High Noon (1952)

high noon poster 1952 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Classic Western


Movie Info

Movie Name:  High Noon

Studio:  Stanley Kramer Productions

Genre(s):  Western/Action/Adventure/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 1, 1952 (Premiere)/July 30, 1952 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

high noon gary cooper alone

Hey guys…you can come out and help me now…guys?

Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) is coming back to Hadleyville.  He and his gang are gunning for Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) who helped put Miller way.  Miller’s train is scheduled in at noon, and the newly married Kane realizes that he must rally a posse to help stand up to Miller and his men.  With much of the town against him and only an hour before the train arrives, Miller will learn where he stands in the town that he vowed to protect…and it will be a battle.

Directed by Fred Zinnemann, High Noon is a Western.  The film adapts the John W. Cunningham 1947 short story “The Tin Star” originally printed in Collier’s Magazine.  The film received Academy Awards for Best Actor (Cooper), Best Film Editing, Best Original Song (“High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’)”), and Best Dramatic or Comedy Scoring with nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing-Screenplay.  The film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1989 when the Registry began.

high noon frank miller gang

Here come the bad guys!

High Noon is one of those films that you feel you know even if you haven’t seen it.  The story has been referenced in pop culture since its release and sequels and remakes have been made with High Noon Part II:  The Return of Will Kane (1980), High Noon (2000), and Outland (1981) as a science-fiction version of the film.  Despite all the options, the original is the only way to go.

The storytelling was kind of revolutionary in that the film tried to tell the story in real time.  There is some playing with time and Will sure gets around town as he seeks help, but for the most part, the movie takes place in the time frame of the runtime.  Despite being a relatively short film, the movie’s script manages to develop a number of characters and present a smartly told story while providing both action and classic Western moments.

Gary Cooper was largely considered too old for the film when it was being made and being paired with Grace Kelly who was only twenty-one (they also had an affair during the filming).  Lloyd Bridges plays the jerky deputy well but Lee Van Cleef was allegedly originally cast for that role but looked too villainous.  I really like Katy Jurado as the mysterious Helen Ramirez and her story in Hollywood also is interesting.  Lon Chaney Jr. has a small role as well as Harry Morgan.

high noon grace kelly ian macdonald

I’m starting to reconsider that whole “You should get out of town” idea.

The movie also get the classic Western feel.  It is a dusty, lonely town with big figures and saloons and general stores.  While it seems like a cliché in many ways, the film’s classic nature and black-and-white style make it feel natural especially since much of the film is Cooper going around the town trying to strum up support to help him…the town becomes a character itself.

High Noon is a great movie and often considered one of the best films ever made.  The film lost the Academy Award to The Greatest Show on Earth which was largely considered one of the worst best pictures…which was allegedly picked to appease Joseph McCarthy who liked Cecil B. DeMille’s support.  In this sense, High Noon got the last laugh.  It might not have won the Academy Award, but it will live on…as a classic.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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