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

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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.
    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.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    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
    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.
    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.
    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
    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
    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.
    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)
    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
    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
    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
  2. Tommy Ceez

    Tommy Ceez Second Unit

    Jul 16, 2002
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    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
  3. Brian Kidd

    Brian Kidd Screenwriter

    Nov 14, 2000
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    Truly a fantastic film. Daring for its time and still relevant in today's world. I can't wait to see it again.
  4. SteveGon

    SteveGon Executive Producer

    Dec 11, 2000
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    Ron, thanks for the review. Glad ya liked the movie - it is one of the greats. [​IMG] I'll be picking this one up.
  5. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer

    Feb 20, 2001
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    Livonia, MI USA
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    Kenneth McAlinden
    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.

  6. GlennH

    GlennH Cinematographer

    Sep 28, 1998
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    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. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

    Aug 3, 2002
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    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! [​IMG]
    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! [​IMG]
    Great stuff.
  8. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

    Jan 1, 1999
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    One of the classics, for sure! Lucky Ron, getting to see it for the first time and seeing such a lovely print.

  9. John Stone

    John Stone Supporting Actor

    Aug 5, 2001
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    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. [​IMG]
  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    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
  11. rhett

    rhett Supporting Actor

    May 11, 2001
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    HIGH NOON is great, and next to THE SEARCHERS I'd consider it my favorite western film.
  12. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator

    Dec 9, 1998
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    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

  13. Patrick_S

    Patrick_S Producer

    Apr 1, 2000
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  14. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    thanks for the review and I will be getting this as well
  15. Randy_M

    Randy_M Supporting Actor

    Oct 25, 2000
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    Peoria, AZ
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    Randy Margolis
    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?
  16. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist

    Feb 8, 1999
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    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.

  17. Matt Stone

    Matt Stone Lead Actor

    Jun 21, 2000
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    Thanks for the review, Ron. This is one of my all-time favorites!
  18. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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    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.....
  19. Kurt N

    Kurt N Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 2, 2001
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    Sounds great. I've never seen this film, so this looks like the way to go.

    Another DVD sold by another ONLINE review.
  20. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Producer

    Feb 20, 2001
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    Livonia, MI USA
    Real Name:
    Kenneth McAlinden

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