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Saturday, September 27, 2008

High Noon (1952 Film)

High Noon is a classic Western movie, counted as among the top 100 movies of all time. The movie was released in 1952, and one of the classic devices used in the film was that it almost seemed real time, with the action depicted in the movie happening from a time period of around 10:40 AM to 12 noon (high noon) over the 84 minute time period of the movie. The movie was made in a time of the vicious (and mostly uncontested) anticommunist witch-hunt carried out by Senator Joesph McCarthy, and there is a lot of speculation about whether the scenario of the movie, the hero being abandoned by everybody else in the town under the threat of the killer coming to town was a play on the fact that the Senator's witch-hunt was not opposed (and in fact, many people actively collaborated on the same theme) by most people. It is only when several careers had been damaged, people had their reputations damaged, that questions and opposition started emerging.

High Noon (1952 Film)

High Noon is a classic tale of the contest between duty vs. love, the question that puts most men, including honorable men in a tizzy. When you have promised something to your love, and yet your duty is pushing you to take a step in the other direction, how does a good and just person decide what to do. You make the choices that duty forces you to make, knowing that you may be losing out on something that you love the most.
The movie is about this Marshall of the town of Hadleyville, Kansas called Will Kane (Gary Cooper); he has managed to clean the town and keeps it clean. However, his new wife Amy (Grace Kelly) is a Quaker, with pacifist tendencies, and he has promised her that he will become the same way, and give up this life of violence, death and law-enforcement. Accordingly, he is all set to give up his badge and become normal citizen, a storekeeper. And then he learns the news that will cause him to go into a moral dilemma. A convict he had captured, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), was freed on a technicality; and he has vowed to revenge himself on Will. The good way is for Will to go away from town, this will save the town from violence, and keep the promise he has made to Amy.
At the same time, Will is a honest law-enforcer and knows that Frank will not rest till he has hunted Will down, so he decides to remain and fight. Unfortunately, he finds that he has no support; his new wife is aghast that he has broken his promise and wants to leave on the train, with or without Will; the townspeople want to avoid a confrontation, and in a highly controversial stance, refuse to support Will (this was controversial, that American citizens would refuse to get involved in supporting their Marshall due to cowardice, a stance for which the movie was criticized). In the end, you have the classic scene of Will walking on the empty street, dressed in typical Western Gear, waiting for the train carrying Frank Miller to arrive.
In the fight, Will is against 4 enemies, and in a final situation, his wife helps him by shooting one of the gangsters in the back, and then fighting with Frank when he has held her hostage, till Will manages to kill Frank. In the final epic scene, Will leaves town with his wife, throwing his Marshall's star in the dirt in sheer contempt of the cowardly attitude of his townspeople.

Oscars won:

- Best Actor in a Leading Role (Gary Cooper)
- Best Film Editing (Elmo Williams and Harry W. Gerstad)
- Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture (Dimitri Tiomkin)
- Best Music, Song (Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington for "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin", sung by Tex Ritter).

Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing, Screenplay.

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