×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

High Noon

There's a difference between a classic and a cinematic masterpiece. It's almost always a mistake to remake the latter (see "Psycho"). But the original "High Noon" belongs in the other category. It's a classic, not because of some kind of filmic genius in Fred Zinnemann's solid direction, but because of the elemental simplicity of the set-up. The forces behind this TBS Western re-hash were smart enough not to mess with a good thing -- this is a very faithful rendition, with only minor adjustments. While it may not win a slew of awards, the pic works -- and given the well-known title and TBS' success with its originals, it could break some cable ratings records.

With:
Will Kane - Tom Skerritt Amy Kane - Susanna Thompson Harvey Pell - Reed Diamond Helen Ramirez - Maria Conchita Alonso Mart Howe - Dennis Weaver Antonio - August Schellenberg Frank Miller - Michael Madsen

This article was corrected August 20, 2000.

There’s a difference between a classic and a cinematic masterpiece. It’s almost always a mistake to remake the latter (see “Psycho”). But the original “High Noon” belongs in the other category. It’s a classic, not because of some kind of filmic genius in Fred Zinnemann’s solid direction, but because of the elemental simplicity of the set-up. The forces behind this TBS Western re-hash were smart enough not to mess with a good thing — this is a very faithful rendition, with only minor adjustments. While it may not win a slew of awards, the pic works — and given the well-known title and TBS’ success with its originals, it could break some cable ratings records.

The storyline is as crisp as they come. On his wedding day, just as he’s giving up his marshal’s badge, Will Kane gets word that villainous Frank Miller has been pardoned and will be arriving on the noon train to seek revenge. Only a few minutes in, everybody knows exactly where this story’s headed: There’s a shoot-out a-comin’.

Gary Cooper won an Oscar for his portrayal of unappreciated lawman Will Kane, and the choice of Tom Skerritt here demonstrates the desire not to reinterpret the role in any drastic manner. Skerritt and Cooper share a certain seasoned poise, and both seem a bit too tired to be handling this crisis. Skerritt’s eyes perhaps look a bit watery right from the start, but that’s also because director Rod Hardy (“Buffalo Girls”) zooms in on them a lot.

Not only do the characters basically remain the same, but the tone does, too. There’s a sadness permeating the film: Kane is being abandoned by the townsfolk he’s faithfully served, and even by his new wife, Amy, who doesn’t want to wait around to be widowed. Grace Kelly was the picture of gentle pacifism in the original, and Susanna Thompson is more zealous here. The most prominent changes to the TBS version involve Amy, and the best that can be said about the tweaks is that they don’t do much damage.

Of the other members of the contemporary cast, Maria Conchita Alonso, Dennis Weaver, and Michael Madsen actually improve upon their predecessors, while Reed Diamond, as the disloyal young deputy portrayed originally by Lloyd Bridges, is just obnoxiously bratty rather than naive and needy.

“High Noon” is also known as a “real-time” film — there’s 80 minutes of screen time and 80 minutes that elapse in the life of Will Kane. The focus on clocks is matched, and even amplified, but Hardy and writer T.S. Cook make the mistake of “opening up” some of the scenes, and this has the effect of impeding the oppressive sense of constant anticipation. Commercial interruptions will worsen the problem.

Of course, it’s really the shoot-out that counts. And while, again, Hardy makes the action work in a basic sense, there are several moments when cinematographer Robert McLachlan and editor Michael Ornstein make it look too much like a video game. Clarity would have been preferable to an effort at purposeful confusion.

There is one element, though, that’s most obviously, and lamentably, absent — the original music from Tex Ritter.

High Noon

Telefilm; TBS, Sun. Aug. 20, 8 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT

Production: Filmed in Calgary by Rosemont Prods. Executive producer, David A. Rosemont; co-executive producer, Karen Sharpe Kramer; producer, Ted Bauman. Directed by Rod Hardy; written by Carl Foreman and T. S. Cook, based on the screenplay by Foreman and the magazine story, "The Tin Star," by John W. Cunningham.

Crew: Cinematography, Robert McLachlan; production design, Rick Roberts; editor, Michael Ornstein; music, Allyn Ferguson; costumes, Wendy Partridge; casting, Penny Ellers, Bette Chadwick, Candice Elzinga. 120 MIN.

Cast: Will Kane - Tom Skerritt Amy Kane - Susanna Thompson Harvey Pell - Reed Diamond Helen Ramirez - Maria Conchita Alonso Mart Howe - Dennis Weaver Antonio - August Schellenberg Frank Miller - Michael MadsenWith: Matthew Walker, Frank C. Turner, Shaun Johnston, Terry M. King, Kate Newby, David Lereaney, Brian Stollery, Noel Fisher, Joe Norman Shaw, Trevor Leigh, Jim Leyden, Stephen Eric McIntyre, Jim Shield, Colin Campbell, Royal Sproule, Tom McBeath, Andy Maton, Rainer Kahl, Peter Strand Rumpel, Larry Austin, Bob Chomyn, Jim Rattai, Jacqueline Robbins, Joyce Robbins, Brent Woolsey, Thomas Legg, Judith Buchan.

More TV

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Ken Jeong to Star in CBS

    Ken Jeong to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan

    A “Crazy Rich Asians” reunion is happening at CBS. Ken Jeong has been cast in a lead role in the multi-camera comedy pilot “The Emperor of Malibu,” which is being co-written and executive produced by “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. In the series, Auggie, the son of a Chinese tech billionaire, announces his engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content