Sunday, September 20, 2009

High Noon (1952)

Gary Cooper plays a Marshal in a small western town.  He has just been married to Grace Kelly and they are planning on starting a new life in a new town.  Unfortunately, some bad news has come up.  The most dreaded bad guy is being released from jail and he has it in for Gary Cooper.  He will be arriving to town at noon.  Gary Cooper can leave with Kelly, but he decides to stay and confront his villain.  Cooper tries to put together a small group to fight the villain and his 3 accomplices.  To Cooper's displeasure, no one will fight by his side.  Cooper has till noon to figure out what to do.  Will he leave town or fight his enemies?

"High Noon" was a terrific picture.  It was exciting the entire time and you really feel bad for Cooper.  No one will help him after all that he has done for the town.  It is true that if he leaves town, a shoot out will not take place.  But Cooper knows that the villain will find him anywhere he goes.  

The acting is very well done in this picture, but frankly, I don't get Gary Cooper.  I don't think he is the great actor history has made him out to be.  He seems to be a bit stale, but not enough where it affects the film.  I'm not saying he is a bad actor.  I just don't think he is one of the greats.  Grace Kelly did a great job in her role though.  Her character changes dramatically by the end of the film and it is quite the thing to witness.  Lon Chaney was also in this film as a retired Marshal.  He did a very good job, but he was only in two scenes.  It is still a very memorable role, however.

The film is wonderfully directed and the script is written beautifully.  It is hard for many screen writers to keep an audience aware of many different characters, but it works well here.  You really get to know the townspeople, even though they may only have one or two scenes.  

The best thing about the film was the climactic ending.  Cooper does fight his battle and when it seems like he is about to be killed, Grace Kelly saves him.  She picks up a gun and kills one of the bad guys herself.  That was the change in character I was talking about.  She refused to stay with Cooper because she wants to start her new life.  She is on the noon train and ready to leave, when she hears gun shots.  Right away, she jumps off the train to try and help the love of her life.  

"High Noon" is an excellent western film.  I can truly understand why it is a classic.  Everyone was on top of their game during the filming of the picture.

A-  I recommend it.

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