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High Noon

High Noon is accepted as one of the quintessential American films, with its hero’s dilemma the very epitome of the Western genre where “a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.” It was, however, directed by Austrian-born director Fred Zinneman who consciously wanted to avoid any all-American clichés associated with the genre. 

Gary Cooper plays Will Kane: the upright lawman who must face-off against a gang of revenge-seeking criminals, and who finds himself standing alone when the townspeople he is protecting refuse to come to his aid. 

Viewed against the backdrop of America’s post-War communist witch hunt, High Noon also reflects a more contemporary, complex personal dilemma. It was written by Carl Foreman who, like many others in the 30s and 40s, had been a member of the Communist Party, and was being called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Controversial at the time of its release, the film increasingly became a metaphor for the decision to blacklist Foreman and the febrile atmosphere of McCarthyism in Hollywood. 

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