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High Noon – presented by the Carson City Classic Cinema Club

Brewery Arts Center Performance Hall

June 4th @6:3

$4

High Noon

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High Noon
High Noon poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Produced by Stanley Kramer
Screenplay by Carl Foreman
Based on “The Tin Star”
by John W. Cunningham
Starring
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Floyd Crosby
Edited by Elmo Williams
Production
company
Stanley Kramer Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • July 24, 1952
Running time
85 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $730,000[1]
Box office $12 million[2]

High Noon is a 1952 American Western film produced by Stanley Kramer from a screenplay by Carl Foreman, directed by Fred Zinnemann, and starring Gary Cooper. The plot, depicted in real time, centres on a town marshal who is torn between his sense of duty and love for his new bride and who must face a gang of killers alone.

Though mired in controversy with political overtones at the time of its release, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four (Actor, Editing, Music-Score, and Music-Song)[3] as well as four Golden Globe Awards (Actor, Supporting Actress, Score, and Cinematography-Black and White).[4] The award-winning score was written by Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin.

High Noon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 1989, the NFR’s first year of existence. An iconic film whose story has been partly or completely repeated in later film productions, the ending scenes especially inspired a next-to-endless number of later films, including but not just limited to westerns.

Plot

In Hadleyville, a small town in New Mexico Territory, Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper), newly married to Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), prepares to retire. The happy couple will soon depart for a new life to raise a family and run a store in another town. However, word arrives that Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), a vicious outlaw whom Kane sent to jail, has been released and will arrive on the noon train. Miller’s gang—his younger brother Ben (Sheb Wooley), Jack Colby (Lee Van Cleef), and Jim Pierce (Robert J. Wilke)—await his arrival at the train station; it is clear that Miller intends to exact revenge.

For Amy, a devout Quaker and pacifist, the solution is simple—leave town before Miller arrives, but Kane’s sense of duty and honor are strong. “They’re making me run,” he tells her. “I’ve never run from anybody before.” Besides, he says, Miller and his gang will hunt him down anyway. Amy gives Kane an ultimatum: She is leaving on the noon train, with or without him. While waiting at the hotel for the train, she meets Helen Ramírez (Katy Jurado), who was once Miller’s lover, and then Kane’s, and is leaving as well. Amy understands why Helen is fleeing, but the reverse is not true: Helen tells Amy that if Kane were her man, she would not abandon him in his hour of need.

Kane’s efforts to round up a posse at the tavern, and then the church, are met with fear and hostility. Some townspeople, worried that a gunfight would damage the town’s reputation, urge Kane to avoid the confrontation entirely. Others are Miller’s friends, and resent that Kane cleaned up the town in the first place.

Kane’s young deputy Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges), who is bitter that Kane did not recommend him as his successor, says he will stand with Kane only if Kane goes to the city fathers and “puts the word in” for him. Kane rejects the quid pro quo, and Pell turns in his badge. Kane visits a series of old friends and allies, but none can (or will) help: his predecessor, Marshal Howe (Lon Chaney Jr.) is old and arthritic; Judge Percy Mettrick (Otto Kruger), who sentenced Miller, flees on horseback, and urges Kane to do the same; Herb Baker (James Millican) agrees to be deputized, but backs out when he realizes he is the only volunteer; Sam Fuller (Harry Morgan) hides in his house, sending his wife (Eve McVeagh) to the door to tell Kane he is not home. Jimmy (William Newell) is a good person and genuinely offers to help Will, but he is vision impaired, drunk and likely to get himself killed; Kane sends him home for his own safety. The other offer of aid comes from a fourteen-year-old boy; Kane admires his courage but rejects it as well.

At the stables, Pell saddles a horse and tries to persuade Kane to take it and leave town. Their conversation becomes an argument, and then a fist fight. Kane finally knocks his former deputy senseless, and returns to his office to write out his will as the clock ticks toward high noon. He then goes into the street to face Miller and his gang alone. In one of the most iconic shots in film history, the camera rises and widens to show Kane standing alone on a deserted street in a deserted town.

The gunfight begins. Kane guns down Ben Miller and Colby, but is wounded in the process. As the train is about to leave the station, Amy hears the gunfire, leaps off, and runs back to town. Choosing her husband’s life over her religious beliefs, she picks up the handgun hanging inside Kane’s office and shoots Pierce from behind, leaving only Frank Miller, who grabs Amy as a shield to force Kane into the open. Amy claws Miller’s face and he pushes her to the ground, giving Kane a clear shot, and he shoots Miller dead.

Kane helps his bride to her feet and they embrace. As the townspeople emerge and cluster around him, Kane throws his marshal’s star in the dirt and departs with Amy on their wagon.