High Noon (1952)

DailyView: Day 312, Movie 443

Gary Cooper starred in one of the greatest Westerns of all time, High Noon. If you are making a list of classic and iconic Westerns, this one would absolutely make the list.

The story is simple. Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) was getting married to Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly) and was handing the job of marshal over to someone new. However, on the day of his marriage, he heard that an outlaw that he had previously sent to jail, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), was returning on the noon train with the intention of meeting up with his gang and killing Kane.

Refusing to run from Miller, Kane attempted to recruit members of the town to form a posse of deputies to stop the gang from running wild, but, to his consternation, he discovered that his friends and fellow townsfolk did not want to join in on the posse. This led to Kane having to face off with Miller and his three gunmen on his own.

The plot of High Noon occurs in real time as the building dread of the train arriving in Hadleyville, New Mexico continued to eat up the nerves of the people and the anxiety of the audience members. You could feel the isolationism felt by the heroic Marshal Kane as he struggled with the call of duty to the town and the fact that the town was dismissing him outright. You can see the conflict within Kane about whether he should just up and leave the town and start his life anew elsewhere. Eventually, his dedication to his duty would not allow him to push the Frank Miller problem off to someone else and he knew what he had to do.

The film was one of the first Westerns to have adjusted the role of the female characters, with Amy playing a significant role in the third act showdown between Kane and Miller. There were some push back against the change of a Western trope from some of the people involved in making Westerns. John Wayne was a known opponent of High Noon, calling it “the most un-American thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life.” Still, High Noon became an extremely influential film of its time.

The final shot of the film was an epic one, which showed the contempt that Kane had grown inside him for the town that had left him to die.

High Noon was a legendary Western that took many of the genre tropes and played with their expectations, creating a new style of hero and supporting characters.

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