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High Noon (1952)

Marshal Will Kane, personally compelled to face his returning deadly enemy Frank Miller, finds that his fellow townspeople refuse to help him.

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(screenplay), (magazine story "The Tin Star")
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Won 4 Oscars. Another 13 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Martin Howe (as Lon Chaney)
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Sam Fuller (as Henry Morgan)
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Eve McVeagh ...
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Jim Pierce (as Robert Wilke)
Sheb Wooley ...
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Storyline

On the day he gets married and hangs up his badge, lawman Will Kane is told that a man he sent to prison years before, Frank Miller, is returning on the noon train to exact his revenge. Having initially decided to leave with his new spouse, Will decides he must go back and face Miller. However, when he seeks the help of the townspeople he has protected for so long, they turn their backs on him. It seems Kane may have to face Miller alone, as well as the rest of Miller's gang, who are waiting for him at the station... Written by Man_With_No_Name_126

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The story of a man who was too proud to run. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some western violence, and smoking | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

30 July 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A la hora señalada  »

Box Office

Budget:

$730,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A little while after the Hadleyville railroad station arrival scene, the town's name again appears on the town banks's nameplate--it simply says "Hadleyville Bank". See more »

Goofs

In the church scene, a young girl is still in the church next to her mother after all the children have been "dismissed"; in the very next shot she is not there. See more »

Quotes

Deputy Sheriff Herb Baker: [to Marshal Will Kane] You cleaned this town up. You made it fit for women and kids to live in.
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Connections

Featured in That's Action (1977) See more »

Soundtracks

High Noon
Ballad
by Dimitri Tiomkin
Lyrics by Ned Washington
Sung by Tex Ritter
Played often in the score
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"I've Got To. That's The Whole Thing."
15 July 2000 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The sombre ballad, the beleaguered marshall, the cold wife who deserts her man within an hour of marrying him ... "High Noon" is part of everyone's consciousness.

Will Kane is the veteran lawman of Hadleyville, a small Kansas town that used to be the playground of bad men, notorious among them one Frank Miller. "This is just a dirty little village in the middle of nowhere," but Kane cleaned it up. Five years ago he had Frank Miller committed to a distant federal court on a murder charge. Today, as Kane weds his quaker bride, news arrives that Miller is free and heading for Hadleyville. His henchmen gather at the depot, and it becomes clear that Frank will arrive on the midday train, looking to settle scores with the marshall who arrested him. Should Kane leave town with his bride, thus avoiding trouble for himself and for Hadleyville? Or should he stay and face the Miller gang? Will the citizens rally round their marshall?

John Wayne famously criticised the film for being 'unAmerican', in that (in his view) a frontier community would not desert its lawman so abjectly. Implicit in Wayne's malediction is the notion that mainstream movies should promote wholesome patriotic values - a notion that led in Wayne's case to the debacle of "The Green Berets". Zinneman's acclaimed film probes the ugly side of human nature, "sifting out the hearts of men".

Zinneman and Director of Photography Floyd Crosby devoted a lot of care to the look of the film, effort that paid off handsomely. From our first view of Lee Van Cleef as an ominous shadow on the horizon to the climactic cuts which seem to accelerate the arrival of the fateful train, this is a movie which speaks through images. The arid, flat expanses of Kansas mirror the impassive sky, and the town's rickety structures seem puny against the bleak magnificence of nature. Human wishes are vain in the face of Fate. Rail tracks extend with cruel exactitude into the distance, converging in perspective upon the vanishing point, the symbolic spot whence Frank Miller will materialise. Lurking in the depot's shade, the dark presence which is the Miller Gang bristles with malice.

Zinneman is not afraid of extreme close-ups, which he uses to reinforce moments of emotional power (Kane realising that he has no support, Helen refusing to beg). He shoots Kane predominantly from below waist height, stressing his tall, erect stance as a symbol of moral authority. Compositions are tight and attractive throughout.

Gary Cooper was fifty-one years old and quite ill when "High Noon" was shot. He is, in truth, too old for the part. Gregory Peck had turned it down, and it is fascinating to imagine Peck as Kane. There is no rapport whatsoever between Cooper and Grace Kelly, and they make unconvincing newly-weds. "I won't be there when it's over," says the blushing bride, and though the script tries valiantly to give Amy a motivation (she became a quaker after seeing her menfolk gunned down), the abiding impression is of Kelly's prissy coldness.

"High Noon" is, for an action western, surprisingly strong on character. The judge (Otto Kruger) is clear-headed about running away from the Millers, and argues his position powerfully, yet his authority is punctured by his actions as he speaks - lowering the Old Glory, and concealing the scales of justice. Lloyd Bridges is excellent as Harvey, the deputy whose moral vision is clouded by lust for Helen and immature resentment of Kane. Katy Jurado never looked lovelier than here, playing the fallen woman Helen Ramirez who loved and lost Kane - and loves him still. A young Harry Morgan is Sam Fuller, the self-important coward who cannot face Kane. Marshall Howe (Lon Chaney Jr.) is the retired lawman who is now embittered and counsels Kane against throwing his life away for the sake of these undeserving citizens - "They just don't care!" In a cameo of pivotal importance that must have been great fun to play, Howland Chamberlain is the bitchy hotel desk clerk who hits Amy with a few home truths. James Millican is Herb, the dependable deputy who vacillates when the chips are down, and Jack Elam makes a fleeting appearance as the town drunk who sleeps through the entire drama.

One interesting plot development is the strange alliance which forms between Kane's two women. They meet in Helen's hotel room and decide to leave town together. Significantly, as they ride past Kane in the buggy, it is Helen who looks back, not Amy.

It has been suggested that "High Noon" obeys Aristotle's three unities, especially that of time, the depicted events being capable of fitting into the film's ninety-minute span. Clocks are everywhere in Hadleyville, and the passing of the minutes is constantly emphasised. My only observation is, it remains ten minutes to twelve for an unconscionably long time.

"The day cometh that shall burn like an oven," we are informed, and I for one found the film's climax rather disappointing after the intense build-up. "It's our problem because this is our town," declares a local worthy, but neither he nor anyone does anything about it. Zinneman's great crane shot, about halfway through the film, speaks more eloquently than the hollow words, zooming back to show a silent, friendless street, and one upright man, utterly alone.


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