(Originally published in Rocky Mountain Bullhorn)
With exhaustion, disgust, and resignation pouring out of his face like the sweat dripping from his brow, Gary Cooper’s Marshal Will Kane stands alone against a band of killers and a town of craven cretins in Fred Zinneman’s iconic High Noon. When word arrives that dastardly killer Frank Miller has been pardoned from jail and is headed home to settle the score with the sheriff who put him away, Kane – just betrothed to a peace-loving Quaker (Grace Kelly) – chooses to stay and fight despite being abandoned by the selfish, greedy, and spineless townspeople. A parable about the collaborative cowardice of those who rallied behind the Cold War-era House of Un-American Activities Committee, Zinneman’s Oscar-winning allegorical Western is a simple, somewhat creaky tribute to defiant courageousness. Yet in the tortured close-ups of Kane, his fatigued countenance wracked with fear and resentment, High Noon forcefully conveys the doubt and anxiety that colors true heroism.