Thursday, April 05, 2007


I've been to a number of movies lately. Two of them were movies by legendary director Fred Zinnemann (the Austrian-born filmmaker of Oklahoma!,* From Here to Eternity,* A Man for all Seasons,* and about eight other Oscar-nominated titles). Today, after an uneventful metro ride, I saw Zinnemann's western masterpiece High Noon (1952),* a taut little real-time daylight noir at once archetypical and allegorical. I figure most everyone has some familiarity with this movie. I've seen it on TV numerous times. I've seen its disembodied scenes used as examples in documentaries, as padding in retrospectives, and as allusive Americana in everything from commercials to comedy skits. It was great to see this movie on the big screen, its chronology intact: Marshall Will Kane's mounting desperation mirrors the rising temperature as he crisscrosses town unable to rally a posse against the gunman coming for him on the noon train. More than a gunfight, it's a revelation of cold war paranoia where everyone's motives seem reasonable, but nothing is happening the way it should. By the end, lives, souls, and convictions will be crushed. And ain't Gary Cooper cool? Even sweating in fear under the blazing sun, he's a wealth of outdated dignity in a compromised society. In the final minute of the movie, his well-earned disgust with the world is devastating. Yesterday, after a metro ride fraught with harrowing peril, I saw Zinnemann's Act of Violence (1948).* This tight contemporary noir classic opens as a gunman boards a bus, train, rental car, and boat in the process of stalking another man who seems to be an average Joe. But this is noir, where nobody's just what they seem. Tricky and inventive, this story of the armed past confronting a WWII POW is naturalistic, powerful, and believe it or not, character-driven. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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