AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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High Noon
Director: Fred Zinnemann (Dir)
Release Date:   30 Jul 1952
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 24 Jul 1952
Production Date:   5 Sep--13 Oct 1951 at Motion Picture Center
Duration (in mins):   84-85 or 87
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Cast:   Gary Cooper (Will Kane)  
    Thomas Mitchell (Jonas Henderson)  
    Lloyd Bridges (Harvey Pell)  
    Katy Jurado (Helen Ramirez)  
    Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler Kane)  
    Otto Kruger (Judge Percy Mettrick)  
    Lon Chaney [Jr.] (Martin Howe)  
    Henry ["Harry"] Morgan (Sam Fuller)  
    Ian MacDonald (Frank Miller)  
    Eve McVeagh (Mildred Fuller)  
    Morgan Farley (Minister)  
    Harry Shannon (Cooper)  
    Lee Van Cleef (Jack Colby)  
    Robert Wilke (James Pierce)  
    Sheb Wooley (Ben Miller)  
    Tom London (Sam)  
    Ted Stanhope (Station master)  
    Larry Blake (Gillis)  
    William Phillips (Barber)  
    Jeanne Blackford (Mrs. Henderson)  
    James Millican (Baker)  
    Cliff Clark (Weaver)  
    Ralph Reed (Johnny)  
    William Newell (Jimmy)  
    Lucien Prival (Bartender)  
    Guy Beach (Fred)  
    Howland Chamberlin (Hotel clerk)  
    Virginia Christine (Mrs. Simpson)  
    Virginia Farmer (Mrs. Fletcher)  
    Jack Elam (Charlie)  
    Paul Dubov (Scott)  
    Harry Harvey (Coy)  
    Tim Graham (Sawyer)  
    Nolan Leary (Lewis)  
    Tom Greenway (Ezra)  
    Dick Elliott (Kibbee)  
    John Doucette (Trumbull)  

Summary: At 10:30 on a quiet morning in 1870, three outlaws ride into the western town of Hadleyville just as its marshal, Will Kane, is being married to a pretty Quaker named Amy Fowler. To please Amy, Will resigns his post immediately after the ceremony, but he is troubled because the new marshal has not arrived to take his place. Suddenly the station master rushes in with the terrible news that Frank Miller, a wild outlaw whom Will had arrested for murder five years earlier, recently received a pardon and is due to arrive in Hadleyville on the noon train. The three outlaws, Jack Colby, Ben Miller and James Pierce, have ridden to the station and are awaiting Miller's arrival. Alarmed, the wedding guests urge Will and Amy to leave town immediately, but after only a few moments on the road, Will turns the wagon around and heads back. "I expect he'll come looking for me," Will replies when Amy asks for an explanation. Will's young wife begs him to leave with her, and when he protests that he has never run from anyone, she threatens to leave on the train whether or not he accompanies her. Will hurriedly begins to make plans for the town's defense, and is surprised when Judge Percy Mettrick, who had sentenced Miller to be hanged, packs his belongings and flees. Will is relieved to see Harvey Pell, his deputy, still in town, but Harvey, angry that an outsider was hired to replace the retiring marshal, agrees to stay only if Will promises to support his bid for the post. Will refuses, whereupon Harvey removes his guns and walks out. Will visits his old flame, businesswoman Helen Ramirez, who had formerly been Miller's mistress. Will warns Helen about Frank, and she admits that she has sold her store and plans to depart on the noon train. In the saloon, men who enjoyed the rowdy times when Frank and his henchmen controlled the town celebrate his imminent return and refuse Will's request for help. Will then visits the home of his friend, Sam Fuller, but as Sam listens from the next room, his wife tells Will that he is not at home. Next, Will interrupts the church service to ask for deputies. Although several of the townspeople proclaim that it is Will who has made their town safe and decent, many of them also argue that Miller's impending arrival is not their problem. Finally, Mayor Jonas Henderson declares that a gunfight would hurt the town's image and that Will should have left when he had the chance. Stunned, Will leaves the church and asks his mentor, Martin Howe, for help. Howe, once the marshal himself, has become cynical, however, and after Will exits his home, he mumbles, "It's all for nothing, Will." Harvey, now drunk, tries to force Will to leave town, but Will refuses, and the two men fight until the marshal knocks his former deputy unconscious. As noon approaches, Amy visits Helen, who assures her that there is no longer anything between herself and Will. She also reproaches the young wife for not defending her husband, but softens after Amy reveals that both her father and brother were killed in a gunfight. In Will's office, the only citizen who had willingly pinned on a deputy's badge now backs out and goes home, leaving the marshal utterly alone. Will writes his last will and testament, then enters the deserted street as Amy and Helen drive a wagon toward the train station. The train arrives, and as Miller disembarks, the two women get on board. Miller straps on his gun, and the four outlaws walk toward the center of town, where Will awaits them. When one of the outlaws breaks a window, Will is able to duck inside a building and shoot him. Hearing the shot, Amy gets off the train and runs back to town. Will kills another of his attackers and takes cover in the livery stable, which the two remaining outlaws set on fire. As the frightened horses charge out, Will leaps on one and makes his escape, but falls after being shot in the arm. Amy shoots one of the gunmen in the back before he can shoot Will, but is captured by Miller, who uses her as a hostage. In response to Miller's threats, Will faces him in the street, but Amy pushes the outlaw, giving Will the chance to shoot him dead. Amy and Will embrace, and the townspeople rush into the street. Disgusted by the cowardice of his former friends, Will tosses his tin star in the dirt at their feet, then leaves with Amy. 

