Western unrest: Genre and commerce in "High Noon"

Zoe Wallin

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


'High Noon' (Fred Zinnemann, 1952) is an iconic western, yet its place within the genre is contested. The film is cited by critics as exemplary of the way that westerns can successfully explore the political and social issues of the moment, and praised for the enduring, universal relevance of its themes. It is held by some to be one of the best western films ever made, but others criticise it as a betrayal of the genre. These mixed evaluations of High Noon stem from an interpretation of the film as a political allegory for the 1950s communist witch-hunts led by senator Joseph McCarthy, and from its innovative, stylistic temporal structure and use of real time. Yet when High Noon is considered in the context of 1950s Hollywood, these unconventional aspects of the film are revealed to be part of wider industrial trends for 'adult films', psychological westerns and explorations of marketable elements of social engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Specialist publicationScreen Education
PublisherAustralian Teachers of Media
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Motion pictures in the social sciences
  • Western films
  • Allegory
  • Motion pictures - production and direction
  • Suspense in motion pictures, television, etc.
  • Motion pictures - editing


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