High Noon on Limited Edition Blu-ray

Sunday, 06 October 2019 16:16

Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his starring role in this taut Western. He plays Will Kane, a newly-retired marshal who is brimming with joy after his marriage to a beautiful woman (Grace Kelly), but who finds himself obliged to return to duty when a ghost from his past threatens his home and civilised way of life. Kane turns to the townsfolk for support but struggles to find anyone willing to stick their neck on the line.

The movie collected a further three Oscars for Editing, Music and Original Song ‘High Noon (“Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’”)’, but was vilified by some who perceived it as a critique of the McCarthyite, anti-Communist witch-hunts going on at the time. The narrative was based on an idea by writer Carl Foreman combined with a short story by John W. Cunningham called ‘The Tin Star’, and directed by Fred Zinnemann (“From Here to Eternity”, “The Day of the Jackal”).

In some senses, “High Noon” is an anti-Western along the same lines as Clint Eastwood’s “The Unforgiven”, a film with little action, a vulnerable central character and no gung-ho sentiment. Marshal Kane is an ordinary man full of fear and doubt, but compelled to stand up to the lawless, vengeful killers returning to the town of Hadleyville.

Played out in near real-time, the tension slowly but surely ratchets up as the clock approaches noon, the point at which a train carrying murderous Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald – “The Texas Rangers”) arrives. Lying in wait are Miller’s posse, including brother Ben (Sheb Wooley – Rawhide), Jack Colby (debutant Lee Van Cleef – “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”) and Jim Pierce (Robert J. Wilke – “The Magnificent Seven”). In a very memorable moment, the train’s entrance is signalled by a piercing death-whistle that cuts through the town like thunder.

The movie features a series of telling scenes where Kane tries to persuade first friends and colleagues, and then the entire town to back him up. This reaches a crescendo in a highly dramatic, near town-wide debate in a church as the congregation clash over the pros and cons, for example weighing up loyalty and bravery against the threat to life and the town’s future economy. The story is primarily driven by character and drama, where the action punctuates rather than controls proceedings.

Fantastic, measured acting by Cooper (“Sergeant York”, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”) is backed up by a solid performance by Kelly (“Rear Window”, “Dial M for Murder”), Lloyd Bridges (“Airplane”, the original Battlestar Galactica) as the flawed, impetuous deputy Marshal and Katy Jurado (“Trapeze”, “The Badlanders”) as a fiercely independent Mexican business woman who has had relationships with both Kane and Miller.

“High Noon” is unquestionably a classic Western and a welcome counterpoint to the more blood-thirsty and showy entries in the genre. If you have never seen it or forgotten how good it is, I urge you to revisit it now before the 3000-copy Limited Edition sells out.

Special features include:

  • Hardbound slipcase (Limited Edition only)
  • 100-page collector’s book featuring new writing on the film; the original short story The Tin Star by John W. Cunningham; excerpts from writings and interviews with director Fred Zinnemann; archival articles and materials relating to the film (Limited Edition only)
  • 4K Digital Restoration
  • The Making of High Noon [22 mins] a documentary on the making of the film
  • Inside High Noon [47 mins]
  • Behind High Noon [10 mins]
  • Brand new and exclusive audio commentary by historian Glenn Frankel, author of High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic
  • Brand new and exclusive audio commentary by western authority Stephen Prince
  • New video interview with film historian Neil Sinyard, author of Fred Zinnemann: Films of Character and Conscience
  • A 1969 audio interview with writer Carl Foreman from the National Film Theatre in London
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

The 4:3 aspect, black and white image quality is top notch, highlighting every furrow in Kane’s worried brow. The special features cover a lot of the same ground but between them give you every last detail you could want to know about the film.

“High Noon” (1952) is out now, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 85 minutes approx, carries a ‘U’ certificate and retails for £27.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com.

Last modified on Tuesday, 15 October 2019 16:21

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