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HTF REVIEW: "High Noon" 50th Anniversary DVD (with screenshots)


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#1 of 28 OFFLINE   Ronald Epstein

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Posted October 15 2002 - 12:30 AM

Posted Image

High Noon
50th Anniversary DVD







Studio: Artisan
Year: 1952
Rated: NR
Film Length: 85 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: None



The story of a man who was too proud to run


For years I had wanted to see High Noon.
I think I was first exposed to the story via an
episode of the original Star Trek series where
the crew is thrown into an old western town where
at the clock stroke of twelve, a gunfight would
ensue at the OK Corral. When I heard where the
inspiration to that story came from, I was eager
to watch the original.

I was pleased to learn that High Noon was
amongst a crop of new titles that were receiving
a makeover by Artisan Home Entertainment. Last
night was a very exciting evening for me, as this
was the first time I was going to watch what many
consider to be the best western movie ever made.

Posted ImagePosted Image

As High Noon begins, it's a little after 10 o'clock
in the morning as we enter Hadleyville, a small,
dusty town in New Mexico. Will Kane (Gary Cooper)
is its much-respected marshal, who has just retired in
order to settle down and live happily ever after
with Amy (played by Grace Kelly), beautiful Quaker
girl. Moments after his marriage, however, Kane gets
word that a killer he put away, is out of prison
and arriving on the noon train to exact revenge.

Posted Image Posted Image

At first, Kane decides to take his new wife and
run. However, to the surprise of the townsfolk, he
decides to stay, knowing his responsibility to the
town he helped build and the fact that wherever he
ended up running to, he would only be hunted down.
But, while the clock is ticking, Kane realizes he
is not going to get help from his fellow town
citizens and friends. Everyone has an excuse for
not helping out. As the moment of truth approaches,
Kane realizes that he is on his own to face four
gunfighters.

The theme of High Noon is of loyalty and
betrayal. Here is a man of law who has helped
build his town and protect his citizens. When
trouble arises that threatens his own life, he
stands his ground. Although the citizens of the
town feel they owe their prosperity to Kane, they
will not help him because they believe his cause
to be hopeless. Some of them even welcome the
arrival of the noon gunslinger.

Posted ImagePosted Image

I absolutely loved High Noon. Watching this
film 50 years later seemed a like totally new and
fresh experience. The film had all the elements of
a great western: the gun-toting bad guys, the moral
lawman, the pretty girl, and the climactic gunfight.
All of these elements are cleverly played out in
'real time' with an emphasis on ticking clocks
that inch nearer to the noon hour, building up
the suspense and tension of the inevitable gunfight.

Let me take a moment once again to strongly
protest the fact that Artisan does not include
English subtitles on their DVDs. While there is
closed captioning here, that option often becomes
obstructive to the viewing experience. How much
pressure must we continually give the studio before
they include subtitles in their releases?


How is the transfer?


I am afraid that my inexperience of not having
seen this film on any format previously is going
to possibly hinder my judgement of this transfer.
Let me just come out and give you my impressions
of what I have seen...

The good news here is that this is one of the
most razor-sharp B&W transfers that I have seen
on DVD. It is quite apparent that the picture has
gone through extensive digital cleanup. It's just
amazing to see how detailed the picture is. One
look at Cooper's black vest, suit and hat will
tell show you just how deeply the blacks are
represented here. What appears to be missing here
is all the dirt and blemishes one would expect
from a film of this period. Except for a few small
spots, the transfer remains virtually blemish free.

As incredible as this B&W transfer looked, I did
see a major problem. Please again keep in mind that
I have not seen this film previously on any format.

There's an awful amount of background shimmering
here that shows up in just about everything from
indoor fixtures to outdoor fences to chains that
hold pocket watches. It's almost as if all this
digital restoration has given us razor sharp
images, but taken away the look of film. It also
looks as if someone turned up the sharpness gain
control to the level where noise would be
introduced. Close-ups of faces show an awful
amount of noise. In addition, the contrast levels
are sky high in most of the outdoor scenes (although
I have been told the movie was filmed with high
contrast photography.

