Reelviews #6: High Noon

Kane must go

The rule of law, not of men!

In “High Noon”, of 1952, Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) is unexpectedly called to account for his sins. Kane learns that the Governor has freed a man whom he and the town judge had conspired to sentence to death. Furthermore, this man, Frank Miller (Ian McDonald), plans to return to town to seek justice. When Kane attempts to rally the town to his side, he finds that times have changed — the town is no longer willing to support his lawless thuggery, and demands that a new Marshal take charge of the dispute between Kane and Miller. (In a nice bit of storytelling, the root of the enmity between Kane and Miller is subtly brought out as Kane goes about town: Kane wanted Miller’s woman (Katy Jurado), and so Miller had to go.) The shocking violence of the denouement, in which Kane murders Miller in the street while the town does nothing, presages the revisionist Westerns of some 15 years later.

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