Our Weekly Entertainment Dispatch
High Noon – Iconic western with a view on the current state of policing
High Noon (1952) is widely regarded as one of the best western films of all time. Gary Cooper’s portrayal of Marshal Will Kane is one of the great characters in film history. Not only an entertaining movie, it was also controversial for its political and social themes. High Noon is not the simple, good-marshal- fearlessly-rides-in-to-save-the-day, movie many portray it as.
The film is the perfect metaphor for the current state of policing in most American cities today. An aging Marshal Kane gets married to his Quaker (pacifist) wife and is about to retire and leave town. He learns that Frank Miller, a criminal that Kane arrested, was pardoned and released by negligent politicians (let us know when this starts to sound familiar). Miller and his gang are on the way back to town on the noon train to seek revenge against those who put him in prison.
Marshall Kane’s deputies abandon him. He seeks help from the townspeople to raise a posse to stop the Miller Gang. Despite the fact that Kane is acknowledged as the best marshal in town history and credited with making the frontier settlement safe, he gets no help. I won’t give the rest away, but suffice to say it only gets worse. Kane is a man alone against impossible odds.
Unfortunately, this is how many large city cops see themselves today. Politicians have made their job impossible. Citizens often don’t give the support that they need. Older cops tell rookies to give up. It seems like everyone is more interested in looking out for the bad guys. But good police officers’ sense of duty and honor make them put on the uniform day after day. They feel like Marshal Kane, a man alone against impossible odds. It is remarkable that a film from 1952 can be so relevant today.
Not only is High Noon a pertinent film, but it is also highly entertaining. Gary Cooper won the Best Actor Oscar for his performance (back when that meant something). Grace Kelly plays his wife, the pacifist who fights her inner conflict. A young Lloyd Bridges is the Deputy Marshal who abandons Kane in his time of need, and Lon Chaney Jr (every monster flick), Henry Morgan (MASH), and Katy Jurado all give excellent performances. And Lee Van Kleef, an iconic bad guy, makes his film debut.
Excellent screenwriting and cinematography put every minute of the film to good use. You can feel Kane’s fear and loneliness.
High Noon runs an hour-and-a-half. I’m not alone in saying: It is one of the finest films that Hollywood has ever made and should be a must-see for every American.
We couldn’t find it streaming for free but is available at most libraries or library apps such as Hoopla and Kanopy. It can also be rented for the $2-3 from Amazon Prime, YouTube, and the other usual suspects.
Enjoy the movie and support your local police!