High Noon

  • by Glenn Frankel
  • Narrated by Allan Robertson
  • 14 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 32 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 favourite 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 coauthored 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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

The Blacklist

The award winning western movie has been considered a morality play or a masterpiece of the psychological western. Frankel tells the story of the conflict intertwined with screenwriter Carl Foreman who was under fire for not “playing ball” with the McCarthy committee and later blacklisted, and director Fred Zimmermann. Frankel also goes into depth about the acrimonious split with producer (and owner of United Artists) Stanley Kramer and Foreman. Frankel tells of the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the industry politics that made the blacklist possible and its effect on the making of the movie “High Noon”. Frankel provides a most interesting background history of the innerworkings and politics of the movie industry particularly during the change over from silent to talking movies. The author paints a devastating picture of a powerful force crumbling under oppression. Kramer also hints that it was not only communism the committee was targeting but it was riddled with anti-Semitism.

Frankel makes extensive parallels of then and now particularly when he lays the blame at the feet of the press for their willingness to print the phony or exaggerated allegations of public officials and friendly witnesses without holding them up to scrutiny or challenging the assumptions. The author claims this gave Senator McCarthy a veneer of legitimacy. He then goes on to demonstrate how this effected Hollywood and the making of this movie.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. Frankel combed through the vast amount of testimony, depositions, and correspondence to document his findings. The author also describes the decades long battle for credit in the movie resulting from the effects of the McCarthy committee. This book is made more interesting considering today’s political activities.

The book is about fourteen and half hours long. Allan Robertson is a new narrator for me. He does a good job narrating the book.
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- Jean

Compelling story, well told

What made the experience of listening to High Noon the most enjoyable?

It gave me a new perspective on a film that I've seen several times, perhaps lazily, not appreciating the full context or nuance of the time.

What was one of the most memorable moments of High Noon?

The book has several different elements, the origin stories of Cooper and Foreman, the specter of HUAC, the blacklist, the tenuous personal and professional relationships across political lines. But yet, one of the more entertaining chapters detailed the almost Rashomon-like accounts of writer Foreman, producer Kramer, director Zinnemann and editor Williams over which of them was the true genius who saved High Noon from obscurity.

Which scene was your favorite?

The above stated versions of each man taking credit for the film's success. And more generally, the detailing of the aftermath of choices made by significant players in dealing with HUAC... the ostracization of those who named names, and the blacklist, exile, and loss of credit for those who didn't.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

A bit of disappointment, but certainly not in the book. Only in the sense that we haven't seemed to have learned a lot in this country about what honor, integrity, or patriotism really mean.

Any additional comments?

I was intrigued by the topic, not exactly sure what to expect. But I'm glad I picked it.

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- Buretto

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-21-2017
  • Publisher: Audible Studios