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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Transitional > Political > High Noon (1952/Lionsgate 2-Disc Ultimate Edition/DVD-Video)

High Noon (1952/Lionsgate 2-Disc Ultimate Edition/DVD-Video)


Picture: B-†††† Sound: B- ††††Extras: A- ††††Film: A-



High Noon is one of those few films that people are familiar with even if they havenít actually seen the film.The film has been so highly imitated in so many other mediums including TV shows, comics, commercials, cartoons, you name it Ė its been done.And of course the question that always follows that is, what makes Fred Zinnemannís 1952 film so memorable?There probably isnít a right or wrong answer to that, but I can certainly tell you that itís a combination of all the right things coming together.The first is the casting, which pairs a middle aged Gary Cooper in one of his finest roles and with him is Grace Kelly, who always stole the screen, but their chemistry in this film is definitely one of the factors that make this film work so well.


Not only is the film well-cast, but itís direction is superb as the story never really loses any momentum and at every second of the film there is something that is happening that is important in some way or another.Very few films are this tight and that type of filmmaking is not only hard to accomplish, but nearly impossible with certain scripts.This is virtuoso filmmaking at its best and perhaps one of Zinnemannís finest films.Itís certainly one of the greatest Westerns of itís time and remains one of the more important Black & White Westerns to come out in the 1950ís.


There has been so much said about this film that itís becoming harder to find new ways to talk about it, but even 50+ years after its release itís hard to think of cinematic history without this gem.Hopefully they wonít try and re-make it!Cooper would even live another decade after the films release and this is one of his finest films of his late career.Kelly would only do a few films as well before ending her career long before she had to, but would work with Hitchcock on several classics before an early retirement.The film also stars a young Lloyd Bridges as well as Lon Chaney Jr. and other good supporting cast members.


The story centers around the famous standoff scene, which happens of course at noon, but the buildup to that is what most people forget.Cooper plays an aging Marshal who is in many ways opposite to his very conservative wife (Kelly).She is of the faith that killing is wrong, where the Marshal realizes that killing is part of the business and that must all come to the surface as a killer breaks free and is en route to their peaceful town.As I mentioned earlier there are no wasted scenes and as the tension builds, so do the layers of each scene as we approach the climax, which in many ways is open-ended in its deliberation.


Having owned the previous Artisan DVD release of the film I was well-aware of both the strong points and problems with that transfer and used it as a reference point for this review as I did some thorough A/B comparisons.Using three key scenes I toggled back and forth and noticed immediately that the Artisan release was significantly brighter and appeared to have a boosted amount of white, which I suspect was an attempt to flush out some of the poor detail.


Lionsgate has issued a much superior DVD though in picture with the 1.33 X 1 full-frame B&W image looking much sharper with a more refined sense of grayscale with no apparent boosting of whites or blacks.The dark moments are appropriately so and there does not appear to be any smudging or excessive grain.Overall the print looks stunningly clean and with lots of depth for a film of this age, which only indicates to me that this print must have been in good condition to begin with.


I could not detect any difference in the 2 audio tracks that are provided, which appear to be the same from the previous DVD issue, which includes both a Dolby Digital 1.0 mono mix as well as an enhanced Dolby Digital 3.1 configuration, which enables a front soundstage to exist with a .1 LFE channel for the low frequencies, which are not frequent at all, but does enable those who might have smaller speakers to have the sub take the bulk of the low end.One thing that does seem to be corrected with this new issue is a few moments of out-of-sync that did appear on the Artisan release and was one of the factors that always plagued that DVD, which is now a non-issue with this release.YEAH!


Extras at first glace appear identical, however, the Lionsgate issue, but the same extras are recycled here from the previous release AND there are new supplements as well, which combined with the superior picture and in-sync sound makes this issue put the all previous version to shame and should be officially defunct.One can only hope that a Blu-ray HD 1080p transfer is in the works for this film!



-†† Nate Goss


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