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Posts Tagged ‘John Wayne’

High Noon (1952)

High Noon is remarkable. Shot almost in real time within the events of the film, Gary Cooper’s sheriff searches high and low within his community for anyone who will stand and fight against men who threaten the safety of his town. Each scene is superb with one person after another citing reason or excuse why they will be unable to help in the standoff.

Personally, even more remarkable than the performances was the fact I never knew the outcome of the film. In my mind I was certain Cooper’s sheriff would be killed at the end of the film. For some reason I had the notion that this film was unique showing the death of a main character, highlighting the valiance of standing up for what is right even in the face of overwhelming odds. On the other hand this was a Hollywood picture and Gary Cooper with his star status would probably not be killed off. As a result of these opposing ideas, I was actually rooting for the survival of the main character at the end of the film. It has been some time since a film did a strong enough job of keeping the outcome of a character a mystery right up to the end.

The editing is kept pretty tight with mostly medium and close-up shots. However, as Cooper goes to face off against the gang the camera zooms out on a crane to reveal the desolate of the town and the main character. It is a very brief, but very beautiful shot.

Similar to Stagecoach, High Noon is a remarkable western and classic in the genre. In addition it has the added caveat of being one of the more hated films at the time by many in the industry. John Wayne for instance felt he had never seen a more un-american film. This criticism stems from buzz surrounding the film’s main theme of a sheriff standing up against many, were a kin to those in the media industry who resisted HUAC and were ultimately blacklisted. Another interesting layer to a fantastic film.

Rating: 5/5

Until next time, Cheers!

Stagecoach (1939)

Stagecoach is considered the film where John Wayne became not just a leading man, but a movie star. Director John Ford does an excellent job of supporting Wayne in this venture. With the great name of Ringo, John Wayne is magnetic every time he is on-screen. One of the more iconic shots is the characters introduction on-screen through a quick zoom close-up of Wayne as he turns towards the camera.

Like many of Ford’s westerns this film captures the open plains and vistas of country life in the states with beauty. In addition the main action set-piece between the passengers of the stagecoach and local indian tribes, is still thrilling seventy years later. The quick editing between widescreen location shots and close-up shots, done in studio, with the passengers heightens the tension of the scene.

There are some slow portions of the film, mainly when the characters take breaks from their journey or ponder about what is to come. However, anytime the cast is on the road a sense of danger looms and each character increasingly realizes the stakes of this journey. Overall a great film and strong advancement of the western genre.

Ranking: 4/5

Until next time, Cheers!