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

Continuing the “High Noon” saga…… And Marshal Will Kane’s efforts to gather some support from parishioners in the town’s church.

Jimmy Trumbull (John Doucette) angrily denounces the Marshal: “This whole thing’s been handled wrong. Here’s those three killers walking the streets bold as brass. Why didn’t you arrest ’em, Marshal? Why didn’t you put ’em in jail where they ought to be? Then we’d only have Miller to worry about instead of the four of ’em.”

Kane responds to the challenge: “I haven’t anything to arrest them for, Mr. Trumbull. They haven’t done anything. There’s no law against them sittin’ on a bench at the depot.”

One of the exasperated female parishoners stands and berates the pious, hypocritical citizens for not bolstering support for civilization – symbolized by decent women and children who will become the future generation:
“What’s the matter with you people? Don’t you remember when a decent woman couldn’t walk down the street in broad daylight? Don’t you remember when this wasn’t a fit place to bring up a child? How can you sit here and talk and talk and talk like this?”

When “times getting short,” the non-activist minister turns to the Bible for guidance: “The commandments say, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ but we hire men to go out and do it for us. The right and the wrong seem pretty clear here. But if you’re asking me to tell my people to go out and kill and maybe get themselves killed, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry.”

Jonas Henderson sums up the debate by first complimenting Kane:

“What this town owes Will Kane here it can never pay with money – and don’t ever forget it. He’s the best marshal we ever had, maybe the best marshal we’ll ever have. So if Miller comes back here today, it’s our problem, not his. It’s our problem because this is our town. We made it with our own hands out of nothing. And if we want to keep it decent, keep it growing, we’ve got to think mighty clear here today. And we’ve gotta have the courage to do what we think is right no matter how hard it is.”

But even as these words appear promising, they are soon belied. 

While Henderson believes Miller is the town’s concern and problem, he notes a violent shoot-out would also create a bad image for Hadleyville up north, especially for financial growth and investment support from northern business interests:
“There’s gonna be fighting when Kane and Miller meet and somebody’s gonna get hurt, that’s for sure. Now, people up North are thinking about this town – thinking mighty hard, thinking about sending money down here to put up stores and to build factories. It’ll mean a lot to this town, an awful lot. But if they’re gonna read about shooting and killing in the streets, what are they gonna think then? I’ll tell ya. They’re gonna think this is just another wide-open town and everything we worked for will be wiped out. In one day, this town will be set back five years. And I don’t think we can let that happen.”

And so, because of the necessity of the town’s commercial self-interests and the preservation of public relations, respectable businessman Henderson advises Kane (“a mighty brave man, a good man”) to flee town for the good of the local economy:
“He didn’t have to come back here today. But for his sake and the sake of this town, I wish he hadn’t. Because if he’s not here when Miller comes, my hunch is there won’t be any trouble, not one bit. Tomorrow, we’ll have a new Marshal and if we can all agree here to offer him our services, I think we can handle anything that comes along. And to me, that makes sense. To me, that’s the only way out of this. Will, I think you’d better go while there’s still time. It’s better for you and it’s better for us.”

(See…..)

Kane leaves the church empty-handed after a quickly-spoken “Thanks.”

As Kane – with his options dwindling fast – strides through the town on another round [many of these repetitive scenes are shot from a low-angle], he encounters young boys enacting a shoot-out. During the play-acting, one youngster shouts out: “Bang, bang, you’re dead, Kane.” (This was particularly encouraging).

To be continued…..

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