Surely you know: Marshal Will Kane, newly married, newly retired from office, and about to ride off to a new life, learns that his sworn enemy is out of prison and returning on the noon train to kill him. Kane and his bride--a Quaker who rejects violence--flee as the townsfolk urge. But Kane can't live with that and turns back--only to find himself deserted by both wife and community and left to face four deadly killers alone. That's the premise of High Noon
, a 1952 independent film and seminal "adult" Western that became an instant classic. It's also the plot of this 2000 made-for-TV movie, produced by the wife (now widow) of the man who produced the original, Stanley Kramer.
Is there any project more pointless than remaking a classic--especially one that's part of the national consciousness, not only a cinematic but also a moral and political touchstone? Director Rod Hardy has discouraged comparisons by eschewing almost everything that distinguished the original: the music, the theme song, the expressionistic camera angles and ticking clocks and metronomic cutting underscoring the real-time suspense. Enough of Carl Foreman's screenplay has been retained that he's credited as cowriter of the teleplay despite having died in 1984. But the urgency of that screenplay is missing--the underlying allegory of the conformism, betrayal, and fear of the blacklist that had the Hollywood community in a death grip. (Foreman himself was soon blacklisted.)
Tom Skerritt gets the marshal's dignity and exasperation but conveys none of the anguish and vulnerability that made Gary Cooper's heroism all the more moving. Otherwise the cast is a study in drabness: Susanna Thompson stiff and peevish in the Grace Kelly part, Reed Diamond a punk substitute for Lloyd Bridges as Kane's envious deputy, a cast of anonymous Canadians filling in blandly for a gallery of legendary character actors. Only Maria Conchita Alonso and Michael Madsen get within hailing distance of, respectively, Katy Jurado as Kane's former mistress and Ian MacDonald as the malevolent Frank Miller. --Richard T. Jameson
High Noon tellsthe story of a lawman named Will Kane (Skerritt) who has just married a young bride Amy (Thompson) and promises to leave his dangerous career and settle down for a quiet life. Just as they are about to leave word comes that a vicious killer Kane had sent to prison years earlier is coming to town on the noon train seeking vengeance. Kane attempts t orally the town to fight the gunman but even his former deputy Harvey (Diamond) is unwilling to help. Harvey's cowardice infuriates his girlfriend Helen (Alonso) whose romantic past with both Kane and with the arriving gunman convinces her to pack up and leave town. As the dreaded noon hour approaches Kane realizes he must stand alone and face the gunmen in this retelling of the four-time Academy Award® winner.System Requirements:Starring: Tom Skerritt Susana Thompson Reed Diamond and Maria Conchita Alonso Directed By: Rod Hardy Running Time: 93 minutes Color Presented in "Widescreen" formatFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: WESTERN/MISC. Rating: NR UPC: 012236118602 Manufacturer No: 11860