Reality of Films

        When I think of a 1950's paranoia film, I think of a film that allows its viewer to become enveloped in a plot that seems implausible such as in an alien invasion, i.e. Don Siegel's Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956). A movie that does not immediately come to mind and still fits the description of the paranoia genre, is a film entitled High Noon (Fred Zinnemann 1952). Within this film the paranoia of one man's worst fear has come to life. Will Kane protagonist (Gary Cooper) has just married a woman named Amy (Grace Kelly). He has decided to give up his violent life as a Marshall in a Western town to start again with his new wife, a Quaker. This was before he discovered his "enemy," Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) was returning from jail, thanks to an early release. Since Will Kane had been the man who had put him in jail, Will Kane is this jail bird's number one target of the gun. From the plot thus far it is difficult to determine where the paranoia is supposed to be coming from. It could be coming from the paranoia of a man that is coming to kill Will Kane. It could also be coming from somewhere else.

        The somewhere else is the paranoia of abandonment. The paranoia of abandonment is a fear that all people have of being abandoned by strangers, friends, and family alike. Within this Western is a hidden plot that shows Will Kane being abandoned by his friends and family (his new wife, who opposes violence on religious principles). Will Kane had turned the town that was full of rough and tough law breakers into a town where a woman did not fear walking down the streets. These same citizens that were happy to have a town fit for children later turn their backs on the man that helped make the town safe. Almost all of them refuse to help Will Kane with the problem that he had once disposed of because the town had wanted him to. This film was the first that our class has viewed that addressed a real problem, without the fairy tale ending. What one would expect to find is an ending in which the whole town joins together to rid the town of the enemy altogether. Instead Will Kane survives the encounter with the enemy from some help only from his wife, and then he chucks his Marshall's badge onto the ground and turns his back on the Western town.

        The reason this movie is monumental is not only due to its being our class's first Western but also because it has more of a reality edge to it than any of the other films. Sure other films dealt with real issues such as Erich von Stroheim's Greed (1924). High Noon (1950), on the other hand, dealt with a true to humanity ending. People would abandon their hero in fear of an evil person. That is what people do best. People run and hide if they are not directly affected and leave the dirty work to someone else. It was the first film that we have watched that took out the Hollywood fairy tale ending. This trend has led many movies of our day and age to be able to have endings more true to life, where people die and not every one lives happily ever after. The reason this is such a good aspect of films to have is so that people watching the films will no longer have this idealistic way of viewing life as though it were a bed of roses. Instead they will have to take the good with the bad.

Rebecca Cripps

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