on 14 November 2006
The greatest and best Western ever made, beautifully dark, real and with almost all of the usually prevalent adventurous and romantic John Wayne style removed. This is a thrilling, emotional and yet truthfully simple film that is directed with all the tense skill that Zinnemann would go on to show in 'Day of the Jackal'. The plot builds and builds in suspense, and while Cooper and Kelly expertly perform the pitiful roles of Kane and his bride that gain our empathy, the other townfolk demonstrate a contrasting cruel cowardice that is just...genuine.
The skill of the acting and direction and stark bleakness of the plot, mixed with a heady infusion of true love and goodness, gives it a reality that puts it above more romantic views of the West such as 'Stagecoach' and 'Rio Bravo'. 'The Searchers', 'Shane' and Eastwood's recent effort 'Unforgiven' come close to reproducing this, but it will take a real act of perfection to tumble 'High Noon' from its pedestal. I salute you!
on 5 February 2004
Please be warned: as great a film as this is (and it’s a gem) the actual DVD is dreadful. Picture quality is on a par with a video – blurry and very dark. Sound quality is not much better. But worst of all, there are sudden black-outs between scenes that appear about 4-5 times throughout the film. These are very poorly done and sudden and do not appear on the region 1 release. I suspect they are fade-outs for commercials!
If you have a multi-region DVD player then check out the Region 1 version (not the Collectors Edition) for the best picture quality. The difference is amazing.
on 26 January 2001
This is an exceptional western: an exceptional film. It follows the three classical unities of time, place and theme: it takes place in 'real' time; the action is centred on the town and its environs; there are no sub-plots to detract from the main story. Tightly controlled and acted. A great credit to Fred Zinnemann and his team.
This is the quintessential Hollywood western. It will continue to represent the genre for many decades to come.
It stars Gary Cooper, one of the most beloved of leading men who personified soft-spoken heroic courage in scores of important films, including Beau Geste (1939), The Pride of the Yankees (1942), Along Came Jones (1945), The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell (1955), etc., and Grace Kelly in her debut role. Directed by Fred Zinneman, whose credits include From Here to Eternity (1953), A Man for All Seasons (1966), Julia (1977) and a dozen more, High Noon tells the story of Will Kane, a small town marshal who, on his wedding day faces a man just let out of prison with three of his outlaw friends who are aiming to get revenge for his being sent up.
The enduring image of the film is Gary Cooper walking tall in the deserted streets of the town in a black Western hat, a black vest, long-sleeved white shirt, black string necktie, watch chain, boots, and low slung holster and two belts, while off to the side inside the wooden buildings we see "that big hand move along, nearin' high noon--which is when the train arrives carrying the freed prisoner.
Will Kane has cleaned up the town, but now the gunslingers return and he is their target. His wife of less than an hour (Kelly) demands that he leave town. The town itself, in fear of the gunmen, also wants him to leave town, hoping to take the fight away from them. He tries to recruit deputies but everyone is afraid. Even his lone deputy (Lloyd Bridges) deserts him. In the background is Dimitri Tiomkin's haunting ballad, sung by Tex Ritter: "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling (On This Our Wedding Day)." Both Cooper and the song won Oscars. Noteworthy was the fine performance by Kay Jurado as ... Ramirez, Cane's ex, a shrewd barroom lady and proprietress.
What is interesting about the moral conflict (from the story, "The Tin Star" as interpreted for film by screenwriter Carl Foreman), that of facing your enemy rather than running, is that Kane's rationale is logical. If he runs they will only come after him again and again. Only two people get this, Kane and Ramirez. The larger moral issue of whether to fight to defend yourself (Grace Kelly is cast as a Quaker and does not believe in killing) is resolved during the climatic shootout by Grace Kelly's character herself in a manner that did not set well with Quakers.
How well does this black and white classic Western play today? The towns people seem cliches and the outlaws are quickly drawn, but Gary Cooper as Will Kane seems entirely believable, admirable, heroic in the best sense of the term as a man who knows the dangers, feels the fear, and yet must act, and he does. He is no shallow, two-fisted, machine-gun hero so often seen in Hollywood productions, but a man of maturity whose "grace under pressure" (a fine definition of courage) tells us and himself who he really is.
