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Artisan Home Entertainment presents
High Noon: CE (2000)

Frank: I got five men to ride with me.
Will: You must be paying them well.
Frank: I'm not paying them a dime. They just came along to watch you bleed.

- Michael Madsen, Tom Skeritt

Review By: Dan Heaton   
Published: June 13, 2001

Stars: Tom Skeritt, Susanna Thompson, Michael Madsen
Other Stars: Reed Diamond, Maria Conchita Alonso, Dennis Weaver
Director: Rod Hardy

Manufacturer: Wamo
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some violence and a scene of sensuality
Run Time: 01h:32m:30s
Release Date: June 19, 2001
UPC: 012236118602
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ CB+A- B-

DVD Review

Will Kane (Tom Skeritt) strolls down the muddy streets of an isolated town without another soul in sight. The noon train has arrived, and imminent death approaches on horseback in the form of six vicious gunmen. Even without aid from his friends, the marshal faces the incoming deluge with a stern resolve to do the right thing. Instead of fleeing and saving his life, Kane will stand up to the men who threaten him and the town he swore to protect. But is he actually doing the right thing? This question dominates High Noon‹a cable television remake of the 1952 Gary Cooper classic that attempts to present the story to a new audience unfamiliar with the original.

The story of this version closely follows the original screenplay by Carl Foreman and adds little innovation or new moments of interest. This spurs a pivotal question: Why remake High Noon without trying to incorporate some original ideas? Director Rod Hardy (Two for Texas, Buffalo Girls) believes that they have made the events "edgier" and given them a more contemporary feel, but nothing feels fresh or exciting in this film. One brief sexual moment occurs, and the final gunfight extends for a lengthier period, but that still fails to remove the air of familiarity and dullness from this production. Itıs a by-the-numbers creation that takes few chances and becomes a predictable mess of clichés and bland confrontations.

For readers unfamiliar with the story, it begins with lawman Will Kane marrying Amy (Susanna Thompson of Once and Again) and preparing to move on to a relaxed family life. Unfortunately, past nemesis Frank Miller (Michael Madsen) has been pardoned by the government and seeks bitter revenge against Kane. Millerıs recruited a few old comrades, and is arriving on the noon train to settle matters in an extremely final manner. This gives Kane only a little more than an hour to either escape the town or decide to face Miller and his men. Taking place in real time, the story follows Willıs attempts to gather a posse from the town to stand up to them. Through his efforts, Kane presents a true version of courage and honor in the face of dreadful odds.

In 1981, Peter Hyamsı Outland provided a fascinating turn on the High Noon story by placing it into a bleak, futuristic science-fiction world. Although it varied considerably in terms of the particulars, this movie held onto the concept of the heroic figure standing up to evil when no one else will. Sean Connery gave one of his most underrated performances in the lead role and made his character three-dimensional and interesting. Hyams used elements of the original plot and created his own intriguing world. Unfortunately, this new television version contains little of this form of innovation. Tom Skeritt has a nice screen presence, but his character is wooden and uninteresting. He appears to be standing up to Miller only because itıs written into the script this way. Where is the conflict between them? The emotional side of Kane is lacking, and I cared little about whether he survived the final battle. The blame falls slightly on Skeritt, but mostly lies with T.S. Cook, who couldnıt create the compelling person necessary to carry the film.

While Skeritt falls short of depicting an intriguing character, he fares much better than most of the supporting cast. The two major culprits in this failure are Reed Diamond (Homicide: Life on the Street) and Maria Conchita Alonso (Caught). Diamond performed impressively as troubled detective Mike Kellerman on Homicide, but he appears to be playing basically the same role in this story as Kane's deputy, Harvey Pell. He spends the entire picture brooding, and this gives us little insight into his motivations and thoughts. Alonso invokes limited excitement as the worldly Helen Ramirez, and her words come off flat and uninspired. Kane supposedly loved this woman, but any chemistry is virtually nonexistent during their scenes together. Finally, Western veteran Dennis Weaver (Gunsmoke barely registers a blip with an extremely underwritten performance. His role as Kaneıs mentor doesnıt really come across, and this seriously undermines the movie's success.

