The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, one of the all-time great westerns, is thematically summed up in its famous line: “When the legend becomes fact… print the legend”. It’s a testament to the tall tales and supersized accounts of real events that shape our history and mythology. Some truths are lost or obscured, and new “truths” take their place.
From Noon Till Three takes that idea and runs it for all it’s worth – and then some. Unique, strange, and frustrating, it’s a defiantly unconventional western that puts star Charles Bronson in a seemingly familiar genre and then turns the tables.
Bronson plays Graham Dorsey, a weaselly but somewhat likeable bank robber who acts on a premonition that his gang’s next job will go awry. Convinced by the bad vibes, he devises an excuse to stay behind, coercing the “hospitality” of an attractive widow named Amanda (Jill Ireland), whose mansion sits a few miles outside the town that serves as their next target.
Amanda is lonely and unhappy, and the pair end up hitting it off, and have a whirlwind afternoon of lust and romance. It seems destined to end when Graham’s gang returns to pick him up, but they never do. It tuns out his premonition was correct, and their luck ran out that day. It’s the perfect setup for a happy ending, but that’s precisely when things get crazy.
Graham steals another man’s clothes to try to throw the law off his trail, but his assumed identity is also a crook and he ends up in prison serving time for crimes he didn’t commit, under another man’s name. Believing him dead, Amanda mourns his loss and eventually ghostwrites a hyper-exaggerated romance novel based on their scandalous love affair. It becomes a huge bestseller, catapulting her into fame, as well as the name of Graham Dorsey – ironically stealing it from its true owner.
This is such an odd film, taking things in a really weird direction that pits myth against reality. It becomes a nightmare scenario for Graham, who attempts to reclaim his identity and reunite with his lover, but must take on his own mythology in the process. Even Amanda loses touch with the real account and begins to “remember” a tall, handsome gentleman caller rather than the truth – a dopey bandit who nearly raped her before tricking her into pity sex by lamenting his erectile dysfunction.
Personally, I can’t recommend this one. While I can appreciate them in theory, Kafka-esque “personal hell” absurdity stories tend to get under my skin. From Noon Till Three is appreciably atypical and tonally weird, but I found it clammy and unpleasant, and a film I’m unlikely to ever revisit. But if this sounds like something you’d find intriguing, give it a peek.
From Noon Till Three has arrived on Blu-ray from Twilight Time in a Limited Edition of 3000 units. It follows their usual packaging aesthetic of a clear Blu-ray case and an 8-page booklet with an essay by Julie Kirgo.
— CultOfBluRayAddicts (@COBRAcollector) October 29, 2016
Special Features and Extras
Isolated Score Track (with some effects)
music by Elmer Bernstein
Original Theatrical Trailer (2:01)
Available directly from Twilight Time.