Posted ImagePosted Image

There are two audio settings from the Main Menu
that I discovered only after watching the film.
There's the original restored audio and
an enhanced original restored audio. I am
guessing that the disc defaults to the original
mix and that is the one I heard. I found the sound
to be very clear with nice strong highs. There was
a noticeable amount of background hiss, but none
of it became overly distracting.

If you take the good and bad into account here,
I was very impressed with this transfer. It was
very easy for me to trade off the background
shimmer and fairly high noise levels for a picture
that is remarkably clean and detailed. It is my
guess that this is the best the film has ever
looked.

Posted ImagePosted Image

High Noon arrives in a very handsome brown and
gold slipcase cover with raised shiny gold lettering.
It was a little difficult removing the DVD package
from its slipcover package (it's a tight fit), but
once I did, I opened up the case to find a 4-page
collector's booklet that contained poster art,
The making of High Noon , and a complete
chapter index.


Special Features

Posted ImagePosted Image

There's a full-length commentary with
Maria-Cooper Janis (Gary Cooper's daughter),
Jonathan Foreman (son of screenwriter Carl
Foreman), Tim (son of director Fred Zinnemann)
Zinnemann and John Ritter (son of Tex Ritter).
Maria sort of becomes a Moderator for the group
(yes they are all seated here together). Maria
and John begin by talking about the film's ballad,
Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling, a Dmitri
Tiomkin song that Ritter's father was so very proud
of. Ritter talks about his father's rise through
B-Westerns and television, becoming the first guy
to be signed with Capital Records. He became one
of the founders of the Country Music Association
(he helped unionize it). There is much discussion
about Grace Kelly, a new and fresh actress who was
the only female tested for the role. This film was
the beginning of her career. It's interesting to
hear Jonathan Foreman talk about how his father
created many of these characters out of those that
had tried to blacklist him during the McCarthy era.
Tim talks about how his father kept him away from
Hollywood, only letting him visit the High Noon set
once (where he rode a horse). This is a terrific
commentary track where all four voices play off
each other very nicely, carefully analyzing every
scene from its characters, to its sets, to its
budget restraints.

Posted Image

Behind High Noon is an all-new documentary
that begins with an introduction by Gary Cooper's
daughter, Maria. Maria explains that although
Cooper had starred in far less westerns than most,
he quickly rose to cinematic status as a western
hero. Carl Foreman talks about how his father
optioned a magazine story called The Tin Star
whose story was similar to an idea he had come up
earlier. Tim Zinnemann talks about his father who
while growing up in Vienna, was fascinated by the
Western stories featured in a series of books written
by a German author. This was Fred's first and only
Western, and it surprised critics that an Austrian
Jew could pull this off. We learn about Grace
Kelly's very prim and proper introduction to
Fred Zinnemann. Though she was bashful, Fred thought
she was perfect for the part although there was
a 30-year age difference between her and Gary Cooper.
We learn about the difficulties that the film had,
shooting in the era of the McCarthy hearings, which
had paranoia spreading amok in Hollywood. Carl
Foreman became a subject of those hearings, and
the film became a sort of representation of what
happened during that blacklist era.
(length: approx. 9.5 minutes)

Posted Image

The Making of High Noon is a rather extensive
featurette that becomes an exciting experience to
watch thanks to the enthusiastic support of host
Leonard Maltin who tells us how this modest
low-budget film went on to win four Academy awards
and earned a reputation as one of America's greatest
films. Maltin takes us through the early beginnings
of the film's production from its adaptation of
The Tin Star, and being lensed in the era
of McCarthyism. In what must have been one of his
last interviews, Stanley Kramer talks about the
prejudistic response the film received when it
opened. As the featurette shifts to the casting
of the film, Co-star Lloyd Bridges talks about
his admiration and love for actor Gary Cooper. We
go on to learn how various actors were chosen for
their perspective roles. With an extremely tight
shooting schedule (it was a 31-day shoot), we
take a look at a few storyboards that helped
expedite filming. In what was a revolutionary
element for its time, we learn how a song ballad
by Tex Ritter added emotional depth to the film.
His son, John Ritter, recalls his father's proudest
moment -- singing Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My
Darling
at the Academy awards where it won
Best Song.
(length: approx. 22 minutes)

