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High Noon (1952) - Blu-ray Review

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High Noon (1952) - Blu-ray Review

High Noon - 60th Anniversary Edition

5 Stars

Think you know westerns?  If you haven’t seen High Noon, then you are two boots short of a genuine cowboy outfit.  In 1952, this “little” film defied the genre and saved all its bullet-slinging action for the final few moments.  And what of the rest of the film?  It’s all suspense and every last bead of perspiration on Gary Cooper’s face is felt as he tries to assemble a few decent men to protect the town from the notorious Frank Miller.  Winner of four Academy Awards and considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made, High Noon has finally arrived on blu-ray. {googleads}

High Noon, at its heart, is a universal morality play that at times is better than anything Shakespeare ever penned.  Screenwriter Carl Foreman positions Will Kane (Cooper), the longtime marshal of Hadleyville, New Mexico Territory against recently released Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald) in a violent showdown.  Trouble is, Kane can’t seem to rely on anyone to help him face Miller and his gang.  His deputy, Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges), resigns.  His friends and associates, Sam Fuller (Harry Morgan) and Judge Percy Mettrick (Otto Kruger), refuse the call and even his mentor Martin Howe (Lon Chaney, Jr) backs away.  His new wife, Amy (Grace Kelley), confused by his past association with Helen Ramírez (Katy Jurado), chooses the train over staying by his side…at first.

"It’s a classic and, as a classic, it deserves a new audience each and every year."


Kane is a man alone.  Protecting the town is his duty.

Picketed by everyone from the Klu Klux Klan to the All American Activities Committee upon its release, High Noon – due to the screenwriter’s classification as an "uncooperative witness" by the House of Un-American Activities Committee during the Red Scare – quickly was cast out of favor.  Even John Wayne hated the film.  Director Howard Hawks disliked the film so much he made Rio Bravo with the Duke as a rebuttle to it. Believe it or not, High Noon was that politically received and polarizing.

Nowadays, we simply call it a classic.

Of course, director Fred Zinnemann never intended the Cold War era politics to weigh down the picture. This is a movie about one man’s moral consciousness. Is that truly an unamerican act?  Of course not.  Latching on to the static image of a cracked railroad, Zinnemann (a relative King among B-movie makers) goes about breaking up the formulaic western genre with an innovative visual punch that matches script to screen time as High Noon ticks its way toward its confrontational showdown.

High Noon (1952) - Blu-ray Review

And not a nuance is missed. Realistic details are pushed forward. Any notions of a picturesque western are shoved aside; the normal cloud-filled skies are stripped of any appeal and there’s only a vast emptiness looking over the happenings. Hadleyville is not a town you want to be in, near, or from. It’s a town you want to avoid.

Cooper might have had no formal training in acting, but that never stopped him from becoming one of our most beloved actors.  His performance here is quiet, sure and never melodramatic; he’s a natural.  Other actors tend to look as if they are overacting in the scenes they share with him.  His lines simply roll out with such snapping precision - much like the quick and fabulous editing job done by Elmo Williams and Harry W. Gerstad. All of which were rewarded for their efforts by the Academy when awards season came about. For Cooper, it would be his one and only Academy Award.

High Noon is a tightly wound film that never loses focus on the duties of the individual and his conflict of conscience. Just as Tex Ritter (the father of the late John Ritter) sings, “Do Not Forsake Me, O My Darlin'”, neither should you ignore this film. It’s a classic and, as a classic, it deserves a new audience each and every year.

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High Noon - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: This film has not been rated by the MPAA.
Director
: Fred Zinnerman
Writer
: Carl Foreman
Cast:
Gary Cooper; Thomas Mitchell; Lloyd Bridges; Grace Kelly; Lon Chaney, Jr.; Harry Morgan
Genre: Classic | Western
Tagline:
When these hands point straight up...the excitement starts!
Memorable Movie Quote: "This is crazy, I don't even have any guns."
Theatrical Distributor:
United Artists
Official Site:
Home Video Distributor:
Olive Films
Theatrical Release Date:
August 13, 1952
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 17, 2012

Synopsis: A marshall, personally compelled to face a returning deadly enemy, finds that his own town refuses to help him.

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High Noon (1952) - Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

High Noon - 60th Anniversary Edition

Available on Blu-ray - July 17, 2012
Screen Formats: 1.35:1
Subtitles
: None
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: 25GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Playback: Region A

Olive Films have outsmarted the naysayers with this release. Looking brighter and sharper than any previous release, the 1080p transfer is quite strong. Depth suffers a bit with some shots, but the contrast is nicely balanced and certainly brings out the craftmanship in the feature. The image hasn’t been restored. This is important to acknowledge and yet the amount of detail most of the frames contain is alarming. In fact, the film looks surprisingly crisp. The low-key western gets it done with a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track that – while a bit limited in range – serves the picture well. There’s nothing here that is going to shake the floorboards or the walls but it certainly doesn’t muffle its actors or Dmitri Tiomkin's Oscar winning score.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Yikes.  The famous commentary featured on other releases does not make an appearance here. What kind of Anniversary party is this?

Special Features:

Well, disappointingly, there is but one. Olive Films usually don’t include supplementals on their releases so I suppose we should just sit back and enjoy the Leonard Maltin-hosted special about the making of the film.  Except I’ve seen it before. Film School. Filled with interviews from Stanley Kramer, Fred Zinnemann, Lloyd Bridges, David Crosby (as his father was the cinematographer) and John Ritter (his father sang the opening song), the 22 minute featurette is interesting and packed with good information about the film.

  • The Making of High Noon (22 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer

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