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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

High Noon (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements


High Noon stands as a classic adult western that has stood the test of time and withstood the sway of the dark politics of its time. A classic showdown western that finds a lone marshal with a new bride standing down a gang leader at high noon.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

The 1952 western classic High Noon stars Gary Cooper as Hadleyville marshal Will Kane, newlywed to his beautiful Quaker bride Amy, played by a twenty-one-year-old Grace Kelly in only her second film role and twenty-nine-years younger than co-star Cooper.

Meant to retire as the town marshal and go away on his honeymoon, Kane gets word that the Miller gang, whose leader Frank (Ian MacDonolad) Will had put away for murder, is actually heading into town on the noon train. At first Will and Amy start out of Hadleyville, but Will’s pride won’t let him abandon his duty and his town without facing down Frank and his cronies once and for all. The problem is, when Will asks for deputies to help him fight off the Millers, he finds himself abandoned by a bunch of yellow-bellied townsfolk who seem more interested in pointing blame around and having long discussions about why the town is facing danger than actually lifting a finger to help the marshal that kept them safe for so many years. His Chief Deputy Harvey Pell (Lloyd Bridges) is envious of Will’s job and covets his ex-mistress, the (Katy Jurado); the town’s former marshal Martin Howe (Lon Chaney) is now an aged drunkard who can’t even lift a gun, and even his wife Amy buys a ticket on the noon train out of town so as not to be around when the fighting starts. Eventually, Will must make his way to the town square for a showdown with the Miller gang and fate, alone.

The film is shot in real time, so its eighty-five-minute runtime ticks down with an intense sense of realism paced in the actual timeframe in which the story takes place that is heightened using tight camera work and the persistent symbol of a clock ticking down. High Noon was caught up in the red scare McCarthyism of the 1950s. Writer Carl Foreman, whose blacklisting was only temporarily spared by rabid anti-communist Gary Cooper, would fall to the blacklist of the House Un-American Activities Committee. John Wayne, who ironically accepted Cooper’s Oscar award in absentia for his role in High Noon, said the film was the most un-American western he’d ever seen, and director Howard Hawks, another right-wing Hollywood anti-communist hated High Noon so much, he felt compelled to “answer” it with his own film, Rio Bravo. Despite all the shocked sentiments from the anti-communists, High Noon has gone on to be one of the most lauded and enduring westerns ever filmed.

Also ironic is the fact that the story’s protagonist, Will Kane, plays out in fiction the story of the isolated and abandoned hero who must resist oppressive forces, a story that directly mirrors that of writer Carl Foreman’s real-life tribulations during the blacklist era.

Purchase High Noon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics) on Amazon.com

  • Gary Cooper in High Noon (1952)
  • Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in High Noon (1952)
  • Katy Jurado in High Noon (1952)
  • Lee Van Cleef, Ian MacDonald, Robert J. Wilke, and Sheb Wooley in High Noon (1952)
  • Gary Cooper in High Noon (1952)
  • High Noon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics)
  • High Noon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics)
  • High Noon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics)

The Video

High Noon is taken from a brand new HDR/Dolby Vision Master from a 4K scan of the 35mm original camera negative and presented on 4K Ultra HD in a 1.37:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement. The included Blu-ray is taken from the same brand new 4K scan. This film has looked superb on Blu-ray for a few years now given the UK release from Eureka’s Masters of Cinema and the US release from the now defunct Olive Signature label. Both looked beautiful, making one believe that this film must also be blessed with a very good, well-kept source. This new restoration looks similar to those earlier restorations, but removes some spotty issues with jaggies on edges that appeared in some places and the slightest bit of noise. The stark black and white imagery has stable contrast with deep blacks. The tightly packed grain structure provides crispy details, especially on closeups where you can see each crack and wrinkle on someone’s face or the tiniest bead of sweat rolling down their face. The Dolby Vision grading acts mostly to enhance the contrast a bit, with just a subtle boost to some of the highlights.

The Audio

The original mono audio mix for High Noon is provided in a very well presented, clear and clean DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 track that is surprisingly dynamic and ambient for a monaural mix from 1952.

The Supplements

The two new audio commentaries, which appear on both the 4K and Blu-ray discs, are the biggest bonuses here. Both film historians offer great commentaries, with Julie Kirgo offering a deeper dive into the film’s connection to the Red Scare and the Hollywood blacklist while Alan K. Rode gives a commentary more focused on the production and on-set issues.

Bonus Features:

  • Audio Commentary by Author/Film Historian Alan K. Rode (NEW)
  • Audio Commentary by Film Historian/Writer Julie Kirgo (NEW)

Blu-ray Only Bonus Features:

  • A Ticking Clock: Featurette (1080p; 00:05:54)
  • A Stanley Kramer Production: Featurette (1080p; 00:14:00)
  • Imitation of Life – The Hollywood Blacklist and High Noon: Featurette (1080p; 00:09:27)
  • Oscars and Ulcers – The Production History of High Noon: Featurette (1080p; 00:12:02)
  • Uncitizened Kane: Essay (1080p)
  • The Making of High Noon: Featurette (SD; 00:22:11)
  • High Noon – Trailer (1080p; 00:01:37)

The Final Assessment

From its stark black and white cinematography to its steely hero of determined convictions and real-time story arc, High Noon was an innovative film that spanned multiple genres — western, drama, thriller, action, even noir. This KL Studio Classics 4K restoration on 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray is an excellent, reference quality release that moves to the top of the list of the best way to enjoy this nail-biting western classic.

High Noon is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo May 7, 2024 from Kino Lorber

Purchase High Noon 4K Ultra HD Combo (KL Studio Classics) on Amazon.com

  • Rating Certificate: PG
  • Studios & Distributors: Stanley Kramer Productions | Kino Lorber
  • Director: Fred Zinnemann
  • Written By: Carl Foreman | John W. Cunningham
  • Run Time: 85 Mins.
  • Street Date: 7 May 2024
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
  • Video Format: AVC 1080p
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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High Noon stands as a classic adult western that has stood the test of time and withstood the sway of the dark politics of its time. A classic showdown western that finds a lone marshal with a new bride standing down a gang leader at high noon.High Noon (4K UHD Review)