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The Un-American Western

The Un-American Western

(p.95) Chapter Three The Un-American Western
Fred Zinnemann and the Cinema of Resistance
J. E. Smyth
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter explores Zinnemann's involvement in High Noon (1952), a modestly budgeted story of a Western sheriff left alone to face his enemies that would go on to be one of the most controversial Westerns and stinging critiques of American politics and culture. Although the film's resonance with the Hollywood blacklist has impacted its critical status as a “true Western,” the European-born, Jewish director, perhaps even more than the screenwriter, is the “outsider” in this American Western debate and the key to understanding much of the critical unease surrounding High Noon for sixty years. The chapter focuses not only on Zinnemann's revisioning of the genre through the harsh cinematography and edited close-ups, but also on his unique collaboration with Gary Cooper that resulted in aging, vulnerable Western hero who was nevertheless unafraid to show his fear.

Keywords:   High Noon (1952), Carl Foreman, Gary Cooper, Westerns, Floyd Crosby

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