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High Noon

Directed by Fred Zinnemann.
With Gary Cooper, Thomas Mitchell, Lloyd Bridges.
US, 1952, DCP, black & white, 85 min.
DCP source: Swank

Fred Zinnemann’s now-classic moral Western was despised by Hawks and John Wayne, who decried the Austrian-born director’s vision of the West as “un-American.” In truth, Zinnemann was inspired by the distinctly “un-American” sentiments transforming Hollywood—the HUAC trials and Red Scare that had punished many politically outspoken artists and victimized countless others with a culture of fear and self-serving conservative rectitude. Viewed today, High Noon stands upright not only as a cautionary tale about how the high road is often the loneliest, but also as a remarkable exploration of subjective and expressive narrative in which the almost real-time structure allows each passing minute to be felt as lashes across the back of Gary Cooper’s sheriff as he walks in a kind of Passion through the increasingly deserted town toward the deadly showdown that awaits.

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The Complete Howard Hawks

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