To find your greatness
First find equal parts of will
And terrible rage
Eventually a whole lot of people are going to let you down. If you’re reading this you’re probably firmly entrenced in the middle class, you’re well fed, enjoy a drink now and then and have your fair share of Facebook “friends”. That’s in quotes because this world, our easy modern world and our extremely comfortable modern American one, that seeks purity by avoiding or covering up conflict secretly pollutes itself on a daily basis in doing so. By cowering from the muck we only gives ourselves up to sink slowly into it. We have more computer-based compadres than ever before but if a time comes when Lord willing you figure out something about yourself and then God forbid take a stand behind that new revelation the rats fleeing your ship, and your ”friends” list, will astound you.
In tough times, facing tough decisions most will tell you “tough luck” before moving on and that’s if they don’t stab you in the back themselves.
Supposedly High Noon is a Western for folks who don’t like Westerns but I love Westerns and enjoyed High Noon because of its non-traditional approach to facing down your tough times, and your foes, wherever it is you find them. Maybe it’s that lack of tradition casual fans appreciate or maybe it’s simply the fact that this film forgoes fantasy to slam a deliberately stark, colorless and hyper realistic world into our soon to be sore eye sockets.
High Noon. The very words conjure up moments of such grand importance like “hmmm, time for lunch” or “hey, it’s noon” and who could forget “shit, that dude I sent to jail is getting out and coming back to kill me!” We’ve all been there. And in High Noon Gary Cooper’s there too wandering just about every damn where all over town to assemble any assistance he can for a showdown that’s arriving on the twelve o’clock train. And with Hell gunnin’ for him, he’s letting heaven slip thorugh his hands. He just got married to Grace Kelly!
She’s a pacifistic Quaker (and some kind of Disney princess if you can believe Wikipedia which I never do unless it’s already something I want to believe!) and after years of dedicated service as town Marshal Willl Kane, Cooper is ready to retire and sow her sweet young oats. He’s all newly wed and resigned from his position when the bad news hits: Frank Miller’s on his way and that either means a shitty 300 sequel is about to be released or you’re going to die. Possibly from being forced to watch that horrible 300 sequel and certainly from being shot. So Gary does what he must. He walks.
There’s more walking in this movie than all the Lord of the Rings trilogy combined and as High Noon takes place in roughly real time you’ll get to see exactly how much walking one man can do in just over an hour.
Lots of lots.
You see so much studio backlot in High Noon that I wouldn’t have batted an eye if Bruce the shark had popped up at some point.
Bruce never did show but if he had oh I can tell you he would have heard Cooper’s conflicted cry for help and stood bravely by his side. Unlilke many of the townfucks. I didn’t spell that wrong. Most everyone in town is a full-on fuck. The film takes place in Hadleyville, New Mexico Territory but with the way all of Gary’s old friends and co-workers acted, in his time of desperate need, it might just as well have been set in Fuck-ville, New Fucks-ico Fuck-itory. I don’t even know how the marshal managed to stay so clean on his hour long errand due to the fact that no matter where he went he was always tip-toeing past huge pieces of shit. Even the people he found in church, not shocking I know, but it goes to show that those who preach the loudest usually don’t make a goddamn peep when it comes time to say something truly meaningful and then back it all up with courageous action. The second biggest kick into Marshal Kane’s beleaguered balls actually happens inside that twat filled tabernacle with one of the most unexpected, back handed compliments turned stunning bitch slaps of a speech I’ve ever seen. It was exceedingly subtle and performed to perfection by one of my old timey acting faves Thomas Mitchell (who I’m sure was Thufir Hawat in DUNE no matter what IMDB or logic says!)
Kane’s abandonement is brutal and complete and so brutally complete I was sure I’d get multiple commiserative bleeding ulcers and spend the rest of the day vomitting angry, angry blood. “Social Justice” can suck my dick with a side of politically correct dipping sauce, all you need is justice. No qualifiers necessary. And if it was going to happen the marshal was going to make it so all by himself.
After a little more walking of course.
And after all that Return of the King-like walking some metal gets tossed away in this one as well. The finale is both Phyrric and comforting. Fun fact: John Wayne hated this movie. Saw it as a veiled attack on McCarthyism but despite his reservations High Noon went on to be equally appreciated across the political spectrum counting among its fans Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower (he gave us the Interstate Highway System) and William Jefferson Clinton (he gave us flavored cigars.) Lots of folks seem to like this movie, I did, and maybe you will too. I’m know it has something to say, to anyone who gives it a good listen.
4 rounds in the cylinder for High Noon. This movie’s proven to be timeless and convey that timeless message that even if everyone you know turns out to be a fuck that doesn’t mean you have to become one too. Stand up and stand goddamn tall. That message resonated so much with one old Soviet satellite state that when it came time to to shove some Freedom up the collective Communist asshole this movie’s poster became a symbol of solidarity.
