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High Noon: Olive Signature Blu-ray Review

High Noon (1952) movie poster High Noon

Theatrical Release: July 30, 1952 / Running Time: 85 Minutes / Rating: Not Rated

Director: Fred Zinnemann / Writers: Carl Foreman (screenplay); John W. Cunningham (magazine story "The Tin Star")

Cast: Gary Cooper (Marshal Will Kane), Thomas Mitchell (Mayor Jonas Henderson), Lloyd Bridges (Deputy Marshal Harvey Pell), Katy Jurado (Helen Ramνrez), Grace Kelly (Amy Fowler Kane), Otto Kruger (Judge Percy Mettrick), Lon Chaney Jr. (Martin Howe), Harry Morgan (Sam Fuller), Ian MacDonald (Frank Miller), Eve McVeagh (Mildred Fuller), Morgan Farley (Dr. Mahin - Minister), Harry Shannon (Cooper), Lee Van Cleef (Jack Colby), Robert J. Wilke (Jim Pierce), Sheb Wooley (Ben Miller)

Buy High Noon from Amazon.com: Olive Signature Blu-ray • Olive Signature DVD • Instant Video

The impact a film has is initially judged by box office receipts and awards. Fast-forward a few decades, though, and those facts and figures matter less than public familiarity. Take 1952, for example. The top-grossing film of the year by a large margin was The Greatest Show on Earth, Cecil B. DeMille's dramatization of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.
It won the Oscar for Best Picture, but time has not judged it well. Many consider it among the weaker Best Picture winners and eight other films from the same year have attracted more votes on IMDb, where each is also in possession of a significantly more favorable average user rating. Singin' in the Rain finished fifth at the box office and wasn't even nominated for Best Picture, but that widely beloved musical has long since stood as the best-known and highest-regarded film of '52.

Not far from Singin' in reputation and renown is High Noon, a taut western that finished outside the yearly top 10 commercially, but did win four Oscars from seven nominations, most significantly Best Actor in a Leading Role for longtime matinee icon Gary Cooper. High Noon has secured classic status by every standard out there, from being chosen for preservation in the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in its introductory year to finishing in the top third of both American Film Institute Top 100 countdowns (and featuring in every other one of the organization's applicable lists).

High Noon's latest honor comes this week, when it becomes one of two titles to launch Olive Films' new Olive Signature collection of "cult favorites, time-honored classics, and under-appreciated gems." There is no doubt as to which of those three classes High Noon belongs. What is a tad surprising is that little Olive Films is the company that first brought the movie to Blu-ray back in 2012's 60th Anniversary Edition and again does so here, even with logos indicating that this esteemed film, originally released by United Artists, belongs to the library of Paramount Home Entertainment. Paramount has shown little interest in bringing their catalog titles to Blu-ray, letting Warner Bros. Home Entertainment release a lot of their holdings with little fanfare over the past several years.

Hadleyville's outgoing Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) interrupts a church service in search of special deputies.

Adapted from John W. Cunningham's short story "The Tin Star", High Noon plays out in close to real time. Will Kane (Cooper), the longtime marshal of the small New Mexico town of Hadleyville, has just married a young Quaker woman named Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly, in her second film). Will is to turn in his badge, as the couple moves to a new town to start a new life. But news reaches town that the vicious outlaw Frank Miller has been released from jail and is returning to Hadleyville to exact revenge on the marshal who put him away.
Miller has three fear-instilling associates (including future spaghetti western icon Lee Van Cleef in his film debut) on his side waiting for his arrival on the noon train.

Kane, who delays retirement for another day to the dismay of his bride, tries to find anyone to join his side as a special deputy. But his actual deputy (Lloyd Bridges) turns in his badge. And everyone else he turns to either turns him down or dodges him. Turns out not everyone in Hadleyville is happy that Kane cleaned up the town as the outlaws were good for business.

After over 70 minutes of build-up, the inevitable showdown ensues with Kane all by himself against four armed criminals.

The new life awaiting newlyweds Will Kane (Gary Cooper) and Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly) will have to wait another day. Deputy Marshal Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges) picked the wrong day to try negotiating for a promotion.

High Noon is all about economy. The story is thin and, until the final minutes, the action is non-existent. The movie uses its time to establish characters and relationships as well as to build anticipation and suspense for the only climax it can serve. High Noon couldn't be made today, not merely because the western has long since fallen out of style as a genre. To stand out today, movies need flash and noise, two things that this one lacks. It's a small and genuinely quiet film, where the hero is all by his lonesome and too stubborn/resolute to take the safe way out and leave town with his new wife.

