The Western has seen something of a resurgence of late, with films such as Slow West, Bone Tomahawk and The Hateful Eight reminding us of the potency of the genre. So what better way for Olive to usher in their new “Signature Series” than with some of the best examples of that cherished American genre, Johnny Guitar, and the subject of this review, High Noon.
High Noon has a pedigree: The pairing of legendary actors Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly. Oscar nominations for best picture (Stanley Kramer, producer), best director (Fred Zinnemann) and best screenplay (Carl Foreman). Oscar wins for best editing, best score (Dimitri Tiomkin) and best song (“Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'” by Tiomkin and Ned Washington). More than this, watching the film, you feel a sense of its impact, it set a benchmark not just for Westerns but for American cinema.
The use of the real time aspect makes it relatable above the standard Western. High Noon smartly weaves the passage of time to further enhance the mood and tension, further engaging the audience. Add to this a host of superb performances from top to bottom. The stand out of course is Cooper, gravitas tinged with a weariness perfect for the piece but several notable actors make their mark, even with little screentime. The action, suspense all delivered with some beautiful cinematography. It’s a smartly shot film, lean and tense, full of grit and character.
THE PACKAGEOlive has put together this release from a new 4K transfer and it’s pretty stunning. Detail is impassive, as is contrast, it looks sharp but retains the grain and character of the film. The range of black and white is remarkable and further highlights how good it looks. It bodes well for the future of Olive Signature indeed. The release comes in a quality slip cover, inside the case is a booklet featuring a essay entitles “Uncitizened Kane” from Sight & Sound editor Nick James.
Special features include A Ticking Clock, where Academy Award nominee Mark Goldblatt discusses the stellar editing of High Noon and A Stanley Kramer Production where film distributor and curator Michael Schlesinger discusses the work of the esteemed High Noon producer. Both offer some nice insights and history into how the film was made.
Imitation of Life: The Blacklist History of High Noon is a fascinating watch as it delves into how screenwriter Walter Bernstein was blacklisted by Hollywood. Finally, the 12 minute featurette Ulcers and Oscars: The Production History of High Noon weaves together archival footage and images to discuss the film’s production, script and shooting issues, release and reception. It’s a frank and interesting addition narrated by the recently departed Anton Yelchin.
THE BOTTOM LINEOlive has always championed great films and with their new Signature series are giving them the royal treatment. A stunning 4K transfer backed up by some superb extras make this High Noon Blu-ray a handsome release worthy of a true American classic.
High Noon is available from Olive Signature on September 20th.