High Noon Blu-ray Review

"They're making me run. I've never run from anybody before."

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

19

Unmissable
High Noon Blu-ray Review
SRP: £19.99

High Noon Film Review

Fred Zinnemann's 1952 Gary Cooper western High Noon is an all-time classic.

Surprisingly topical in the current climate, High Noon's allegory for McCarthyism was a direct result of the fact that screenwriter Carl Foreman himself was blacklisted at the time, eventually forced into self-imposed exile in the UK after refusing to 'identify suspected communists' and suffering commensurate guilt by association (ironically, John Wayne, who had rejected the lead role, was a vocal proponent of blacklisting and was reportedly proud to have "run Foreman out of the country", making him arguably a more appropriate candidate for one of the villains in the story). It was clearly a dark period in US history, although this situation could still have some relevance today; then the US was still reeling from a World War, with its populace clearly unified against perceived 'outsiders' (at the time: communists/liberals and Jews), but that arguably hasn't changed all that much.

Director Fred Zinnemann - who would later revisit similar themes for what was a spiritual sequel of sorts in A Man for All Seasons - embraced the now-iconic set-up, perfectly casting Gary Cooper in the lead (still recovering from surgery, adding some genuine pain to the stunts and fights he performed himself) and turning in an all-time classic which would be frequently copied (rival director Howard Hawks teamed up with Wayne for Rio Bravo due to the perception that this film was too 'un-American') and remade (Peter Hyams' 1981 sci-fi Outland, starring Sean Connery, did a great job re-telling the story in a strikingly different setting).

Giving audiences an almost 24-esque real-time 85 minutes of tension

The story saw Cooper's newly-married and newly-retired Marshal, Will Kane, receive news that a murderer that he sent to be tried and executed had somehow been released, and was coming to town with a group of his best gunslingers to kill him. Initially persuaded to run, he decides that he has to make a stand, defying the wishes of his wife and his friends, and then soon finding that not a single soul in the town is prepared to stand up beside him, leaving him to face the deadly bandits alone.

High Noon introduced a whole number of future stars into the bargain. It marked the debut of Lee Van Cleef as one of the killers, the second starring role for a very young Grace Kelly, and a young Lloyd Bridges as the new Marshal, who refuses to stand up (somewhat ironically given that Bridges was briefly blacklisted himself before getting the role, but was pardoned after cooperating as a 'witness', unlike Foreman who refused to be a witness). Nonetheless, Gary Cooper owned the film, and the role, becoming the epitome of strength, fortitude, and moral upstanding (again, ironically, given that his close friend John Wayne would regard this role as showing anything but these qualities, but would thankfully swallow his pride to receive Cooper's much-deserved Best Actor Oscar on his behalf), and giving audiences an almost 24-esque real-time 85 minutes of tension as he waits for the killers to arrive and is slowly but surely abandoned by everybody he knows. It's a tremendous classic, perfectly cast and acted; shot and paced, and made all the more resonant given its social relevance both at the time, and now.

High Noon Blu-ray Picture

High Noon
Eureka Entertainment brings High Noon to UK Blu-ray as part of their Masters of Cinema line, affording it a stunning 4K remastered 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation framed in the movie's original academy aspect ratio of 1.37:1.

The treatment this classic deserved

67 years on and High Noon has undoubtedly never looked this spectacular, cleaned up to be almost devoid of print damage, dirt, scratches or other issues, and yet boasting a wonderfully rich layer of grain which gives the movie a superb filmic look. Detail is still strong beneath this, and better than ever, revelling in the creases in suits, or the flourishes of finery, whilst the background textures of the town setting spring to life. The black and white cinematography is superbly realised, with perfect contrast and rich, deep blacks cast against a full range of greyscale with some strong peak whites too. It's the treatment this classic deserved.

High Noon Blu-ray Sound

High Noon
The accompanying Lossless Linear PCM Mono 2.0 track is also impressive in its own right, similarly cleaned up and perfectly balanced to avoid any signs of tinniness at the high end, drop-outs or pops.

Easily the best the film has ever sounded

Despite the inherent limitations of mono, it's a wonderfully natural accompaniment, remaining faithful to the original design of the soundscape, and presenting the key elements of dialogue, score and effects perfectly, with some nice weight to it. It's hardly going to be used for demo purposes, but it's also easily the best the film has ever sounded.

High Noon Blu-ray Extras

High Noon
Eureka completes this excellent package with a superb set of extra features, headlined by two brand new Audio Commentary tracks, the first with film historian Glenn Frankel, and the second with film critic Stephen Prince. We also get a new video Interview with critic Neil Sinyard, who wrote a book about Zinnemann.

Eureka completes this excellent package with a superb set of extra features

There are a number of nice archival pieces, including a 2002 Retrospective Featurette, a 1992 Production Featurette, and the near hour-long Inside High Noon Documentary. There's also an archival Interview with Carl Foreman and the set is rounded out by the original Trailer.

High Noon Blu-ray Verdict

10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

High Noon Blu-ray Review

High Noon
It's a tremendous classic, perfectly cast, acted, shot and paced, and made all the more resonant given its social relevance both at the time, and now

High Noon gets the deluxe treatment courtesy of Eureka Entertainment's tremendous Masters of Cinema label, with stunning 4K-remastered video, a strong audio track, and a fabulous selection of extra features, leaving it an absolute must-have purchase.

Unmissable

Scores

Movie

10

Picture Quality

10

Sound Quality

.
9

Extras

.
9

Overall

10
10
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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