But High Noon came at the moment it needed to, made a huge impression on people, and continues to be enjoyed and recommended. It doesn't have the impact or technical virtue of the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns that were to come in the late 1960s, but it's a compelling piece of cinema nonetheless that has stood the test of time quite well for over sixty years.

High Noon: The Criterion Collection Blu-ray Disc cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

1.37:1 Original Aspect Ratio
2.0 DTS-HD MA Mono (English)
Subtitles: English
Extras Not Subtitled; Not Closed Captioned
Suggested Retail Price: $39.95
Release Date: September 18, 2016
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Clear Keepcase with Side Snap in Cardboard Box
Also available on DVD ($34.95 SRP)
Previously released as 60th Anniversary Blu-ray and DVD (July 17, 2012), 2-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD (June 10, 2008), Collector's Edition DVD (October 22, 2002), and DVD (July 1, 1998)

VIDEO and AUDIO

Olive wasn't kidding when they promised big things from this new Olive Signature line. High Noon looks nothing short of stunning in the Blu-ray's 1.37:1 original aspect ratio presentation that is mastered from a new 4k restoration. The black and white image is spotless and extremely well defined throughout. The fine picture is complemented by impressively clear sound, which presents the original monaural mix as 2.0 DTS-HD master audio.

Editor Mark Goldblatt discusses the Oscar-winning editing of "High Noon" in "A Ticking Clock." A behind-the-scenes photo shows the making of "High Noon" in "A Stanley Kramer Production."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The all-HD on-disc extras begin with "A Ticking Clock" (5:53) in which Oscar-nominated editor Mark Goldblatt (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) comments on the film's use of that craft, the source of one of its four Oscar wins.

Next, "A Stanley Kramer Production" (14:00) lets filmmaker and film historian Michael Schlesinger discuss the film within the context of the producer's storied career. The biggest revelation is that it was Kramer who scaled back use of the Oscar-winning original song "Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'", whose pervasive nature originally drew laughs at early screenings.

Blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein reflects on his experiences in the industry. A letter in "Oscars and Ulcers" shows some concerns raised regarding the depictions in the "High Noon" script.

"Imitation of Life: The Hollywood Blacklist and High Noon" (9:27) lets both historian/professor Larry Ceplair and blacklisted screenwriter Walter Bernstein reflect on the issue that affected the industry back in the '50s with filmmakers asked to name names for the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). It's a little dry, even if it applies directly to High Noon writer Carl Foreman, who was blacklisted shortly after the film's release.

Narrated -- of all people -- by the late young Anton Yelchin, "Oscars and Ulcers: The Production History of High Noon" (12:02) delivers a wealth of information regarding the film's making, which is complemented by well-chosen photos.

Nick James' essay "Uncitizened Kane" is presented both on disc and in booklet form. High Noon's original theatrical trailer piles on the exclamatives!

Presented over the course of ten still pages,
"Uncitizened Kane" is an original essay by Sight & Sound editor Nick James that supplies a mix of production information and scholarly analysis.

The on-disc extras conclude with High Noon's rough-looking original theatrical trailer (1:36).

But wait, there's more. The side-snapped clear keepcase slides into a box with an open right side. Illustrated on both sides, the keepcase also holds a booklet and not the one advertising Olive Films' catalog. This 8-page, staple-bound companion presents Nick James' "Uncitizened Kane" on four pages, along with assorted stills. You'd appreciate it more had the same essay not been on the disc, but either way it's a reasonably interesting read.

The static silent menu adapts the cover art.

Marshal Will Kane (Gary Cooper) is all by himself awaiting an outlaw's return to town at/in "High Noon."

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Olive Films seems to take a page from the Criterion playbook with its fine Olive Signature Blu-ray rerelease of High Noon. This heralded western gets treated to first-rate picture and sound plus a solid assembly of virtually all-new bonus features. Without having examined the film's every edition to date, I can only assume this represents the best High Noon has gotten. If it's a film you want in your Blu-ray collection, this satisfying disc now seems like the easiest and most worthwhile to acquire.

Buy High Noon from Amazon.com: Olive Signature Blu-ray / Olive Signature DVD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Gary Cooper: Wings | Grace Kelly: To Catch a Thief | Lloyd Bridges: Airplane!
Thomas Mitchell: Stagecoach • It's a Wonderful Life | Directed by Fred Zinnemann: From Here to Eternity
Westerns: Once Upon a Time in the West • 3:10 to Yuma • For a Few Dollars More • The Grand Duel
1950s on Blu-ray: On the Waterfront • Hondo • The Killing • Riot in Cell Block 11

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Reviewed September 19, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 1952 United Artists, Stanley Kramer Productions, and 2016 Olive Films and Paramount Pictures.
Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.