John Wayne, Save Your Breath

        It should no doubt come as a shock, as it really does seem ironic, to learn how the greatest, if not the most definitive, of all western films ever produced would not be worthy of praise by the likes of John Wayne much less. In fact, not long after the release of High Noon (1952), John Wayne would be known to comment upon this now much beloved and revered American classic, as directed by Fred Zinnemann, for being an all too un-American film. However, before all this took place, when John Wayne had gone to pick up the Oscar on behalf of Gary Cooper, who had not been present at the awards ceremony, he had indeed spoke despondently to the attendees about not receiving for himself the role of Marshall Will Kane, for which Cooper had played splendidly.

        However, in actuality, John Wayne was not the only one who decried the supposed lack of patriotism inherit in the film High Noon (1952). It was because of the film's perceived liberal preachiness for its time that drew the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee toward the screenwriter Carl Foreman. Not wanting to take his chances, Foreman fled to England as soon as the filming of High Noon (1952) was complete. Hence, High Noon (1952) is often, and rightfully so, seen as an allegory of any who dared to stand against the rampant blacklisting initiated by the HUAAC. Throughout the film, the connotation of the generally respectable title of "law-abiding citizen" becomes warped into something quite malevolent. We soon learn that because of the cowardice of the masses, the townsfolk of Hadleyville have turned themselves into little more than cattle to be herded by the stronger force at play.

        Still, Marshall Will Kane (Gary Cooper) showed some real guts when he fought back those outlaws. Surely John Wayne could have at least respected this aspect of High Noon.

John Couris

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