DIRECTOR: Fred Zimmerman
May contain spoilers!
Considered to be a classic western, shot in real time, or almost, High Noon follows the clock from around 10:30am to a shoot out at, you guessed it, High Noon. Gary Cooper is a the Town Marshal who has just resigned for the quiet life with his new wife, Grace Kelly, only for a man who he sent down for murder to return to town.
But this is no normal ‘Gunfight at the okay corral’ western. This is dealing with more complex issues of loyalty and self preservation. As Cooper’s nemesis rides into town, Cooper, who as we meet him is well liked and respected, sees within the course of an hour and a half, that loyalty fall away, leaving him to face the gang alone.
The themes are dark but realistic as is the tone, but this is only made possible with consistently great performances throughout, especially Cooper and Kelly who are outstanding and convey there their own respective emotional states.
It is always refreshing to me, not the western fan, to see a western of this era break out of the mould in a way which is not obvious. This is the classic tale, in fact one which was lifted out and carbon copied for so many subsequent films including the final act of How The West Was Won in 1962, but the tone is such that it feels fresh even now, over 60 years later.
With natural yet zippy dialogue, a gentle pace augmented with the ticking clock of peril, the tension mounts at such a pace that we can lap it all up without feeling rushed of short changed.
Defiantly one of the best Westerns ever made and the inspiration for so many that would follow.