A seemingly unusual cast includes Gary Cooper ("Sergeant York", "Pride of the Yankees") as the good-guy out-going marshall, Grace Kelly ("Rear Window") as his new wife, Lloyd Bridges ("Sea Hunt", "Airplane") as the deputy, Lee Van Cleef (the "bad" of "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly") as one silent badguy, Lon Chaney ("The Wolfman"), and Henry Morgan ("MASH").
The movie proceeds in nearly real time - it starts about 10:30 AM and ends shortly after noon - and clocks are increasingly prominent in nearly every scene. The leader of the badmen, Frank Miller, who was sent to prison by the marshall under a death sentence but was released, is now coming to town on the noon train to kill marshall Kane. Three of his friends are waiting at the station to greet and assist him in killing the marshall. That same morning, Kane is getting married to a violence-abhoring Quaker woman and is going to give up being marshall because of it. After learning Frank Miller is coming to town, the wife convinces Cane to essentially skip town and they leave, but the marshall gets his sense of duty back and returns to town. He and his wife argue, and she is determined to leave on the noon train. The judge also packs his things and leaves town. The marshall's deputy also quits. Kane goes around town trying to organize a posse, but only one capable man volunteers (the other is a one-eyed drunk) but he subsequently backs out.
Cane is forced to face the men alone. I won't spoil the ending.
At a time when movies (even bad ones) were being made in color, "High Noon" was shot in black-and-white, trying to get an unglamorous look to it modeled after Matthew Brady's photographs of the civil war, and succeeds. There is no beautiful sky and clouds, or cactus and sunsets. It is great cinematography however. Oscars for Best Actor, Editing, Song and Score.
Reasonably-priced DVD picture and sound are good. It has an average commentary by daughter of actor, son of singer, son of writer and son of director. Also has a short documentary, a fair behind-the-scenes, and a 5-plus minute radio interview with singer Tex Ritter.
The high noon dvd is presented in full frame format since the film was not shot in widescreen. Picture is amazing for a film that is over 50 years old. Contrast and sharpness are gorgeous and the print is one of the best of a film of this age. Sharpness is truly stunning. Shimmering and flicker is present on some objects and there are occasional tiny spots on the image. The spots were so small and infrequent i didn't even notice them ever until a second viewing. Shimmering on trees is present quite a bit especially if you have a cheaper dvd player. These are minor points, because i was stunned at the beauty of the tranfer.
Sound is presented in regular and enchanced audio. Regular sometimes has cooper's dialogue a little low. Enchanced has more kick, but they may have toyed with the original mix. A commentary is including with relatives of the cast and crew. I didn't listen to all of it, it is presented in a group conversational manner.
Extras are interesting with a informative leonard maltin backstory on the film. I'm not a maltin fan and find his narration annoying, but he points out intriguing notes on the film's production. The best part is oncamera interviews from several years ago with zinneman and other real cast/crew member. Zinneman tells a great story about how the train ran over the camera when they were shooting the railroad track shots. Also another weird note is that the cinematography floyd crosby is david crosby's father! David is interviewed about his dad's work. A new series of interviews are collected with the surviving children of the cast/crew in the "behind" doc. Cooper's daughter is very obviously reading a teleprompt and i quit watching at that point. There is a radio show with tex ritter, he talks about having never played the bad guy and being in 80 westerns. I didn't finish the show.
The movie is by my money the best western ever made because of its extraordinary concise editing and fat free storytelling. The dvd is great with knock out picture for a film over 50 years old and a good documentary on the making of.