A town Marshal, despite the disagreements of his newlywed bride and the townspeople around him, must face a gang of deadly killers alone at high noon when the gang leader, an outlaw he sent up years ago, arrives on the noon train.
Wyoming, early 1900s. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid are the leaders of a band of outlaws. After a train robbery goes wrong they find themselves on the run with a posse hard on their heels. Their solution - escape to Bolivia.
George Roy Hill
On the day he gets married and hangs up his badge, Marshal 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
Jack Elam was not originally in the cast. After viewing the first full cut, the filmmakers realized the climactic gunfight didn't work. They resumed production with Gary Cooper and new cast member Elam. Elam recalled, "I knew [Cooper] very well. They also had some extras in the bar. We went back to the jail cell and did a few shots of me in the cell with Cooper walking around and seeing me in there snoring, and then they did a shot where he lets me out of jail, and I go into the bar, people are coming out because it's high noon. They did about a full minute of me in the bar doing my drunken clown act. I'm taking drinks and putting drinks under my arms and all that. They were going to cut back and forth between me and the gunfight. But then they turned the picture loose with the regular gunfight before they added our stuff, and it got rave reviews. so they never put that stuff in. The only part they put in was to establish who I was, and the only thing you see of me in the bar was when I was going in and everyone else was coming out. The credits were already written up when I went to work. They didn't bother to put my name in, and that's why I didn't get the credit. But I was very happy because I got to work two days, and there was about a half a day with Cooper and me, and what a gentleman he was! There was about a day of me going into the bar and then of me just wandering around the bar. I understand there are some videocassettes of 'High Noon', but I don't think you can buy them in a store, where those scenes of mine are included in the outtakes, but I have never seen them. The last thing you see of me in the movie is when I'm going in the bar and the people are rushing out." See more »
In a number of scenes there are Pabst Brewing signs seen on the inside and outside walls of the saloon. Although Pabst did brew in 1848, it did so under the name Best and Company and did not change to Pabst until 1889; the 37-star flag suggests the setting dates are between 1867-77. See more »
Buffalo Gals (Won't You Come Out Tonight)
Written by William Cool White
[Played offscreen on piano in the saloon] See more »
A Man Who Won't Run Away
For me, Will Kane embodies the American ideal of a hero: a man who stands up for what is right, even when nobody else does, even when the temptation is strong to stick the head in the sand.
Will Kane explains his outlook at the outset: there is no point in running away if that means spending the rest of your life watching your back. His best chance is to face his enemies on his home ground. At this point, he still thinks that honest folk will stand by him. The rest of the movie is a study in character: will he stand his ground when his entire world crumbles around him?
It is puzzling that Howard Hawks, John Wayne, and others thought of High Noon as un-American. I am not sure if this is because of the allegory of the McCarthy era; or the people of an American town collectively sticking their heads in the sand; or the Marshal throwing his badge to the ground in the last scene.
Clearly, the movie does not criticize McCarthyism itself. (It has nothing to say about communism, either.) It appears to criticize the people who did not stand up to McCarthy and the HUAAC, but it can equally well be seen as a comment on the appeasers who did not stand up to fascism or communism.
In any case, not too much must be made of the anti-appeasement angle, because the townsfolk is not the primary focus of the movie: the focus is on Will Kane. When the townsfolk behave like cowards, that gives Will Kane a chance to prove that he is a hero. If the town had stood by the Marshal, we would have seen, at best, an excellent Western like Rio Bravo, but not a masterpiece like High Noon. For Will Kane to be a hero, it is necessary that he stands alone.
No statement can convey the dramatic impact of Will Kane throwing his badge away, but it is worth discussing what this gesture means. For me, it means that the town and the badge were not worth fighting for. Will Kane fought for principle: he fought because he does not run away.
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