HIGH NOON by Abidan Paul Shah, Henderson, NC
(This article was published in the local newspaper The Daily Dispatch on 11/2/14)
In our home if “High Noon” is on TV then it doesn’t matter what else is on! It is one of my favorite westerns that the rest of the family also loves or…so they pretend! Gary Cooper plays Will Kane, marshal of Hadleyville, New Mexico territory, who decides to give up his lawman days and marry Amy Fowler, played by Grace Kelly. No sooner does he turn in his badge that word arrives that the outlaw Frank Miller, whom Kane had captured, has been set free on technicality. As Kane is getting ready to ride off with his new bride, Miller is coming on the noon train to get revenge. The townspeople beg Kane to leave town immediately and not look back. After all, he was no longer the marshal and it was no longer his problem. But Kane is not the type to run away. He turns back, reclaims his badge, and tries to recruit some help from the townspeople. Much to his surprise – one by one they begin to make excuses, hide behind their wives, question his motives, and some are no where to be found! In the end Kane has to fight Miller and his gang alone, with only his wife to help in the very end.
Why is this movie such an All Time Classic? Is it the Oscar-winning performance? Is it the real time cinematography? I think the real answer lies in the noble ideals in the storyline – justice, honor, duty, conviction, and courage – qualities that symbolize the American spirit. While the townspeople are scramming or rolling over and playing dead, the lone hero is willing to stand his ground. He even betrays signs of apprehension – a good reminder that standing for one’s convictions does not mean the absence of fear. Kane’s motives become clear in the final scene when the townspeople come out of hiding to congratulate and he does not say a word but throws the marshal’s star in the dirt and rides off with his wife. What a challenge for us to take our stand and not run from our convictions! Unfortunately, we are living in a time when people are retreating politically, economically, defensively, and morally, and the Frank Millers keep coming. Our generation needs some Kanes who will go against the flow and do what is right, even if they have to do it all alone.
But here’s a caution – As much as I love “High Noon,” I also see the potential for misunderstanding it. One – taking a stand doesn’t mean being stuck in our ways, being bull-headed, and unwilling to change. Such behavior is another name for cowardice. Neither does it mean to be hateful and arrogant. 2 Corinthians 10 reminds us that, “though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds.” Our weapons should be truth, love, and faith. We should stand our ground on the truth of biblical convictions regarding life, morality, and patriotism but do it in an attitude of love and compassion. It’s no use blaming the politician, the judges, or the entertainment industry. It’s too late for that! It’s time to engage our culture for Christ in a manner that will change our course. We should have the faith that we can leave this world a better place – fiscally, defensively, morally, and spiritually – for our children and our grandchildren.
Someone might say – “We’ve gone too far to turn the tide.” My challenge for you is to study history. We’ve been here before. Every time a single individual (man or woman, boy or girl) took seriously Christ’s command to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, the day was saved.