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While established as a key cinematic text in the history of the American Western, High Noon is also an example of bucking convention.

Fred Zinnemann’s film is one subsumed in ominous dread, as the posse belonging to outlaw Frank Miller early on ride into the small New Mexico town of Hadleyville and declare the intent of their boss, free from prison, to return and kill Sheriff Will Kane, the man who put him in jail. It becomes a picture dedicated to the inevitable final act, in which Will—at the titular ‘high noon’—faces down his nemesis not just to save his life, but spare the soul and existence of Hadleyville and its residents from the oncoming force. High Noon loses nothing from this approach and, indeed, gains much from the tension Zinnemann stretches out of Frank’s impending return.

Gary Cooper imbues Will with a nobility, gravitas and grace as the town lawman who spends much of the film trying to convince his headstrong new bride Amy (the ever radiant Grace Kelly) to leave town, while encouraging the townsfolk to take a stand against the enemy around them. In that respect, High Noon gained a difficult reputation at the time of release and subsequently, deemed as it was a liberal response to the pervasive ‘McCarthyism’ rippling through American politics in the wake of the Korean War, and with the Cold War hotting up. Screenwriter Carl Foreman had been blacklisted by McCarthy’s House of Un-American Activities and John Wayne turned down the role of Will, believing the film to be distinctly ‘Un-American’.

High Noon weathered all this, and stood the test of time, to be regarded as one of the strongest examples of the American Western in cinema history, especially free of the pernicious politics that almost destroyed it.

There is a lot to say on High Noon and, thankfully, Eureka Entertainment have provided a pretty stellar release in their Masters of Cinema range to back that up.

  • Limited Edition Hardbound Slipcase [3000 copies]
  • A LIMITED EDITION 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
  • 4K Digital Restoration
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • 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
  • The Making of ‘High Noon’ [22 mins]– a documentary on the making of the film
  • Inside ‘High Noon’ [47 mins] and Behind ‘High Noon’ [10 mins] – two video pieces on the making and context of the film
  • Theatrical Trailer

Eureka always try and deliver quality material around the movies they release but they really pull all the stops out with this version of High Noon, festooned as it is with detailed bonus material. The Foreman interview from 50 years ago alone is the length of the film itself. This allows for an extensive, layered amount of analysis and coverage of what stands as an exemplary Western, and one of the strongest pictures of the 1950’s.

As a response to right-wing rhetoric, a brave allegory to the mass hysteria of its age, High Noon feels especially timely. We need all the Will Kane’s we can get.

★★★★☆

High Noon is now available on Blu-Ray from Eureka Entertainment.

One thought on “Blu-Ray Review: High Noon (1952)

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