Production Company: Stanley Kramer Productions, Inc.  
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Fred Zinnemann (Dir)
  Emmett Emerson (Asst dir)
  Nina Moise (Dial dir)
Producer: Carl Foreman (Assoc prod)
Writer: Carl Foreman (Scr)
Photography: Floyd Crosby (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Rudolph Sternad (Prod des)
  Ben Hayne (Art dir)
Film Editor: Harry Gerstad (Ed supv)
  Elmo Williams (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Murray Waite (Set dec)
Costumes: Joe King (Men's ward)
  Ann Peck (Ladies' ward)
Music: Dimitri Tiomkin (Mus comp and dir)
  George Emick (Mus ed)
Sound: Jean Speak (Sd eng)
  Sound Services, Inc. (Magnetic rec by)
Special Effects: Willis Cook (Spec eff)
Make Up: Gustaf Norin (Makeup)
  Louise Miehle (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Clem Beauchamp (Prod supv)
  Percy Ikerd (Unit mgr)
  Morris Rosen (Head grip)
  Sam Freedle (Scr clerk)
  Jack Merton (Casting dir)
  Len Simpson (Dir of pub)
  Fred Polangin (Merchandising dir)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "High Noon," music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Ned Washington, sung by Tex Ritter.
Composer: Dimitri Tiomkin
  Ned Washington
Source Text: Based on the short story "The Tin Star" by John W. Cunningham in Collier's (6 Dec 1947).
Authors: John W. Cunningham

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Stanley Kramer Productions, Inc. 30/8/1952 dd/mm/yyyy LP1846 Yes

PCA NO: 15653
Physical Properties: Sd: Western Electric Recording
  b&w:

 
Genre: Western
Sub-Genre: Suspense
 
Subjects (Major): Courage
  Disillusionment
  Loyalty
  Marshals
  Outlaws
  Revenge
  Wives
 
Subjects (Minor): Churches
  Clocks
  Deputies
  Duty
  Fistfights
  Friendship
  Gunfights
  Hotel clerks
  Hypocrisy
  Judges
  Marriage
  Mayors
  Mexican Americans
  Pacifism and pacifists
  Quakers
  Saloons
  Small town life
  Train stations

