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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

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