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The tin star in the dust,
This review is from: High Noon [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 11 Nov 2010 15:17:27 GMT
Last edited by the author on 11 Nov 2010 15:24:00 GMT
C. W. Bradbury says:
I completely agree with the points you cover in your review; defining courage as:- "grace under pressure" is particularly good. I would like to add however, that from ancient times through to our own day, true courage in adversity has always been a rare thing, which is the deeper reason behind the origin of aristocracy. In virtually every age before our own 'the law' was largely enforced by one man; the local warlord, baron etc.... who, when duty called; picked up his sword, positioned himself at the head of his sons/warriors and rode out to death or glory.
By doing so he both maintained his position as Lord of the Manor and also protected the local peasantry from any abuse/exploitation save his own. Al Capone and his Mafia hoods behaved very much in this 'Will Kane' fashion during the 1930's and it's ironic to realise that although they are portrayed as psycopathic criminals, in any previous age they would almost certainly have founded an aristocratic dynasty, becoming hereditary rulers of their 'turf' just as Hrolf the Ganger and his Norsemen became rulers of Normandy (and later England); due to the same inherent determined courage Gary Cooper portrayed in this magnificent film.
Posted on 23 Nov 2011 11:19:38 GMT
You should have put a spoiler warning at the start of your review
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