4K UHD Review: High Noon | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Sunday, May 26th, 2024  

High Noon [4K UHD]

Studio: Kino Lorber Studio Classics

May 07, 2024 Web Exclusive Photography by Kino Lorber Bookmark and Share

Fred Zinnemann’s High Noon is a riveting, wildly entertaining Western that focuses on the moments leading up to a standoff rather than the standoff itself.

In High Noon, Marshal Will Kane’s (Gary Cooper) outlook looks good for approximately five minutes. The film opens with a scene capturing the small-town sheriff getting married and turning in his badge, ready to leave his position as the chief defender of Hadleyville for good. Within moments of his resignation, a telegram arrives, informing him (and the townsfolk) that one of the most evil men he sent to prison, Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), has somehow been pardoned. Even worse: Miller’s headed back to town, on the train arriving at noon, to exact his revenge on the sheriff. Kane checks the clock; the train’s arrival is only a little more than an hour away.

Upon hearing the news, the townsfolk encourage Kane and his wife, Amy (Grace Kelly), to flee the city, which they do. Shortly after, though, Kane forces them to turn around, declaring that fighting Miller is his duty and immediately creating a rift between himself and Amy, who declares that she will leave the town on the 12-o’clock train, with or without Kane. Amy leaves him and waits for the train at a nearby hotel.

Following this setup, most of the film captures Kane trying to recruit a group of honorary marshals, visiting the town’s primary institutions—the police station, the saloon and the Church, to name a few—to see who may be interested in standing by his side. It is through this plotline that most of the film’s tension builds—especially as no one volunteers to suport the marshall. Zinnemann and screenwriter Carl Foreman smartly build the film’s intensity by juxtaposing the literal dwindling of the clock with the increasing sense of hopelessness that Kane faces. As the film moves forward, and as the marshal comes up short time and time again, a sense of dread takes over as we watch the character realize that he will likely have to face Miller and his gang alone, with nothing but his gun and his pride. In this sense, even though the film subverts certain aspects of the typical Western—straying away from depicting the usual, action-packed standoffs and leaning into the power of conversations instead—it feels just as tense as any other film in its genre.

Exploring the moments before the standoff also allows High Noon to deliver searing themes on both individual and communal pride. Based on how the townsfolk first react to the news of Miller returning to Hadleyville during the film’s opening sequence, it’s almost surprising how everyone shuns Kane, belittles him or even bets on his defeat. But Kane isn’t a perfect figure, or the perfect hero, either. Sure, defending the town has been his duty, but the character’s refusal to let his duty go—determining that it is only he who can lead the charge against Miller—often complicates his relationships with other people in the town, including his fellow marshals. In this sense, the film can be examined as a showcase of how difficult it is to unify a group of people against a cause, but also an exhibition of how excessive pride can alter our relationships with the people closest to us and our broader community.

Of course, for Western fans, fear not: High Noon concludes with a sharply shot and precisely blocked standoff that provides entertaining, popcorn-worthy relief to some of the film’s heavier ideas. It is by exploring these broader concepts first and letting the film’s tension increase gradually yet effectively throughout the film’s runtime that this final sequence is so rewarding.

Kino Lorber’s new 4K master of High Noon looks incredible, bringing Hadleyville and its problems to life in a visually engaging and unforgettable way. Alongside the 4K UHD and regular Blu-ray versions of the film, the release includes a lengthy list of extras. Among the finest: two new audio commentaries, a featurette exploring the film’s relation to the Hollywood blacklists and multiple featurettes focused on the making of the film.



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