It is one of Hollywood’s most iconic images: a lawman walking down a deserted Western street toward a showdown with four armed killers. For more than 60 years, High Noon, starring Gary Cooper, has embedded itself in our culture and our national memory. Its title itself has become legendary, connoting a moment of truth when a good man must confront evil.
Shot in 32 days on a shoestring—with its famous star working for a fraction of his normal wage—High Noon was an afterthought for those who made it, a rush job to fulfill the tail end of an old contract. Yet it vaulted almost immediately to critical acclaim and box-office success. Its taut narrative, powerful performances, evocative theme song, and climactic shootout made it an instant classic. It won four Academy Awards, including best actor for Cooper. Even today it is considered one of the most enduring films of Hollywood’s golden age.
Each generation has imposed its own politics and values onto High Noon. Yet what has largely been forgotten is that the man who had written the script had set out with a very specific goal: to make an allegory about the Hollywood blacklist, the men who sought to enforce it, and the cowardly community that stood by silently and allowed it to happen.
Read more at Vanity Fair.