reissued on DVD in a visually brilliant print and with many bonus features.

High Noon stars Gary Cooper as a town marshal. As the film opens, he’s about to leave town for good on his wedding day with his wife (Grace Kelly) when a gang of criminals ride in, seeking vengeance against the marshal for putting their ringleader in prison. That ringleader is due to arrive on the noon train; director Fred Zinnemann paced the film with the relentless rhythm of the clocks that tick from the walls in many scenes, hands pressing forward toward noon.

As suspense builds, the marshal is encouraged by everyone to leave but he decides to take a stand against fear. He hopes to swear in a posse but has trouble finding willing hands. Meanwhile, the town judge flees, the deputy quits over jealousy, the mayor counsels him to slip away to avoid a disturbance that could hamper business growth, many of the saloon boys favor the criminals, the churchgoers reach no consensus. “This ain’t our job,” is the general attitude.

Among the added features is a description by director Mark Goldblatt (The Terminator) of how time was integral to High Noon with the recurrent clock imagery acting like a long fuse burning on a stick of dynamite. Michael Schlesinger speaks to the emergence of High Noon’s producer, Stanley Kramer, a man who understood how to make messages entertaining.

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