High Noon (1952)

Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his role as Marshal Will Kane, forced to stand alone when an outlaw he put away returns from prison.

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“Meaningful in its implications, as well as loaded with interest and suspense, High Noon is a western to challenge Stagecoach for the all-time championship.”

Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1952

Gary Cooper is the perfect rough-hewn vessel to contain the conflicts between love and duty that face Marshal Will Kane when the morning of his wedding (to Grace Kelly’s Amy) coincides with the return of outlaw Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), out of jail and looking for vengeance. With the local townspeople too scared to back their marshal up, the showdown pits more than a good man against a bad one – at stake is one man’s obligation to his community and his community’s to him.

Scripted by soon-to-be-blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman, Fred Zinnemann’s film was widely interpreted as Hollywood’s reply to McCarthyite intimidation during the early-1950s communist witch hunts.

Right-winger John Wayne answered what he perceived as the un-American act of a marshal asking for help by making Rio Bravo (directed by Howard Hawks) in 1959.

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