Director: Fred Zinnemann
Running time: 90 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): U
USA Release date: 30th July 1952
Watched on Sky+ Saturday 13th August 2011.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
I have seen this film a couple of times before, in my youth. Both times I didn’t rate it much, if I was going to watch a Western, I wanted lots of gunfights and in this film there’s only one. Having matured slightly… (Ok, a lot), and on several recommendations, I decided to give it another go. In the intervening time I did see, and like, a remake of this called Outland (1981) starring Sean Connery. But back to the original, I must admit I liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Yes, it is dated, but it’s still a great piece of storytelling; it’s about a man prepared to do the right thing despite the odds stacked against him. I will give my thoughts after this brief summary.
Marshal Will Kane is getting married to his new bride, Amy, but even as the ceremony is taking place three men ride into town. These are bad men, men who ran with Frank Miller, a psychopath who Kane had put away several years earlier. For some reason, he has been pardoned and is due to arrive on the noon train. It’s obvious to Kane that he has come for his revenge. He cannot arrest the men who have come to meet Miller, who include; Jack Colby and Frank’s brother, Ben, as they have not committed any crime. In trying to raise a posse, Kane, surprisingly, meets a lot of resistance, even his deputy, Harvey Pell, is unwilling to face Miller. And even Kane’s wife, a Quaker, is against him facing Miller but Kane is determined to see it through. As the clock ticks down to noon will he find an ally in a town that seems to have forgotten who cleaned up the streets and made it a fit place to live? Well it would be a major spoiler if I told you here and them Spoiler Police would throw me in Jail for 30 days.
Even though it’s in black and white, and in a 4:3 ratio, I still found this film very watchable. It’s quite a compelling story and you really feel for the character of Will Kane. This is partly down to a great script and a really good performance from Gary Cooper as Kane. Also worthy of note were; Lloyd Bridges as the ambitious Deputy Marshal Harvey Pell, Katy Jurado as Helen Ramírez, Grace Kelly as Amy Fowler Kane, Lon Chaney Jr. as Martin Howe, Harry Morgan as Sam Fuller, Ian MacDonald as Frank Miller and not forgetting, in his first ever big screen role, Lee Van Cleef as Jack Colby.
Told in real time, it’s quite an interesting and enthralling film. I found the excuses people came up with were beginning to wear a bit thin by the time Kane got to the church though. The constant refrain of the song by Dimitri Tiomkin I found an interesting hook and now I’ll always associate the refrain “Do not forsake me oh my darling” with this film. Also the device of the clock, in almost every scene before the train arrives, there’s a clock, reminding the audience that time is getting short. Over all, it’s a really well made drama with some really good performances. I certainly enjoyed it a lot more than I expected… Recommended.
IMDb Score: 8.3/10 (39,425 votes when this review was written).
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96/100 (46 reviews counted when this review was written).