High Noon: A metaphor for life of some people like me III

This has been languishing from quite some time…… more than that is decent and proper, considering the last post in this series was put on April 26. I do apologise for all the work, preoccupations, not to mention the distractions which kept me from bringing it to a speedy close…..

As I wrote, “High Noon” was an excellent film, which though classified under the Western genre, had none of this class’ stock features like chases, scenery, or fights (both of the fist and gun kinds)…. except in the very last. Told in real time – basically in the course of one and a half hour or so – it is the tale of a marshal in a typical Western town hanging up his star as he gets married but then learning of some disqueting news. It is that a murderer he helped put away has got a reprieve (why… we never come to know) and is heading back to the town intent on revenge.

Our man is almost on his way out when he learns about it and decides he has to stay back and confront his enemy. This decision even leads to a major fight with his newly-wedded wife.

The marshal goes around town to look for supporters but encounters only indifference and hostility from the very people he had put his life on risk to protect. I gave you a synopsis in the last post and was moving towards the climax but before that I want to go back a bit to a seminal point…. when our protagonist Will Kane, after being spurned by all, goes to the church to look for support.

~~Kane interrupts the Sunday service as the minister (Morgan Farley) reads scripture from the Book of Malachi, Chapter 4: “For behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven, and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedness shall be…”

The marshal is desperate for help – to find volunteers to be appointed as special deputies. He is curtly reminded that he didn’t “see fit” to be married in that church: “What could be so important to bring you here now?”

Kane simply replies: “I need help.” He admits that he isn’t “a church-going man,” and that he wasn’t married there – because his wife is a Quaker. “But I came here for help, because there are people here.”

He appeals to the church-going Christians about his dilemma: “It looks like Frank Miller’s comin’ back on the noon train. I need all the special deputies I can get.” 

A number of men impulsively step forward to volunteer, but are interrupted by Cooper (Harry Shannon), one of the members:
Before we go rushing out into something that ain’t gonna be so pleasant, let’s be sure we know what this is all about. What I want to know is this. Ain’t it true that Kane ain’t no longer Marshal? And ain’t it true there’s personal trouble between him and Miller?

Jonas Henderson clears the church of the children so they won’t have to witness the bickering church members voice their “difference(s) of opinion.”

A quick cut to the train station displays the train tracks stretching far out to the distant horizon – the camera is placed directly between the rails, awaiting the noon train.

Back in the church, Coy (Harry Harvey) blames the Northern politicians for their small-town problems: “Yes, we all know who Miller is, but we put him away once. And who saved him from hanging? The politicians up North. I say this is their mess. Let them take care of it.”

Another complacent church-goer named Sawyer (Tim Graham) reveals his lack of support: “We’ve been payin’ good money right along for a marshal and deputies. Now the first time there’s any trouble, we’re supposed to take care of it ourselves. Well, what have we been payin’ for all this time? I say we’re not peace officers. This ain’t our job!”

Another man: “I’ve been sayin’ right along, we ought to have more deputies. If we did, we wouldn’t be facin’ this thing now.”

Finally, an astonished Ezra (Tom Greenway) stands and admonishes the church gathering of self-serving, cowardly individuals:
“I can’t believe I’ve heard some of the things that have been said here. You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves. Sure, we paid this man and he was the best marshal this town ever had. It ain’t his trouble, it’s ours. I tell ya, if we don’t do what’s right, we’re gonna have plenty more trouble. So there ain’t but one thing to do now, and you all know what that is.”

To be continued….


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