While High Noon falls far short of compelling drama, it avoids being a complete failure through several interesting moments and some impressive scenery. During the final gunfight, director of photography Robert McLachlan used nice innovation of an altered shutter speed to create a sharp, jittery feel. This effect was recently used in Gladiator's opening battle scene, and it generates a chaotic feel within the action. Another well-done scene occurs in the town church as Kane asked for help from the local citizens. Although their verdict is the same, each character offers a different viewpoint, and it reveals the promise hidden within this material. Filmed in the Canadian countryside near Calgary, the set is surrounded by breathtaking mountains that add to the atmosphere of the story. When the camera pans back into a long shot of the town, the shot works effectively to contrast Kaneıs isolation with this picturesque world. Although these highlights save the film from utter disaster, it still struggles to retain excitement over more than a short period. The overall effect is sheer boredom, with only a few worthwhile elements included over a brief running time.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: C

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: High Noon's 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features several amazing long shots of outdoor scenery that showcase an array of impressive colors. One particularly breathtaking shot has the villainous gunmen riding into town with a huge mountain looming in the background. The color levels of this shot are perfect and really heighten the Western atmosphere. Unfortunately, the indoor shots don't hold up as well and lack the pristine focus under darker conditions. The events are still clear with few defects, but the picture lacks the definition of the brighter outdoor shots. Overall, this transfer works nicely and contains a few sparkling instances of top-notch clarity and brightness.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoSpanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: One highlight of this disc is the nearly pristine and powerful 5.1-channel Dolby Digital transfer. From the first few melodic bars of the score during the opening credits, it's clear that this audio track won't disappoint. The sounds are clear and lush, and it showcases the emotional moments of the story. The obvious highlight in terms of sound is the final gun battle. During one moment, glass shatters impressively from every direction of the sound field as Will Kane hides for his life in a local store. The only hindrance to this transfer is the predominance of dialogue in the story until the final gunfight. While it isn't always tested, this track stands out as a level above the rest of this Artisan DVD.

This disc also includes a 2.0-channel Dolby Surround transfer and a dubbed Spanish track.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
Cast and Crew Biographies
Cast and Crew Filmographies
1 Original Trailer(s)
2 TV Spots/Teasers
Production Notes
3 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Executive Producer David A. Rosemont and Director of Photography Rober McLachlan
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Cast and crew interviews
  2. Photo gallery
Extras Review: This Collector's Edition of High Noon features an impressive list of extras, but much of the material falls into the "fluff" category, and the result is only mediocre. The disc contains three behind-the-scenes featurettes, but their combined running time falls short of six minutes. The first one covers the extremely basic elements of the story with a few production shots and brief scenes from the film. The next section concerns the wardrobe for the film and specifically focuses on the wedding dress worn by Susanna Thompson. It's interesting, but only lasts for about a minute, so the material is limited. The highlight of the three is a montage of "On Location" video that presents various aspects of filming, including the creation of the final gunfight. It shows the complexity (and silliness) involved in shooting an action scene and is fairly engaging over its brief time.

The most prominent bonus feature is a commentary track from executive producer David A. Rosemont and director of photography Robert McLachlan. While it would have been more engaging to hear from director Rod Hardy or screenwriter T.S. Cook, they do provide a nice discussion of various aspects of the movie. Both men really love the film and are extremely proud of the film, and they canıt see any problems with remaking the original classic. I found it interesting to learn about a major snowstorm that threatened to shut down the production in Canada. In fact, several of the final scenes were shot in a different location due to the inclement weather and then disguised through editing. Rosemont and McLachlan do offer plenty of information, but this track just isn't very enjoyable. They're both pretty dry speakers, and this film isn't the type to generate fascinating discussion.

Another section that sounds more interesting than the final result is the collection of interviews with the major stars and director. These brief vignettes appear in a poor, full-frame transfer with low sound quality. They all run less than two minutes each, and the discussions are fairly basic ones about the story and characters. A few noteworthy items pop up, but most of the material is simple descriptions of each role by the actors.

One high point is the cast and crew biographies, which are nicely detailed with extensive filmographies. They include entries for the seven main actors, plus the director and screenwriters. This disc also contains a fairly useless photo gallery with 12 pictures‹primarily of actors posing for the camera. Finally, we have the widescreen original theatrical trailer and two full-screen television spots.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Originally airing on TBS, High Noon features the underwritten characters and mediocre screenplay often inherent in television movies. Sadly, this film must be held to a much higher standard because it is attempting to remake a classic story. Due to a lack of originality and an unwillingness to take chances, this version fails and generates only a dull whimper.

 


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