Note: NYT articles from spring 1949 indicate that producer Stanley Kramer's company Screen Plays Corp. was to produce the film and that Mark Robson, who had directed earlier Kramer pictures, might direct it. According to a 12 Mar 1949 LAT news item, Kirk Douglas and Lola Albright were originally set to star in the film. Modern sources note that John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Gregory Peck were all considered to play "Will Kane" before Gary Cooper was signed for the role.
       According to a 10 Jan 1953 HCN article, actors James Brown, Roberta Haynes and John Daheim, all of whom are listed on HR production charts, shot scenes for the film that were deleted before the final release. In the article, Brown describes the deleted scenes: "They were to be intercuts all through the picture, the idea being that Cooper says he knows he can count on Toby (his other deputy) if he gets there in time. The cuts show me taking my time with fights and drinking beer at a stage coach 'stop' with Roberta. In the scene she lets me know that if I stay, the time won't be wasted as far as our romance is concerned."
       A studio plot synopsis contained in the MPAA/PCA collection at the AMPAS Library lists Brown's character as "Toby," Daheim's character as "Peterson," and Haynes's character as "a seductive Mexican girl." In a modern interview, associate producer and screenwriter Carl Foreman stated that the scenes with "Toby" were shot at the end of production, as insurance in case the film seemed too claustrophobic. The entire picture as released takes place only in the town of "Hadleyville." [According to a modern source, the extra sequences were deleted to help strengthen the film's use of "real time," in which the length of the story and the length of the film are approximately the same. After the picture's release, many reviewers praised its effective employment of real time.]
       HR news items from 1951 add the following actors to the cast: Marilee Phelps, Charles McAvoy, Gertrude Chorre, Lee Aaker, Duncan Richardson, Crane Whitley, Bob Carson, Charles Leon Soldari and George Deer. Their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. HR production charts and news items note that the film was shot at the Motion Picture Center and on location at the Columbia Ranch in Burbank and in Sonora, CA. In a modern interview, Kramer and director Fred Zinnemann stated that they originally intended to photograph the film in color, but after some color sequences where shot, they switched to black and white for artistic reasons. Lee Van Cleef and Eve McVeagh made their screen debuts in the picture.
       Many modern sources assert that High Noon 's plot and characters were a reflection of Foreman's experiences with the House Committee on Un-American Activities and his subsequent blacklisting in the Hollywood community. In an interview in Film History , however, Zinnemann stated that, to his knowledge, Foreman had no such aspirations, adding that "The politics...for me were non-existent, and I would believe that they were non-existent for Coop[er]." In the same interview, the director vehemently denied a persistent rumor that the editing of Elmo Williams and Harry Gerstad "saved" the picture. The film, which garnered excellent reviews and was listed as a "box-office champion" by MPH , received Academy Awards for Best Actor (Cooper), Best Song, Best Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture and Best Film Editing. The picture also received Oscar nominations for Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
       Other awards included Golden Globes for Best Actor in a Drama (Cooper), Best Supporting Actress (Jurado) and Best Black-and-White Cinematography; inclusion on the National Board of Review's list of the ten best films of the year; Best Film and Best Direction awards from the New York Film Critics; and the Best-Written American Drama award from the Writer's Guild of America. The film's ballad, "High Noon," was a huge hit both for Tex Ritter, whose singing is heard throughout the picture, and for Frankie Laine. In 1980, CBS televised High Noon, Part II: The Return of Will Kane , a made-for-television sequel that was directed by Jerry Jameson and starred Lee Majors in the title role. On 20 Aug 2000, TBS produced High Noon, a television remake directed by Rod Hardy and starring Tom Skerritt and Susanna Thompson. High Noon was ranked 27th on AFI's 2007 100 Years…100 Movies--10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, moving up from the 33rd position it held on AFI's 1997 list. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   10 May 1952.   
Daily Variety   30 Apr 52   p. 3, 7
The Exhibitor   7 May 52   p. 3291.
Film Daily   30 Apr 52   p. 6.
Film History   2000   Vol. 12, No. 1.
Harrison's Reports   3 May 52   p. 70.
Hollywood Citizen-News   10 Jan 1953.   
Hollywood Reporter   6 Jul 48   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Apr 49   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jul 51   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jul 51   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Aug 51   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Aug 51   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Aug 51   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Sep 51   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Sep 51   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Sep 51   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Sep 51   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   13 Sep 51   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   14 Sep 51   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Sep 51   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Sep 51   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   3 Oct 51   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Oct 51   p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Oct 51   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Apr 52   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jul 52   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Jul 52   p. 2.
Los Angeles Times   12 Mar 1949.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   3 May 52   p. 1349.
New York Times   10 Apr 1949.   
New York Times   25 Jul 52   p. 14.
New York Times   3 Aug 1952.   
Variety   30 Apr 52   p. 6.

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