High Noon: Paying the High Price

         I am a huge fan of Westerns. After watching High Noon, directed in 1052 by Fred Zinneman, that love for Westerns has grown even more. This film is beautifully made. The best qualities of this movie are the acting, directing, and suspense. All three of these traits combine to form one great movie.

         The star of this film is Gary Cooper, who plays Marshall Will Kane. The movie focuses on Kane trying to form a posse to stand up to the villainous Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), who will be arriving in town on the noon train. Kane finds that no one is willing to stand beside him, despite all the good he has done for the town. Cooper gives what could be considered his best performance. He goes from a man who wants to do what is best for his wife, to a man who wants to protect his town, to a man who stands alone against evil. Cooper plays all of these roles excellently. Cooper shows complete masculinity, righteousness and a sense of justice. It is difficult to not sympathize with Cooper in his situation that gets continuously worse as noon gets closer.

         Grace Kelly does an excellent job as well. She played the part of Amy Fowler Kane, who is a Quaker that does not believe in violence. Her character has tremendous growth. She goes from standing rigorously by her religion never to commit violence to picking up a gun to shoot a man, Frank Miller, to save the life of her husband. Kelly plays the role so perfectly that the viewers want to shake her during the middle of the film and tell her to stand by her man, which she does at the end.

         The directing in this movie is incredible. The shot composition, music, sets, costumes, and acting really give the viewers the feel that it really is almost noon with a relentless sun beating down. The viewers can almost smell the dust circling around the air. The film was done in black and white, which I think made it even better. Color would have taken away from the suspense and feeling of dread in the film.

         What I loved about this movie was the constant suspense. From the beginning of the movie, the viewers know that something is going to go wrong. The suspense starts to build from the moment Kane finds out that Frank Miller is coming back to town. As Kane is leaving town with his wife, I found myself yelling at the screen telling him to go back to town and face him. Kane decides to turn around and finds abandonment for the first time by his wife, who refuses to support his cause. Undeterred Kane goes to town and starts looking for deputies to help him fight off Miller and his gang. The suspense starts to leap and bound as people turn down Kane one after the other. Even his best friend will not come to the door to fight for him. The suspense comes to a climax when Kane is walking down the empty streets by himself heading for the train station, where Miller will arrive.

         The movie has a great ending with Kane fighting off Miller and his goons with the help of his wife. Kane ends the movie by throwing his badge in the dirt and leaving the town that abandoned him. The film really showed that courage and valor come at a price, even at times abandoning religious principles or friendships.

Curt Stewart

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