The Western film of the time featured good guys, bad guys, lots of action and colorfill scenery. High Noon broke the mold and many viewers disliked the movie as it did not fit the mold. Change is often hard to accept. Many even decried is as anti-American.
In 1952 America was fighting the Korean conflict, A.K.A Korean War. the Red Menace was our enemy and the HUAC was the tool to root out Reds, particularly in Hollywood. Many saw the townpeople’s rejection of their marshall as an allegory for those in Hollywood denouncing their friends and co-workers to save their own skins. High Noon was denounced by most, if not all conservative interest groups.
Background material from Wikipedia:
High Noon is a 1952 American Western film produced by Stanley Kramer from a screenplay by Carl Foreman, directed by Fred Zinnemann, and starring Gary Cooper. The plot, depicted in real time, centers around a town marshal, torn between his sense of duty and love for his new bride, who must face a gang of killers alone.
Though mired in controversy with political overtones at the time of its release was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and won four (Actor, Editing, Music-Score, and Music-Song) as well as four Golden Globe Awards (Actor, Supporting Actress, Score, and Cinematography-Black and White). The award-winning score was written by Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin.
High Noon was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” in 1989, the NFR’s first year of existence.
In Hadleyville, a small town in New Mexico Territory, Marshal Will Kane (Cooper), newly married to Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), is preparing to retire. The happy couple is departing for a new life, raising a family and running a store in another town; but word arrives that Frank Miller (Ian MacDonald), a vicious outlaw whom Kane sent to jail, has been released, and is arriving on the noon train. Miller’s gang—his younger brother Ben (Sheb Wooley), Jack Colby (Lee Van Cleef), and Jim Pierce (Robert J. Wilke)—await his arrival at the train station; it is clear that Miller intends to exact revenge.
For Amy, a devout Quaker and pacifist, the solution is simple—leave town before Miller arrives; but Kane’s sense of duty and honor is strong. “They’re making me run,” he tells her. “I’ve never run from anybody before.” Besides, he says, Miller and his gang will hunt him down anyway. Amy gives Kane an ultimatum: She is leaving on the noon train, with or without him. While waiting at the hotel for the train, she meets Helen Ramírez (Katy Jurado), who was once Miller’s lover, and then Kane’s, and is leaving as well. Amy understands why Helen is fleeing, but the reverse is not true: Helen tells Amy that if Kane were her man, she would not abandon him in his hour of need.
Kane’s efforts to round up a posse at the tavern, and then the church, are met with fear and hostility. Some townspeople, worried that a gunfight would damage the town’s reputation, urge Kane to avoid the confrontation entirely. Others are Miller’s friends, and resent that Kane cleaned up the town in the first place.
Kane’s young deputy Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges), who is bitter that Kane did not recommend him as his successor, says he will stand with Kane only if Kane goes to the city fathers and “puts the word in” for him. Kane rejects the quid pro quo, and Pell turns in his badge. Kane visits a series of old friends and allies, but none can (or will) help: His predecessor, Marshal Howe (Lon Chaney Jr.) is old and arthritic; Judge Percy Mettrick (Otto Kruger), who sentenced Miller, flees on horseback, and urges Kane to do the same; townsman Herb Baker (James Millican) agrees to be deputized, but backs out when he realizes he is the only volunteer; Sam Fuller (Harry Morgan) hides in his house, sending his wife to the door to tell Kane he isn’t home.
Kane writes out his will as the clock in his office ticks toward high noon. At the stables, Pell saddles a horse and tries to persuade Kane to mount it and leave town. Their conversation becomes an argument, and then a fist fight. Kane finally knocks his former deputy senseless, then goes into the street to face Miller and his gang. In one of the most iconic shots in film history, the camera rises and widens to show Kane standing alone on a deserted street in a deserted town.
The outlaws approach and the gunfight begins. Kane guns down Ben Miller and Colby, but is wounded in the process. As the train is about to leave the station, Amy hears the gunfire, leaps off, and runs back to town. Choosing her husband’s life over her religious beliefs, she picks up Ben Miller’s gun and shoots Pierce from behind, leaving only Frank Miller, who grabs Amy as a shield to force Kane into the open. Amy claws Miller’s face and he pushes her to the ground, giving Kane a clear shot, and he shoots Miller dead.
Kane helps his bride to her feet and they embrace. As the townspeople emerge and cluster around him, Kane surveys them with bitter contempt, wordlessly throws his marshal’s star in the dirt, and departs with Amy on their wagon.
John Wayne was originally offered the lead role in the film, but turned it down because he felt that Foreman’s story was an obvious allegory against blacklisting, which he actively supported. Later, he told an interviewer that he would “never regret having helped run [Foreman] out of the country”.Cooper was Wayne’s longtime friend, and shared his conservative political views; he had been a “friendly witness” before HUAC, but did not implicate anyone as a suspected Communist, and later became a vigorous opponent of blacklisting. Ironically, Cooper won an Academy Award for his performance, and since he was working in Europe at the time, asked Wayne to accept the Oscar on his behalf. Although Wayne’s contempt for the film and refusal of its lead role were well known, he said, “I’m glad to see they’re giving this to a man who is not only most deserving, but has conducted himself throughout the years in our business in a manner that we can all be proud of … Now that I’m through being such a good sport … I’m going back and find my business manager and agent … and find out why I didn’t get High Noon instead of Cooper …”
After Wayne turned down the Will Kane role, Kramer offered it to Gregory Peck, who declined because he felt it was too similar to his role in The Gunfighter, the year before. He later said he considered it the biggest mistake of his career. Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, and Charlton Hestonalso declined the role.
Kramer saw Grace Kelly in an off-Broadway play and cast her as Kane’s bride, despite Cooper and Kelly’s substantial age disparity (50 and 21, respectively). Rumors of an affair between Cooper and Kelly during filming remain unsubstantiated. Kelly biographer Donald Spoto wrote that there was no evidence of a romance, aside from tabloid gossip. Biographer Gina McKinnon speculated that “there might well have been a roll or two in the hay bales”, but cited no evidence, other than a remark by Kelly’s sister Lizanne that Kelly was “infatuated” with Cooper.
Lee Van Cleef made his film debut in High Noon. Kramer first offered him the Harvey Pell role, after seeing him in a touring production of Mister Roberts, on the condition that he have his nose surgically altered to appear less menacing. Van Cleef refused, and was cast instead as Colby, the only role of his career without a single line of dialog.
The climactic final scene of the movie from YOUTUBE:
Google Play and Amazon video are sources to watch the film.