Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Pantheon Western

While High Noon is readily acknowledged as a deserved entry in the Western pantheon, it is usually celebrated for it’s wry political subtext as the ultimate blacklist commentary, without the proper credit going to helmsman Fred Zinneman and his crafting of an extremely lean and austere genre piece. The film equally rests squarely on the stooped shoulders and iconic, hangdog visage of Gary Cooper, an always-spare actor almost gone kabuki in this exquisitely plotted and paced six-gun showdown. Cooper brings a square-jawed man-of-the-west back story to the role that probably couldn’t have been matched by even the likes of Henry Fonda or Gregory Peck, and his minimalist brand of untamed stoicism brands the core of the film like a the last red hot coal left in the campfire. The highlights of High Noon: Ultimate Collectors Edition (1952, Lionsgate, $19.99, 85 minutes, 2 discs)are purty much the same as the last special release in 2002, with most of the commentary devoted to the central political metaphor and not enough spent on the well-oiled and highly effective filmmaking technique the film so ably demonstrates.

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