The people of Poland survived their own personal showdown at high noon one long ago day in the summer of 1989. They won their sovereignty and in the process stoked revolutionary fires that would burn totalitarian regimes to the ground all across Europe. Take that you Bolshevik bastards!
Sure picked a helluva day to stop sniffing glue! Or don’t. Sniff away! And drink and laugh and fuck and fight away while you’re at it. As long as it ain’t hurtin’ anyone, live as you fucking see fit. Marshal Kane is a mighty fine example of riding true if ever I saw one. In life, we will all have showdowns headed our way from time to time too amigos, only question is what we’re gonna do when they get here.
And when they do, may you have the courage and conviction to answer that question well and proper.
Bending in darkness
Leaves whip in the midnight rain
Sweet dreams will come soon
Almost forty now
Realizing what matters most
Not missing the rest
Who shot Liberty Valance?
No, I’m asking because I couldn’t tell. It was so dark and grainy and I think I sneezed or almost did. That’s the worst when you know you have to sneeze but then you try to stop it by doing that looking-at-the-light thing. The only reason that works is your body thinks that you’re trying to blind yourself (or worse) and it’s all like “fuck sneezing I want to live!” Ah life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s all anyone really wants right? Unless you’re the badguy and your name is Liberty and then man, how unexpected is that? The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance was full of the unexpected. It’ll be tough to review this one without giving away the twists and turns but I’ll do my best to be vague and obfuscatory in my explanations.
Which for me is hard.
My heart’s not just on my sleeve it’s beating hard and dripping all over the place or you if you get too close. And if you and I have a problem you’ll know about it. I’m not a “those people” or “a certain individual” abstract kind of social media participant. If you’re thinking “I must look like a piece of shit to him for what I done” you do because, in the name of vengeance, I just shit on you! And if you liked it you might love The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Lee Marvin star. The Duke doesn’t take any shit and James eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner while Marvin is usually the one serving him.
And in case Mr. Stutters is still hungry take note of a thirty-something Lee Van Cleef there backing his boss up with a full colon of his own. There are only three dudes in this gang but they manage to terrorize the whole territory which is already perched precariously on indecision heading into an election to decide either for or against statehood. Liberty and crew are causing a ruckus on behalf of the big time ranchers while John Wayne is doing his pretty standard standing up for the little guy routine. What wasn’t routine was this?
Holy fuck! Can you do that? I mean punch John Wayne in the face? I haven’t seen too many of his films so I can’t be sure but I thought that was borderline sacrilege like taking Jesus’ goddamn name in vain or something. Whether you’ve seen it before or not it was still shocking and necessary as that baby bird of a character was finally getting up the strength to leave the nest. Jimmy Stewart is a pacifistic attorney playing oppostite Wayne’s roughneck cowboy. And they both like the same girl. And she likes both of them but this movie isn’t called Three Way Indecisive Prairie Whore so she’s gonna have to choose at some point.
But who will it be?
Jimmy Stewart’s a good actor but damn I coulnd’t much stand his limp-kneed lawyer bit in this one. His vulnerability in Winchester 73 showed guts even behind that I-might-be-fucked look in his eyes. Stewart’s similar approach to the hesitant hero felt frail in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance even at the climax as if he didn’t even believe it himself. And when the guy you’re supposed to be rooting for doesn’t believe it, how are you supposed to? Or better, why should you? John Wayne along with Lee Marvin and his maniac sidekicks are all huge throbbing cocks of the walk strutting all over Stewart’s impotence. It’s offputting but perhaps that’s exactly what director John Ford wanted. Sergio Leone loved this film of Ford’s above any others because of the pessimism. I love pessismism in Westerns but when it’s a side dish to a main course of yellow fucking pussy that’s not a meal I’m likely to stomach. And that’s why at the end, once the big reveal revealed itself I was…
I didn’t particularly like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance but it did upset me so that’s something. A movie that makes you feel at least a little something is worth at least a little something. 3 rounds in the chamber this week for Liberty and all the pain and suffering he left in his wake. Even with Ford regulars rounding out the cast like John Carradine (convincing rich asshole rancher) and Woody Strode (convincing black guy) it’s not enough to soften the mighty kick in the balls this movie is. Andy Devine’s in it too and everything you loved about him in Stagecoach you’ll despise him for in this one. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance just beats you down from its ominous things to come opening right up to the very last line which just drives that disheartened stake home. It defintitely had something to say I just didn’t like much what I was hearing. Some of the folks rode true in this one and some folks simply didn’t.
Amigos, you and I both know the latter’s no way to go through life.