A bonafide movie star for over thirty years of his working life, Gary Cooper is considered by many film historians to one of the more iconic movie stars of all time. Fans loved him because they felt they could relate to him. As fellow film legend Clint Eastwood said of Cooper in the 1991 documentary, Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend, “[we] saw in his face the face of all America.”

Perhaps it was the all American, everyman quality that convinced producer’s Stanley Kramer and Fred Zimmerman to cast Cooper in High Noon’s lead role of Marshal Will Kane, even though his recent films hadn’t fared very well at the box office. At nearly fifty years old, Cooper looked considerably older; especially when compared to his co-star, twenty-two-year-old, Grace Kelly. As it turned out, the filmmakers made a wise choice. Gary Cooper won his second Oscar for his portrayal of Will Kane and High Noon has achieved legendary status, reportedly it’s the most requested film by sitting Presidents in the White House.

At just after 10:30 on a Sunday morning, three gunmen ride through a small Western town and roost at the train station to wait for the noon train. As they pass, Marshal Will Kane (Cooper) is marrying Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), a Quaker whose unflappable belief in nonviolence means the sheriff will be surrendering his badge and leaving town that very day. Only, fate has other plans. As it turns out, the trio of men at the train station is the gang of Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), a killer whom Kane sent to jail several years before and has now unexpectedly been pardoned. Realizing that Miller is coming to kill him, Kane decides he must stand his ground and fight or forever be looking over his shoulder. Everyone else in town, including Amy, thinks he should leave, but Kane isn’t the type of guy to take the easy way out; he doesn’t do things because they are easy, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Set in real time, High Noon unfolds in an undeniably dramatic fashion. Kane is a respected man in his community, a person who brought his small town to prominence. With those credentials, it would seem easy for him to recruit four men to help him face off against these would-be marauders. As time screams by, he finds that there are no takers. The judge is leaving. His deputies hide behind their families or personal inadequacies. Appeals to the parishioners at the town church and the saloon go unanswered. After all, if Kane leaves, the threat goes away Isn’t this Kane’s mess?

Made in 1952 at the height of McCarthyism, the films questioning of the notion of heroism and love of country being a throwaway virtue was a risky one. Several members of the cast and crew, actor Lloyd Bridges and screenwriter Carl Foreman were facing blacklisting in Hollywood because of the Red Scare but proceeded with the project anyway. All involved with the making of High Noon were very smart in their approach to the project: The message is still timely, but High Noon’s packaging gives it bite. It looks like a conventional western, but message of morality makes it a classic. Multi-layered and full of a rich cast of characters, High Noon manages to touch on race, religion, social and one’s sense of self.

Even without considering its complex messages and themes, High Noon is a great film to watch. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen it, yet I never tire of it. Aside from his portrayal of Lou Gehrig in 1939’s Pride of the Yankees, Gary Cooper has never been better. The everyman quality that was associated with the actor throughout his career really comes to the fore in his portrayal of Will Kane. One gets the sense the role wasn’t much of a stretch for Cooper, rather a heroic extension of his loyal, laid back personality. As Kane, he wears his emotions on his face, in his body; his confidence slowly deteriorates even as he shores up his resolve.

While High Noon is clearly Gary Cooper’s picture, praise must be given to the fine supporting performances of Lon Chaney Jr. and Katy Jurado. So too, Tex Ritter, whose song “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin’,” follows Kane around like a melancholy cloud.

Such a fine film wouldn’t be complete without a climatic ending, and High Noon provides a legendary one. The shoot-out will not disappoint, and the very last shot of the movie drives the message home with quiet force.

Presented in the 1.33:1 and advertised as being a “Brand NEW HDR/Dolby Vision Master – From a 4K Scan of the 35mm Original Camera Negative,” the resulting transfer is immaculate. Grain is pleasing throughout. Sharpness is a noticeable improvement over previous Blu-ray releases. The use of HDR results in a wonderful image. There are no inconsistencies in evidence. This is by far, the best way to watch High Noon to date.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0. track is decent. I didn’t notice any pops or other audio anomalies. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout. Dimitri Tiomkin’s music is a somewhat thin at times.

English SDH subtitles are available.

The following extras are included:


  • NEW!! Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Alan K. Rode
  • NEW!! Audio Commentary by Film Historian/Writer Julie Kirgo


  • NEW!! Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Alan K. Rode
  • NEW!! Audio Commentary by Film Historian/Writer Julie Kirgo
  • A Ticking Clock: Featurette (5:54)
  • A Stanley Kramer Production: Featurette (14:01)
  • Imitation of Life – The Blacklist History of High Noon: Featurette (9:27)
  • Ulcers and Oscars – The Production History of High Noon: Featurette (12:03)
  • Uncitizened Kane: text screens (11:01)
  • The Making of High Noon: Featurette (22:11)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:37)
High Noon (1952)
4.6 Reviewer