Thursday, March 15, 2007

Revisit: High Noon

A United Artists release 1952

Directed by Fred Zinnemann

Writing credits
John W. Cunningham (story)
Carl Foreman (screenplay)

Retired lawman Will Kane(Gary Cooper), about to leave town with his new bride (Grace Kelly), seeks allies among the fearful townspeople when an outlaw he put in prison returns with his gang to take revenge.

A classic story about burning your bridges, High Noon is one of the great westerns, despite breaking of many time-honored genre codes. The film plays out in real time and contains little action until the last act, which is unique for westerns of the time. Likewise, it's politics seem to serve as an allegory for the rise of McCarthyism, but ironically the film was embraced by conservatives who admired its emphasis on duty and courage.

The film effectively draws tension from Kane's desperation. Various high angle shots and images of clocks reinforce the imposing time limit. The film reveals information about Kane's past involvement with the gang very slowly with each scene, so that they dialogue is both about the current attack and the past. Worth a gander.

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