Friday, 19 April 2013

High Noon (1952) – ★★★★★

highnoon2Director: Fred Zinnemann
Writers: Carl Foreman (screenplay), John W. Cunningham (story)
Stars: Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Katy Jurado, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell

High Noon is the Citizen Kane of Western cinema. It is, simply put, a masterpiece. Every aspect of the film screams precision. The acting, the music, the set, the dialogue, the camerawork, is all perfection. Gary Cooper is flawless in this film, and it will always go down as the greatest role he ever played.

This film is a clear display of how the strong swallowed the weak in the small, dirty, western towns. The people were like chickens, and would panic at the site of armed bandits. This is the story of a man who would not run away from four dangerous criminals that had a bone to pick with him. We follow Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) through the early hours of the morning, up until high noon, searching for willing men to help him fight for his life.

There’s such an urgency felt throughout the film. Minute by minute the tension builds, with each glance of Cooper growing more concerned. There is no telling what will happen next, it’s very unpredictable. You really feel for Will, which makes it all the more easy to grow nervous as the plot develops.

Each of the supporting performances were great in their own way. The standout was Katy Jurado as one of Will’s ex-girlfriends, who is clearly still in love with him. Grace Kelly played his wife, and fit the part well, although at times her beauty distracts from the story-line at hand. I say that because she is an absolutely stunning and clean woman, which makes the setting of the dirty south a little less authentic. All in all, they were both intriguing characters.

mfw-high-noon-badguysThe music and set production are really top notch. It feels authentic, and really makes the movie miles more enjoyable. Perhaps the best thing about High Noon is its exhilarating climax. I mean, WOW. Quentin Tarantino tries his hardest to have the bloodiest, darn tootenest gun battles in his films, but High Noon still stands as the classic gun-slinging legend.

With cinematography that rivals that of Casablanca, High Noon is one of the greatest westerns of all time. It’s simple, and perfect in almost every way imaginable.

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