Synopses & Reviews
From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Searchers, the revelatory story behind the classic movie High Noon and the toxic political climate in which it was created.
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 idea to first draft to final script, taking on allegorical weight. Both the classic film and its turbulent political times emerge newly illuminated.
"Frankel paints a devastating picture of a powerful force crumbling under oppression — a cautionary tale in borrowed cowboy hats.... High Noon is a sharp social history that reminds us just how common for a broken system to abuse its power and cause deep human damage — the worst is coming, any second — but also that a little cynicism can be useful. Kane defends a worthless city; Kane wins. There are no clean endings, except in the movies." NPR.org
"Frankel reviews the now familiar history of the blacklist with grace and accuracy; his descriptions of witness testimony are particularly vivid.... Fascinating." The Los Angeles Times
"Though Frankel began this sumptuous history long before the latest election, he ends up reminding us that 2016 was far from the first time that politicians trafficked in lies and fear, and showing us how, nonetheless, people of integrity came together to do exemplary work." Washington Post
"Glenn Frankel comes to his subject with a widely praised book about John Ford's The Searchers and an impressive resume in journalism, including a Pulitzer Prize. Although much of Frankel's material is familiar, the blacklist is a gift that keeps on giving... Frankel narrates this story well. He has a sure ear for the telling anecdote, and a good eye for detail." The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Glenn Frankel worked for many years for the Washington Post, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1989, and taught journalism at Stanford University and the University of Texas at Austin, where he directed the School of Journalism. He has won the National Jewish Book Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His most recent book, The Searchers, was a national bestseller and named one of Library Journal's top ten books of 2013. He lives in Arlington, Virginia.