Here's an interesting bonus! An original
radio broadcast from The Ralph Emery Show
which features Tex Ritter. Perhaps one of the most
eye-opening moments of this interview was when
the interviewer talks about bringing a gun to
the movie theater to simulate helping ol' Tex
beat the bad guys. Imagine if such a thing was
said in today's era?!
(length: 5.35 minutes)

Trailers for the High Noon Collector's
Edition
as well as Collector's Editions of
The Quiet Man and Rio Grande are
included here.


Final Thoughts


I feel like a Mother who is telling her children
to buy High Noon because it's not only
good for you, but is an essential part of any
DVD collection. Those children who buy this film
may be surprised that eating vegetables may be as
tasty as a hot fudge sundae dessert.

High Noon is certainly one of the best
Western films ever made, but more importantly, it
is a film about character -- doing what you believe
is right -- even if nobody supports you.


Release Date: October 22, 2002

 

Ronald J Epstein
Home Theater Forum co-owner

 

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#2 of 28 OFFLINE   Tommy Ceez

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Posted October 15 2002 - 12:58 AM

When Tony Saprano said "What ever happened to Gary Cooper" a couple of weeks ago he was talking about High Noon.
Bonus - Lee Van Cleef as one of the baddies
"We seem to be getting closer and closer to a situation where nobody is responsible for what they did but we are all responsible for what someone else did." - Thomas Sowell

#3 of 28 OFFLINE   Brian Kidd

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Posted October 15 2002 - 01:08 AM

Truly a fantastic film. Daring for its time and still relevant in today's world. I can't wait to see it again.
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#4 of 28 OFFLINE   SteveGon

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Posted October 15 2002 - 01:36 AM

Ron, thanks for the review. Glad ya liked the movie - it is one of the greats. Posted Image I'll be picking this one up.

#5 of 28 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted October 15 2002 - 02:03 AM

This sounds encouraging, especially the audio. The cleaned up track on the previous release really destroyed the audio with noise reduction. It looks like they gave us a natural track with hiss and the occasional crackle (a la the Criterioin laserdisc) to go along with a processed track for those who can't live with hiss.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA

#6 of 28 OFFLINE   GlennH

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Posted October 15 2002 - 03:20 AM

I have the current DVD release from Artisan, but have never gotten around to watching it yet. I'm wondering if I should replace it with this new Collector's Edition.

Assuming I don't care about the extras, strictly on video quality (and to a lesser extent audio), how do these two compare? I know Ron hasn't seen the previous DVD, but can anybody else comment?

It's really too bad Artisan has the rights to this one. They generally don't impress me at all. This may be unfair since I don't really know, but my guess is that if Warner had this movie we'd get a truly spectacular release (when they got around to it), with cleaned up video sans shimmering.

#7 of 28 OFFLINE   Gordon McMurphy

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Posted October 15 2002 - 03:33 AM

The Princess doesn't have much to do in this one, but she looks gorgeous. :b

Come on Paramount, give me her beauty in VistaVision and Technicolor - To Catch A Thief! Posted Image

Great review, Ron. I love this film. After recently watching MGM's DVD of Pride Of The Yankees, I've been wathcing more of Coop lately. Gotta get this DVD! Posted Image

Great stuff.


Gordy

#8 of 28 OFFLINE   Jan Strnad

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Posted October 15 2002 - 04:00 AM

One of the classics, for sure! Lucky Ron, getting to see it for the first time and seeing such a lovely print.

Jan
Jan Strnad

aka J. Knight,
author of Risen and Boo.

