I am a huge classic film fan and one of my all-time favorites is High Noon. The film is more than a typical Western as it explores time, loyalty, betrayal, and cowardice in haunting ways.
The story tells the tale of a solitary, stoic, honor-bound marshal/hero who is fearful but duty-bound to vanquish the town's enemy by himself. This western deviates from the Hollywood formula and that is why I love it. What makes High Noon special for me is that it shows the hero as fearful, writing his last will and testament, constantly looking at the clock anticipating the high noon arrival of the train carrying a gang that he knows will likely kill him, but he stays anyway.
High Noon has, I think, the most telling portrayal of a hero. The story of a man, who while completely terrified, opts to stay and do the right thing regardless of the cost. When Grace Kelly, who plays his newlywed wife Amy Kane, says "Don't try to be a hero! You don't have to be a hero, not for me!" he replies "I'm not trying to be a hero. If you think I like this, you're crazy."
The film backstory is its own drama against the backdrop of the Hollywood blacklist. The film itself was considered an allegory, a criticism of the herd mentality and hysteria of the time, when politicians, pundits and those with power in every industry called out and cast out the pariahs, which included the film’s screenwriter, Carl Foreman, a former communist who refused to name names and suffered for it.
But, my question is why do we have to rely on a hero? Gary Cooper’s Marshal Will Kane in “High Noon,” faces impossible odds, struggling, standing alone and risking it all. I like to think in 2020, we the town would all rush in and make the cowards run for cover. So, this film definitely resonates with me today and actually inspires me to be courageous and fight for what is right.