Friday, August 01, 2014

High Noon (1952)

     High Noon (1952) [D:Fred Zinneman. Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges, et al] This was the fourth or fifth time I’ve watched this movie, it gets better every time. The story is well known: Marshall Will Kane turns in his badge on his wedding day, but Frank Miller, whom he arrested for murder some years ago, has been pardoned, and is arriving on the noon train to get even with him. Kane takes back his badge, tries to assemble a posse, fails, and takes on Miller and his henchmen alone. His wife Amy opposes the violence, but returns instead of abandoning Kane, and kills one of the thugs. In the last scene, Will and Amy ride off on their buggy, with no farewell or other talk with the townspeople who have refused to help them. A stereotypical plot, but done so well that it feels fresh.
     Photography, pacing, acting, sound, are all excellent. Zinneman had a clear vision of what he wanted. Matching screen time to story time may seem like a trick, but it works: Kane has about an hour and a half to do his job. The set-up scenes are run under the titles, a method that was much imitated, but rarely so well done. The movie is near-perfect example of the genre. ****

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