#172 / 365 – ‘High Noon’ (1952) – 85 mins
IMDb Challenge #101 / 250 – Ranked #138 – Via iTunes
On the day of his wedding, retiring lawman Will Kane (Gary Cooper) must face a gang of criminals, headed by a vicious gunman Frank Miller (Ian Macdonald) he put aways several years ago, now released. Refusing to run from the situation, Kane is deserted by the townsfolk he has defended, to face the gang’s arrival on the noon train.
On this first viewing of High Noon the first thing I immediately noticed how very simple the set up is, the acting is simple, the direction is simple. This is where the fundamental problem lies, everything about High Noon is too simple and you never get any explanation on the back story between Kane and Miller, and why Miller is out for revenge. On a positive, this simplicity is played out in a ’24’ style real-time scenario. Kane has an hour to prepare for Miller’s arrival and throughout short 84 minute runtime we’re given shots of clocks to inform us of the impending train. This concept could have easily failed, but it actually proves to be effective and very suspenseful.
High Noon’s tagline is, Simple. Powerful. Unforgettable. It ticks that first box but sorely fails on the latter and is undeserving of its #138 IMDb ranking and ahead of a greater Western ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)’ at #246.