Sunday, March 02, 2014

Fred Zinemann-directed High Noon a movie with a tight screenplay

Fred Zinemann made that memorable other movie, From Here To Eternity, the year after he made High Noon (1952), and there is a deep sense of political and moral realism in his films. In High Noon, he shows Gary Cooper playing Kane the marshal of a frontier town with dignity and integrity. Kane wants to stay back and face the return of a criminal from prison when everyone, including the judge who convicted him, flee from the town. Kane goes about town seeking help from fellow-citizens and politics, sheer cowardice and self-interest of the townsfolk leaves him almost alone. The Quaker woman played by Grace Kelly he got married to is not willing stay back and confront and wants to leave town without her husband.
There is also the beautiful hotel-keeper played by the stunningly sultry Katy Jurado, the Mexican actress. One of the best scenes in the movie is the encounter between Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado.
Zinemann shows the stark political and social reality of a frontier town and places the simple American hero who wants to do his duty in the middle of it all. The hero, Kane, finds himself alone when the townspeople refuse to stand with him in confronting the criminal. Even as Kane scurried round the town looking for help, Zinemann gives a collective portrait of the individuals and the town. Kane is no great hero because he is aware of his vulnerability. At a point, when a deputy asks him whether he is afraid, Kane says, "I guess so" but says that when a man is tired many thoughts go through the mind.

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