See this for Gary Cooper whose "slow-talking, slow-walking," (lyrics from the Coaster's hit song from the fifties, "Along Came Jones"), and soft-spoken heroics delighted and enthralled a couple of generations of film-goers.
on 1 April 2014
Great film of course, but this package is somewhat disappointing for one selling itself as a special edition. The movie is supposed to be a redigitalised print, but there is a better print available on DVD and in the original format. Also, this one seems to have several fadeouts, which don't exist in the usual print, and these, apart from taking out some frames from the movie, interfere with the real-time action.
Apart from the trailer, the best extra is an informative short documentary hosted by film writer Leonard Maltin. Unfortunately there's a "filmography", which simply precis what Maltin's already said. Two galleries of images - one set of stills, one set of posters - have just been thrown together in a small panel with little regard for legibility or order, and are quite tricky for the viewer to negotiate. The most annoying aspect is the subtitling, which is appalling in the case of the Maltin documentary and sloppy in the movie itself - very sad for such a classic film.
on 4 September 2012
This is an excellent work in tension and a study in the nature of self-interest. Gary Cooper's Sherriff Kane faces the return of the man he put away and he needs a posse to nip things in the bud. A half-dozen men is all he needs but can he find such help in a town that's either afraid, ambivalent or even hostile to his cause?
Set in real-time (or thereabouts), Kane goes from group to group looking to aid but faces resistance everywhere. Some people are scared, others are friends of his enemies or liked the money they brought but each denial has its own special character. For example, in the church scene, the martial Methodist anthem "His Truth Keeps Marching On" immediately precedes the entire congregation turning away from the good fight for one excuse or another. In another example, in a moment reminiscent of Peter denying Jesus, the one man he has on his side backs out without the comfort of numbers. The only help offered is from the weakest of sources: a child and a drunk who possess more nobility than the rest put together.
Kane also faces questions over his own motivations. Having just retired and married, he seems to have no reason to hang around and every reason to leave: when asked why he's staying, even Kane can't say what it is for sure. Duty is part of it but there's no evidence that the town is set to suffer- this is personal- but on the other hand, his excuse that Miller will pursue him wherever he goes seems fanciful. Perhaps it's simply that a man must stand up. This of course flies in the face of the township who look for reasons not to stand up.
The score is terrific; a metronome chiming in the seconds to the point of conflict (even if it evokes childhood memories of my dad singing the first line over and over- he only knew the one line!).
The only criticism I can place is that the showdown struggles to live up to the suspense: Frank Miller's thinly realised and is less inspiring in reality than the phantom menace of his rumour (of course, you could argue that this demonstrates the township's fear has blinded them to the power of the threat).
Much imitated but never equalled, this is the classic Western of all time. We all know the story - the Marshall of a small town is alerted that a gang of ruthless killers are out to get him. He could flee but decides to stay and fight it out, relying on the support of the towns folk that he has faithfully and bravely protected for many years. But his faith is misplaced and he has to go into battle alone.
This is really a suspense thriller as much as a Western. Filmed almost in real time, we follow events from the moment the Marshall gets the warning through to the final thrilling shootout. Director Zinneman and star Cooper bring the fear and determination of Kane, as he tries to rally support and makes his preparations, to the screen vividly. Also nicely done is the character aspect as one after another the town's folk back away from Kane, with a variety of explanations and sophistries. Stand out is Thomas Mitchell (who won an Oscar for his portrayal of the drunkard Doctor in Stagechoach), Kane's friend who manages to desert him whilst giving the appearance of supporting him. It's masterful. Then there is Kane's wife, who he married only that day, who is a committed pacifist and cannot understand why Kane must stay and fight. The way her character grows as the film progresses is central to the piece, and done superbly.
The final show down is simply iconic. The shot of Cooper walking alone through the deserted streets, in his instantly recognisable black waistcoat and tin star, as he walks towards what he knows must be his own death is one of the most powerful scenes in film.
