Monday, October 6, 2014

The End of the West

After seeing the Dobie Gillis High Noon parody, we felt we needed to re-watch the original to see if it was like we remembered.

You remember High Noon (1952) of course. Sheriff Gary Cooper is getting married to Quaker Grace Kelly and retiring from law enforcement. All of a sudden, word comes that his sworn enemy will arrive by the noon train. Fortunately, Cooper has resigned already, so he and his bride ride out of town, out of danger, and the movie is over! No, wait, they turn around for some reason and head back to face trouble. This trouble comes in many forms: the bad guys, Cooper's deputy Lloyd Bridges, Cooper's Mexican prostitute ex-girlfriend (Katy Jurado, in a great role), and mostly, Grace Kelly's nagging.

So, the movie had a great theme song ("Do Not Forget Me, O My Darling"), some fine and influential cinematography, Lee Van Cleef's first role, and a deep philosophical basis. The moral of the story seems to be "Quakers are jerks." Boy, is Grace Kelly annoying.

We figured we'd continue in that vein, and revisit Shane (1953) (actually, my first time). Gunfighter and drifter Alan Ladd drops by the homestead of Van Heflin, Jean Arthur and their annoying child and stays to protect them from the big cattleman trying to run the farmers out of the valley.

Van Heflin plays more or less the same hard-working, hard-luck character as in 3:10 to Yuma. He is proud of his little homestead and his little wife. It's pretty obvious that she and Alan Ladd are meant to be attracted, but I didn't really see sparks.

The bad guys bait one of the farmers into drawing and cut him down - Elisha Cook, Jr. as a blowhard ex-Confederate. Now Heflin wants to take a stand - but will Ladd let him?

The moral here is that the kid is annoying.

Both movies were really well made, well written and beautifully shot. But maybe we just weren't in the mood.

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