Is "High Noon" the Greatest Western ever made?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Crawford, Oct 19, 2002.

  1. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    After watching "High Noon" for the third time this week due to the new dvd release and making comparisons between this release and the previous dvd release, I think it's approriate to talk about "High Noon" again especially in comparison to other great westerns such as "The Searchers" and "Rio Bravo". For most of my life, I thought both, "The Searchers" and "Rio Bravo" were the best westerns ever made, but over the years "High Noon" has been climbing my personal opinion chart in comparison to those other two great films. Matter of fact, I'm ready to state something that I never thought would happen and that is "High Noon" is perhaps the best western ever made and in some regard bypasses "The Searchers" and "Rio Bravo". This is very strange for me to admit this because "The Searchers" has been and still is my favorite film of all-time, but after taking a very deep look into "High Noon" while watching a couple of features about the film as well as an audio commentary about the film, I came away with a more appreciative opinion about "High Noon" and it's place in cinematic history.
    I know others will want to challenge my assertion and perhaps debate the status of the three films I have mentioned in my post which is why I think this thread is an appropriate place for this discussion to occur. I have linked two other previous threads about westerns to read again for those willing to participate in this discussion.
    Howard Hawks: Rio Bravo
    The Searchers and Red River
    Crawdaddy
     
  2. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I'll only chime in briefly, since past experience tells me that my opinions about westerns piss off people.

    Of the four films you mentioned, I think High Noon is easily the best.

    Of all westerns, I think High Noon is the 5th best ever.

    Of all 'serious' westerns, I think it is the 4th best ever.

    Is the new version of Hign Noon better looking than the old one? I've read some reviews, but I haven't found any head to head comparisons.
     
  3. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    George,
    Why would people be pissed off for you having a different opinion? Also, name the westerns you feel are the best.

    Also, the newest dvd release is an improvement with the video presentation, but moreso with the audio.




    Crawdaddy
     
  4. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    It's funny that you compare the movie to "Rio Bravo" and also mention "Red River". Did you ever hear what Howard Hawks had to say about "High Noon"? He thought that it was complete garbage to paraphase him. "High Noon" was his primary reason for making "Rio Bravo". He called it the anti-"High Noon".

    I'm not completely in the Hawks' camp on this, but I can think of several Westerns that I enjoy more than "High Noon", primarily the ones that you already mentioned, but I also agree that "High Noon" is a great film.

    As a side note, I recently read or heard an interview with Roger Ebert, where he said the exact opposite of you. He said that he used to love "High Noon", but through additional screenings through the years, he has come to realize that it isn't a very good movie. I don't remember exactly what his reasons were for saying this.

    All in all, there's something about "High Noon" that doesn't totally agree with me, but I haven't seen it for a coule of years. I'll be picking up the new SE and watching it again and hopefully checking out the commentary and documentary. If this thread is still active, I'll chime back in with any additional thoughts.

    My personal faves in approximate order.
    1. The Searchers
    2. Rio Bravo
    3. Red River
    4. High Plains Drifter
    5. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    6. High Noon
    7. Winchester '75
    8. Bend of the River
    9. Tombstone
    10. Unforgiven
     
  5. Larry Sutliff

    Larry Sutliff Cinematographer

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    I think HIGH NOON is very near the top of the heap; the only other serious contender for best western IMHO is THE SEARCHERS. My top five Westerns would be:
    1.HIGH NOON
    2.THE SEARCHERS
    3.RIO BRAVO
    4.RED RIVER
    5.DODGE CITY(just good old fashioned fun; an underrated gem by Michael Curtiz)
     
  6. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    I'm well aware of Howard Hawks and John Wayne's opinion of "High Noon" which is why I connected "Rio Bravo" to this thread. I don't agree with them and I found it rather funny that it took them 7 years to make a rebuttal to a film that was released in 1952. Furthermore, I don't believe the filmmakers intended "High Noon" to be as entertaining as other westerns, but instead chose to make a film with deeper thought-provoking aspirations.




    Crawdaddy
     
  7. Andrew_Sch

    Andrew_Sch Cinematographer

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    Here's how I'd rank the Westerns I've seen:

    1. Unforgiven
    2. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance
    3. The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
    4. The Searchers
    5. High Noon
    6. High Plains Drifter

    And a bunch of others I can't remember at the moment.
     
