High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic

HIGH NOON                                                    GLENN FRANKEL

It's one of the most revered movies of Hollywood's golden era. Starring screen legend Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly in her first significant film role, High Noon was shot on a lean budget over just thirty-two days but achieved instant box-office and critical success. It won four Academy Awards in 1953, including a best actor win for Cooper. And it became a cultural touchstone, often cited by politicians as a favorite film, celebrating moral fortitude.

Yet what has been often overlooked is that High Noon was made during the height of the Hollywood blacklist, a time of political inquisition and personal betrayal. In the middle of the film shoot, screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. Refusing to name names, he was eventually blacklisted and fled the United States. (His co-authored screenplay for another classic, The Bridge on the River Kwai, went uncredited in 1957.) Examined in light of Foreman's testimony, High Noon's emphasis on courage and loyalty takes on deeper meaning and importance.

In this book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of the making of a great American Western, exploring how Carl Foreman's concept of High Noon evolved from the idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.


This book is about the making of the movie High Noon, that western that some people don’t think it is a western and others such as Presidents named it one of their favorite movie. The author takes you through Gary Cooper’s life, childhood and his way to Hollywood. The first movies, Sgt York, Pride of the Yankees, to name just a few. The author then will take you through the HUAC hearings, and how the FBI during the early forties broke into offices to steal records of people they felt were signed up to be communists. Mind you this all took place in Hollywood and included writers, directors, actors, even some sectaries, and some camera operators. Of course, the FBI is just looking out for everyone. After WWII, jobs were becoming tighter and so unions began to from and so did the idea that unions were part of a communist plot. Meanwhile, as this was going Carl Foreman who worked on many films as a writer had come up with the idea of High Noon and was beginning to put everything in place. Hiring the director and actors, Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges, and Katy Jurado to name a few. During this time the early fifties a hearing began in L.A. and people would be called who were suspected of having joined the communist party. Everyone was born in the U.S. and if they invoked either of their 1st or 5th amendment rights per the constitution they would be blacklisted in Hollywood. If you were named by someone you could be fired that very same day. Carl would be called in 1951 and before he went he had finished filming High Noon but made an agreement with his partners at the time to take his name off the credits still get paid, all because he was not going to name anyone at his hearing. Growing up in the streets of Chicago this was not what you did. It should also be said that he served in the armed forces during WWII and yet still they called into question his loyalty. He would be found guilty because he showed up and because he would not give any names, he would end up leaving the U.S moving to England. Later he would write Bridge over river Kiwi, and the guns of Navarone, to name a few. I still liked and always have liked this movie and the author takes you the reader through a time in our country that know talks about any more but many people’s lives were affected by it and yet the congressmen and Senators, would only be voted out not to have a mark like they put on the people who came through their doors. A good book. I received this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 4 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com

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