The classic High Noon returns to town
To coincide with this landmark 1952 western returning on Blu-ray with an epic 4K restoration, it’s an opportunity to revisit a film that redefined twentieth century cinema and stills holds its own. High Noon remains a hugely impressive movie, thanks to compelling storytelling, direction and solid performances. It’s helmed by director Fred Zinnemann (From Here to Eternity) who creates an organic, documentary-infused style which keeps tension simmering in a small town sitting.
Earning an Oscar for his role, Hollywood icon Gary Cooper (Mr. Deeds Goes to Town) stars as Marshal Will Kane, preparing to retire and leave town with his young bride Amy (Grace Kelly, Rear Window). Plans are derailed with the impending arrival of released outlaw Frank and his brutal gang, who the Marshal sent to jail. Unfolding in real time, Will quickly tries to assemble a posse with his deputies and the reluctant townspeople, who Will ironically once saved by returning their town to a safe haven, but receives little help. As high noon approaches, Will realises he must make a stand, with or without help.
Reportedly, John Wayne (who turned down the lead role) and Howard Hawks both hated the film for its political undertones (viewed as a comment on the House Un-American Activities Committee hearings investigating communism in the 1950’s) and these elements add historical context and curiosity now. Yet, beyond this, what we have is a tightly constructed and thoughtful western, told with subtle, documentary style naturism. It may not carry the same cinematic sweep of Glenn Ford westerns, or the grit and attitude of the spaghetti westerns from the 1960’s, but Zinnemann’s story simmers hard, and it’s real-time narrative is extremely compelling.
The performances are excellent, and Gary Cooper gives a grounded and natural performance, a reluctant hero forced by his morals to make a stand. Grace Kelly counters well as Will’s pacifist wife and the anchor of logic against the inevitable chaos rolling into town. Lloyd Bridges (Little Big Horn) also plays a memorable supporting role as Will’s ineffective deputy, and look out for an early role as a heavy played by the great Lee Van Cleef (The Good, The Bad and The Ugly).
The new release features:
4K Digital Restoration
Optional English subtitles
Brand new and exclusive audio commentary by historian Glenn Frankel, author of High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic
Brand new and exclusive audio commentary by western authority Stephen Prince
New video interview with film historian Neil Sinyard, author of Fred Zinnemann: Films of Character and Conscience
A 1969 audio interview with writer Carl Foreman from the National Film Theatre in London
The Making of High Noon [22 mins] a documentary on the making of the film
Inside High Noon [47 mins] and Behind High Noon [10 mins] two video pieces on the making and context of the film
Brimming with originality and culturally incredibly important, this film is essential. For anyone educating themselves on true highlights of classic Hollywood, High Noon is genuinely a must-see western and its iconic status is easy to understand. For old-time fans, the 4K restoration breathes new life into a cinematic masterpiece and offers more insight and understanding.
High Noon is out now from Eureka Entertainment