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Remind Me

HIGH NOON (1952)

The Big Idea Behind HIGH NOON

Producer Stanley Kramer and writer Carl Foreman had both read John Cunningham's short story "The Tin Star" in Harper's> magazine and decided to option it for a joint film project. The two men decided to call the film High Noon, which had once been the temporary working title for Home of the Brave (1949), a previous film produced by Kramer with a screenplay by Foreman. But it was the latter, not Kramer, who actually negotiated the screen rights to Cunningham's short story. If Kramer had bought the story, the rights would have undoubtedly cost much more than the $25,000 that Foreman paid because Kramer was a well-known Hollywood producer among publishing circles.

Director Fred Zinnemann read the first draft of the script once he was offered the chance to direct. Immediately, he thought it "nothing short of a masterpiece - brilliant, exciting and novel in its approach."

The entire script was designed by Carl Foreman and Stanley Kramer to take place in the exact screening time of the film, less than ninety minutes.

According to author Anthony Holden in his book, Behind the Oscar, Foreman "was summoned to Washington - where he took the Fifth Amendment - during the filming of his script for High Noon. Knowing that he would be blacklisted as soon as the film was finished, Foreman arrived back on the set 'frightened but inspired;' he proceeded to write in a number of scenes mirroring the witch-hunt, and attacking America's (and Hollywood's) reluctance to stand up to HUAC's bullying tactics. 'Much that was in the script seemed comparable to what was happening,' he said. Friends had dropped him; people would turn away when they saw him in the street. 'My associates were afraid for themselves - I don't blame them - and tried to get me off the film, unsuccessfully. They went to Gary Cooper and he refused (to go along with them). Fred Zinnemann was very staunch and very loyal, and so was our backer, Bruce Church. There are scenes in the film that are taken from life. The scene in the church is a distillation of meetings I had with partners, associates and lawyers. And there's the scene with the man who offers to help and comes back with his gun and asks, 'Where are the others?' And Cooper says, 'There are no others.' 'I became the Cooper character,' said Foreman. High Noon's producer, Stanley Kramer, joined Cooper and Zinnemann in approving what Foreman was up to. Once the news leaked around town, however, John Wayne and Hedda Hopper were among the first to launch public attacks on Foreman, Hopper urging that 'he never be hired again.' Fearing for his production company, Kramer publicly dissociated himself from the writer, causing a rift between the two men that would last into the 1980s.'

By Scott McGee & Jeff Stafford

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