  8. Jim_K

    Jim_K Executive Producer

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    Well to start off I'd consider myself a Western film buff.
    High Noon is a film that I respect much more than enjoy. It's one of a handful of deservedly called Classic films that for some reason I hold at a distance. I just don't connect with it on a personal level I guess.
    There's no doubt it's one of the most influential Western films ever made but I'd place a few other Westerns ahead of it on my greatest list.
    Such as:
    The Wild Bunch
    The Searchers
    Red River
    Once Upon a Time in the West
    The Good, Bad & Ugly
    Naked Spur
    Man of the West
    Unforgiven
    Man Who Shot Liberty Valence
    As for Rio Bravo - I certainly enjoy it more than High Noon but I don't consider it the better film.
     
  9. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    High Noon is one of the greatest westerns ever made, but I personally wouldn't put it at the top of the heap.
    The general consensus among critics and film buffs is that John Ford's The Searchers is the greatest western ever, sort of the Citizen Kane of this genre.
    Both are great westerns, and I like both films a lot, but in my opinion the best western ever made is not even American, I know that may be blasphemous, but I would put Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West as the greatest western of them all, with The Good The Bad and the Ugly up in the top five too.
    Of American westerns, I would pick Red River as best Black and White western ever and Rio Bravo as best color western, I think in this particular genre B/W or Color does make a huge difference in the style and mood of the film.
    My Darling Clementine would be my 2nd choice for best B/W western.
    "The most un-American thing I have ever seen!"
    John Wayne on 'High Noon'.
     
  10. Thi Them

    Thi Them Producer

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    Once Upon a Time in the West is at the top my list, followed by High Noon. Then Rio Bravo would be the second best color and Red River would be the second best B&W.

    Did anyone else see the PBS Documentary called Darkness at High Noon that aired a month or two ago?

    ~T
     
  11. michael deakin

    michael deakin Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi guys.
    Im surprised nobody's mentioned.

    THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES or
    JEREMIAH JOHNSON or
    TRUE GRIT or
    THE SHOOTIST.
    mike
     
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Though, I appreciate both Leone's films as fine westerns, I always thought they were a little overrated. The western feel for both films just wasn't right enough for me to consider them as being the best of that genre. At the same time, I can respect those that feel High Noon, Red River, Rio Bravo, and The Seachers are overrated, I guess it's a matter of personal taste and acceptance.




    Crawdaddy
     
  13. michael deakin

    michael deakin Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry guys i forget to mention.

    "SHENANDOAH"
    mike
     
  14. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    Robert Crawford said:
     
  15. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    BTW, I still have yet to see My Darling Clementine, How The West Was Won, and Once Upon A Time in the West.
     
  16. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

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    Here's my Top Five Westerns:

    1. The Searchers
    2. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
    3. Unforgiven
    4. Rio Bravo
    5. High Noon

    I think that THE SEARCHERS is the epitome of what a western on film is, and should be. In my opinion the best western of all time has to be one with indians in it.
     
  17. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Now, you're really opening a can of worms for a western film debate.[​IMG]
     
  18. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    As an aside, I attended a private 16mm screening of High Noon and Stagecoach at a person's house back in the mid-'70s. Both were excellent prints. Wonderful experience. (Sorry for hijacking, CD!)
     
  19. Todd Terwilliger

    Todd Terwilliger Screenwriter

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    No fans of Shane?
    High Noon definitely ranks among the top westerns.
     
  20. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    I think High Noon, like many movies, gets some of its praise due to its subject matter, or what it's about.
    Sort of like how Dances With Wolves might be seen by some as a better film than Goodfellas (ah, that old debate) since its subject matter is deemed more "important." Yes, it's a great film, but not for the reasons they think it is.
    I think High Noon IS a great film, but no, not the greatest western ever. Gary Cooper is terrific; it's one of his best performances. His fear is as palpable as his resolve, and he accomplishes this pretty much using his eyes and his mannerisms. It's also elegant in its simplicity; there's not a lot of fat to be trimmed. Rather than, say, showing the bad guys imminent approach, firing shots into the air, and terrorizing everything in their path (or some such thing), Zinneman just keeps showing shots of the railroad tracks and the clock.
    It's as easy to look back 50 years and call a movie like High Noon "quaint" as it is to look back and smirk at John Wayne's ridiculous reaction to it. But there is a lot of subtext to this movie, it's as subversive in its own way (and for its own time) as something like The Wild Bunch would be almost 20 years later.
     

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