SECOND LOOK: 'High Noon' and 'Rocky' remain inspirational movies

Published on Wednesday, 27 June 2018 19:43
Written by ART SECONDO

If you have never watched the 1952 movie “High Noon”, you’ve missed an opportunity to see a classic portrayal of loyalty, courage, loneliness and a lesson in individual inspiration. “High Noon” and the first “Rocky” (1976) film were the kinds of movies that revealed an inner spirit in its characters that motivated those in the audience who were able to comprehend the story-lines.

“High Noon” was and remains a classic western. Starring 51-year old Gary Cooper and 22 year- old Grace Kelley in her first movie, the plot was typical good versus bad. The movie was bolstered by the late decision to include the accompanying song, “Do not forsake me, oh my darling”, sung by Tex Ritter. The plot was centered on a small-town Marshal standing steadfast for what he believed was the right thing in the small western town of Hadleyville.

For years, the movie captured the emotions of the audiences with tastes of personal bravery against the odds. Marshal Will Kane, torn between duty and love, faced four gunmen by himself as townspeople hid from the imminent dangers of gunfire and possible death. The plot thickened as a train arrived at high noon with gunslinger Frank Miller, was seeking revenge for being sent to prison by Marshal Kane. Miller left the train with an avenging look as his companions, loyally waited at the station to avoid Marshal Kane. They then all tightened their gun-belts and headed into town.

The movie’s plot goes on for several hours before the camera eventually settled on the sheriff’s wall clock at noon. The lonely Will Kane, with no wife at hand and no deputies and townspeople to help, stood sadly and quite afraid in the middle of the street as the music of composer Dimitri Tiomkin played. Kane had composed his last will with moist eyes while sitting at his desk just before noon.

The “Rocky” movies, filmed more than 23 years later, became an anthem among the male audience as an inspiration to be tough and stronger than your opponent. Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, emerged as a new champion in the boxing ring, not due to his athletic ability, but because of his driving desire to prove he belonged in the ring with a cocky champion who believed the Italian Stallion was nothing more than a Philadelphia loser.

Both actors, Cooper and Stallone, were inserted into roles that would trigger a few tears, cheers and a feel-good mood. In “High Noon”, Cooper was victorious and as he and his new wife climbed into a wagon and departed into movie history. Stallone defeated the reigning champion, yelled for his wife with blood streaming from his eye as the “Rocky” theme heralded the new hero and would be the anthem of the next five films.

These two movies, aided by accompanying outstanding music, provided audiences with a sense of personal belief that overcoming the odds of defeat was and is possible. Younger people would be elevated in momentum outside the theater, copying the exploits of the Italian Stallone or imitating the brave but dubious lawman of Hadleyville. Gary Cooper, already a star actor, didn’t need more adoration but Stallone made his acting career with “Rocky” movies.

Movies like “High Noon” and the original “Rocky” are among Hollywood’s best works. Made and produced in an era when audiences begged for heroes who took on evil and were victorious, would later see Hollywood release scary movies that delved deep into our fear of death and the unknown evils.

I was touched by both films and the movie of the 1836 Alamo siege is also be etched in my mind and remain a true classic.

The “Alamo” (1960) revealed the bravery and deaths of 186 men against 3,000 of the enemy with little or no chance to escape or beg for mercy. The simple words of Davy Crockett (played by John Wayne) showed what good, strong men are made of. Encouraged to escape over the Alamo wall hours before imminent death, Crockett declined, noting that his brave reputation that preceded him would not allow such a n embarrassing deed.

Movies come and go. Some we deem disappointing and others entertaining and some, historical. Yet, while films on the big screen become so unreal and comical that the anticipation level is gone, we search for movies that show life’s circumstances beyond our daily lives. War movies and those of criminal violence are better received when they are historical in nature like “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967) or the “Battle of Midway” (1976).

According to experts, people spend their lives working, taking care of families and basically just fulfilling obligations. Watching a movie gives us a chance to escape reality. Being absorbed in a film you can become one of the characters, live their lives and experience something that you would never be able to do otherwise. In conclusion, some movies are worth the ticket cost.

Posted in New Britain Herald, Southington Herald on Wednesday, 27 June 2018 19:43. Updated: Wednesday, 27 June 2018 19:45.