High Noon

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#7 of the Top Ten Westerns

High Noon (1952)

Directed by Fred Zinnemann

Starring: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Harry Morgan, Lloyd Bridges

This 1952 film won four Oscars, including Best Actor in a Leading Role for Gary Cooper. The film also won for Best Music, Best New Song, and Best Editing. The Fred Zinnemann directed movie was also nominated for Best Picture against movies like The Quiet Man and the eventual winner, The Greatest Show on Earth. Zinnemann had the magic touch when it came to making movies. He was behind the camera for A Man for All Seasons, From Here to Eternity, and The Sundowners. His work earned him four Academy Awards during his career.

High Noon was filled with big names to go along with their talented director. This includes Oscar winners Gary Cooper (Sergeant York) and Grace Kelly (Dial M for Murder). The cast also featured a young Lloyd Bridges (Airplane) and familiar face, Harry Morgan (Thunder Bay).

Marshall Will Kane (Cooper) is a man ready for a peaceful life. He’s married Amy Fowler (Kelly),  a Quaker woman, and he’s trading in his badge for a plow. As he prepares to leave town he receives word that Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), a man he arrested for murder, has been released. Not only is Miller free, but he’s headed back to town to exact revenge against the Marshall. Now Marshall Kane has decided to pick up his guns and defend himself and his town from this cold-blooded killer. As the townspeople prepare for a showdown they’re all watching the clock, waiting for the noon train to bring Miller back to town.

This is an incredible movie, made to tell the story almost in real-time. This instantly creates an element of suspense and tension that is seized upon by the talented cast. Director Fred Zinnemann manages to bring out the best from his cast, and also puts together a movie that seems to avoid clichés, partially because this movie created most of them. The editing and dialogue come together really well with all the other aspects of the movie to create a perfect western.

I’m not going to try to criticize this movie. The acting is amazing, and the other components of the film are all technically great. This movie really set a new standard for the western genre. Unlike the movies of Anthony Mann, this movie didn’t change the way we look at the hero. This film took westerns and added in suspense in a new and exciting way. With the real-time pacing of the movie every tick of the clock seemed important, bringing the hero closer to facing off with the villain.

This is a wonderful movie, well-acted and well-made by all the people involved. I would recommend this movie for anyone. The suspense and drama work together nicely to really make this an interesting movie. If you love westerns I think you might recognize, like I did, the many aspects of this movie which are common in newer westerns. Even Mel Brooks paid homage to this movie in his comedy Blazing Saddles. I give this movie 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: PG

Running Time: 85 minutes

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