Review by Michael Jacobson
Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, Thomas Mitchell, Katy Jurado
Director: Fred Zinnemann
Audio: Dolby Digital 3.1, Dolby Mono
Video: Full Frame 1.33:1
Features: See Review
Length: 85 Minutes
Release Date: October 22, 2002
making me run, Amy. I've never
run from anyone in my life.”
Noon was the
film that broke a lot of conventional thinking when it came to westerns, and
started a lot of new thinking in the process. Before Kiefer Sutherland was counting down his 24 hours,
Gary Cooper, in his Oscar winning performance as Marshal Will Kane was watching
the hands of the clock heading straight up to his date with destiny.
it was more than the real-time feel that made the film such a blatant contrast
to the common Western at the time. As
the genre evolved from black and white to color, as scenery became more lavish
and lush, as white hat heroes fought black hearted villains, High Noon offered
a simple modern morality play. No
color, no flaming sunset backgrounds, and interestingly enough, no real action
until the climax. It was the tale
of a man following his conscience despite overwhelming odds…a man facing
almost certain death, and confessing his fear, but facing it as his way of doing
the right thing.
story is simple. Kane, on the day
of his wedding and official retirement as a law man, gets word that an old
nemesis, a murderer he helped put away, is coming into town on the noon train to
exact his revenge. Though a new
chapter in his life has just begun, the new Marshal won't be in town til the
next day, and Kane feels obligated to stay and face the inevitable
to his dismay, he quickly learns that no one, including his new wife, approves
of his decision. Instead of finding
him heroic, most find him just plain stupid.
As the clock ticks away to high noon, Kane desperately searches for men
to help him face the killer and his three henchmen, but no one will.
performance is truly brilliant: as the time draws nearer and nearer, he seems to
grow older and wearier before our eyes, as he becomes more and more aware that
he's probably going to die, and die alone. One of the great cinematic elements
of the film is the way it unfolds in real time.
Watch the clocks in the scenes, and compare them to the time remaining on
your disc. Both will show just about the same amount of time left until high
appearing in this picture are a very young Lloyd Bridges, and in her first major
role, an absolutely radiant Grace Kelly as the new Mrs. Kane.
Other big names in smaller roles: Lon
Chaney, Henry Morgan, Thomas Mitchell and Lee Van Cleef (who doesn't speak a
word, but his presence is unmistakable).
the performances only make up part of the experience…the Oscar winning editing
keep the suspense building by keeping the little seen threat real while Kane
makes his desperate pleas for help. Director
Fred Zinnemann was one of the first to use extensive storyboards to plan his
shooting…mostly to bow to time constraints, but the final product proved that
the planning was well worth it, as the editing, camerawork and performances all
work together to march the story toward its inevitable conclusion.
And I haven't even mentioned the Oscar winning score and song, “Do
Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'”, as sung unforgettably by Tex Ritter…a tune
that became an instant classic.
large on the cinema landscape. Modestly
constructed but streamlined and timeless, it's no wonder it remains a fan
favorite and an influential entry in American film history.
This is a shining example of clean, high contrast black and white
photography made luminescent by DVD. Here
is a rich, detailed world of light and shadow, with strong, crisp images that
deliver a real sense of atmosphere. The
print is amazingly clean for its age…grain, dirt and debris are minimal to
non-existent. I'd easily rank
this amongst the best black and white offerings I've seen on disc…superb!
get your choice of original mono mix or a newly remastered 4 channel offering,
which seems to utilize the three front speakers and the subwoofer.
Dynamic range is fairly formidable, as the terrific score by Dimitri
Tiomkin gets rounded out nicely with the extra bass.
Dialogue is clean and clear. A
bit of noise is slightly evident during the more quieter scenes, but nothing
distracting, and certainly within acceptable limits for a film celebrating its
features are quite cool, starting with a nice documentary on the making of the
film hosted by Leonard Maltin, and featuring a few interview clips with Lloyd
Bridges talking about the man he lovingly refers to as “Coop”.
There is also a short 10 minute retrospective hosted by Cooper's
daughter Maria Cooper-Janis, a second generation commentary track featuring her,
Tim Zinnemann (son of director Fred), and John Ritter (son of crooner Tex).
Though their memories are second hand, they service a solid tribute to
their fathers and the work they did on the film.
out is an original Ralph Emery radio broadcast featuring Tex Ritter (a little
over five minutes), and DVD trailers for Artisan's special editions for this
film, The Quiet Man and Rio Grande.