The score from Dimitri Tiomkin is especially worthy of praise. There are two main motif's, the song `Don't forsake me', sung by Tex Ritter and which appears throughout the film, and the score emphasising the ticking of the clock as time marches towards Noon and the arrival of the train with the head of the gang aboard. These work well to emphasise the building tension, and the loneliness of a man willing to stand up for right.
This DVD release has a nice and clean picture transfer, which looks pretty sharp. It is a 4:3 aspect ratio with a mono sound track. There are no extras. It's a pretty decent release of a classic film, highly recommended.
If you have never seen High Noon then it is most certainly time that you did. This is a very fine suspense Western. The story concerns a Town Marshall, Will Kane portrayed by Gary Cooper and his increasingly desperate attempts to enlist the help of unwilling townspeople to stand against a gang of vengeance seeking killers who are shortly to descend on the town. The film was directed by Fred Zinneman who was not noted for his Westerns, unless you count Oklahoma. Zinneman uses the artful device of real time to crank up the suspense as we are constantly shown the ticking clock. The film was made in black and white which adds to the starkness and realism of the film.
The film opens with the bad guys meeting up and starting their long ride into town accompanied by the terrific Tex Ritter track memorably beating out in the background. The Ned Washington lyrics were a perfect accompaniment to the mood of the film. The song deservedly won for best song at the Academy Awards. It also introduces a very young Lee Van Cleef to the moviegoing public. It is a startling sequence and one of the more memorable openings in movie history. Cooper is excellent as Will Kane a man struggling to contain his demons, a role which earned him a best actor at the Academy Awards. Although struggling against the tide he refuses to drown. Despite the possible fatal consequences he is a man who will not shirk his responsibilities.
Cooper was said to be ill during the making of the film which may explain his very gaunt appearance. Grace Kelly plays his very pretty young bride who transpires to be his only help. Lon Chaney jnr, Katy Jurado, Thomas Mitchell and Lloyd Bridges provide strong support.
The film was made in 1952 and is groundbreaking in providing a gritty realism seldom seen in Westerns of the period. Heroes were not usually so angst ridden and the bad guys were not gunned down in the usual formulaic style of that genre. It is a desperate struggle against the odds and Kane needs all the help he can get which turns out to be little.
The film and its director were accused of being anti American in that none of the townsfolk went to the sheriffs assistance, and in the final gesture at the end of the film where Kane throws the badge of his authority into the dirt. And who could blame him for that. Would a town totally abandon its law abiding sheriff in his hour of need? Having held a position where I had to uphold the law, I would personally prefer to think not. Nowadays it is fashionable to make anti establishment gestures. Times have changed. The film was made in a spare 21 days, on a small budget and the script was partly written by the blacklisted Carl Foreman, just before his London exile which may have lent some credence to the anti American theory at that time.
So hats off to Fred Zinneman for making such a well crafted and original Western. This is an excellent addition to the collection of any serious Western afficienado.
on 22 January 2004
'High Noon' is an absolute masterpiece. I am not a great fan of black and white films but I am a great fan of westerns and this film blew me away. There is no doubt that this is one of the best westerns ever made. The acting is excellent but it is the suspense that makes this film. By the end you'll be pissing yourself with excitement as the film slowly builds to the inevitable climax. However, if you buy this film hoping for the usual gun slinging, brave hero with a band of friends, western you will be disappointed.
This western definitely stands out from the crowd for its realism. Our hero, the sheriff, comes back to town after he hears about a notorious outlaw coming in on the next train. However, he comes back to a town where he isn't wanted. Hoping to raise a band of companions to help him fight the menace he finds himself left alone. In this film everyone's a coward and even Gary Cooper (the sheriff) admits his fear and almost leaves before it's to late. As time ticks by and the train pulls closer to the station you'll find yourself trembling with excitement.
If you're looking for a brilliant new addition to your DVD collection then 'High Noon' could be just what you're looking for and I would definitely recommend the product to anyone who is a fan of the genre.