American and un-American: High Noon High Noon is a little black-and-white film that was shot quickly and cheaply by a group of people who were facing career changes and/or political pressure in the uncertain environment of the early 1950s. The film’s star, Gary Cooper, was tired and played out and had not acted in a good film for at least five years. The director, Fred Zinnemann, had not yet made a name for himself. The film’s screenwriter, Carl Foreman, was under fire from the House Committee on Un-American Activities for alleged Communist-related activities in a time when the word “red” equaled traitor. But for a country harboring growing fears about a possible atomic war and the ongoing Korean War, High Noon struck a chord. Its hero was an aging marshal who found himself alone and afraid and asking for help, which wasn’t forthcoming, in the face of four killers arriving in town.
Glenn Frankel captures the times in which the Western was made in 1951 in his 2017 book High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic (Bloomsbury USA). At 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 9, he discusses the film at the Gerald Peters Gallery (1005 Paseo de Peralta) in a free event. At 4 p.m., Frankel will introduce a screening of High Noon at the Jean Cocteau Cinema (418 Montezuma Ave., 505-466-5528) during a Q&A session moderated by Emmy-winning producer and screenwriter Kirk Ellis. — Robert Nott
Gary Cooper in High Noon