#9 of 28 OFFLINE   John Stone

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Posted October 15 2002 - 04:34 AM

I think I've found a foolproof method of getting SE's released of current bare-bones DVDs: I just need to buy the original version and within a few months an SE will be announced! Not only did I just purchase High Noon a few months ago, but the same thing happened with Unforgiven, Swingers, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus, Dirty Harry, Slap Shot, Memento, The Fugitive, Traffic, In The Line Of Fire, The 6th Day, Jerry Maguire, Starship Troopers and Men In Black (the list goes on).

I'll probably pick this new edition up because it's one of my favorite westerns. Posted Image

#10 of 28 OFFLINE   Lew Crippen

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Posted October 15 2002 - 07:19 AM

It takes more than broad shoulders to be a man

Great stuff. Thanks for the review, and (as Steve already said) glad you liked the movie. I definatley prefer this to the 80s remake with Sean Connery in the Gary Cooper role. I never felt that Outland dealt as effectively with the moral questions as did High Noon

¡Time is not my master!

#11 of 28 OFFLINE   rhett

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Posted October 15 2002 - 07:35 AM

HIGH NOON is great, and next to THE SEARCHERS I'd consider it my favorite western film.
"The Night HE Came Home"

#12 of 28 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted October 15 2002 - 10:51 AM

After watching the previous dvd release again, I want to state the following information to those that didn't know that High Noon was shot in 28 days for just $730,000




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#13 of 28 OFFLINE   Patrick_S

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Posted October 15 2002 - 03:12 PM

Quote:
After watching the previous dvd release again, I want to state the following information to those that didn't know that High Noon was shot in 28 days for just $730,000

I love this movie and those numbers are just amazing.

#14 of 28 OFFLINE   oscar_merkx

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Posted October 15 2002 - 08:55 PM

thanks for the review and I will be getting this as well

Posted Image
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#15 of 28 OFFLINE   Randy_M

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Posted October 15 2002 - 11:14 PM

Another example of an HTF review prompting a sale. Saw this in college film class decades ago and liked it very much, but wouldn't have purchased it without reading this review. Pre-order is now submitted.

Studios, are you listening?
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#16 of 28 OFFLINE   Robert Harris

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Posted October 16 2002 - 02:53 AM

Just so that we have all the facts straight, I believe this will be the third incarnation High Noon to DVD.

The first release (THX?) was virtually unviewable, as it had been digitally scrubbed beyond any recognition as film. It was so highly compressed that in close ups, one could easily see digital worms crawling about inside the actors faces, and moving their cheeks.

As I recall it was also way out of sync, getting progressively worse as the film wore on.

For those who have never seen this, check the documentary with To Kill a Mockingbird.

The second release was better, but I seem to still recall some sync problems.

Republic did not have a good track record.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers was offered in two versions, one in widescreen, the other full frame.

While the widescreen version was acceptable, and keeping in mind that this film was shot 1.37 and then cropped to produce anamorphic prints in a 2:1 ratio, the flat version was not the original spherically photographed original, but rather a full frame pan and scan...

created from the already cropped widescreen version.

RAH

"All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did." T.E. Lawrence


#17 of 28 OFFLINE   Matt Stone

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Posted October 16 2002 - 03:37 AM

Thanks for the review, Ron. This is one of my all-time favorites!
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#18 of 28 OFFLINE   Rob Tomlin

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Posted October 16 2002 - 04:15 PM

It's great to have a classic western like this done right on DVD. Now, if they would give the great Shane the same treatment.....
For ordinary men, it's a burning, fiery furnace.

#19 of 28 OFFLINE   Kurt N

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Posted October 17 2002 - 01:28 AM

Sounds great. I've never seen this film, so this looks like the way to go.

Another DVD sold by another ONLINE review.
War doesn't determine who is right. War determines who is left.

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#20 of 28 OFFLINE   Ken_McAlinden

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Posted October 17 2002 - 01:46 AM

Quote:
It's great to have a classic western like this done right on DVD. Now, if they would give the great Shane the same treatment.....
I think the Shane DVD is pretty great, actually.

Regards,
Ken McAlinden
Livonia, MI USA