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Having always enjoyed and appreciated High Noon as a thoughtful and intelligent film I was interested in understanding the back story behind the film. You certainly get that and a whole lot more besides. It is one of the best descriptions of the cruelty and capricious nature of HUAC and the blacklist I have read. Indeed given the mendacity and insatiable hatred of the 're baiting' right, it is possible to forget that some of those singled out by HUAC were unapologetic Stalinists.
Still this surely represents the definitive account of High Noon and the fetid atmosphere out of which it emerged.
The award winning western movie has been considered a morality play or a masterpiece of the psychological western. Frankel tells the story of the conflict intertwined with screenwriter Carl Foreman who was under fire for not “playing ball” with the McCarthy committee and later blacklisted, and director Fred Zimmermann. Frankel also goes into depth about the acrimonious split with producer (and owner of United Artists) Stanley Kramer and Foreman. Frankel tells of the activities of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the industry politics that made the blacklist possible and its effect on the making of the movie “High Noon”. Frankel provides a most interesting background history of the innerworkings and politics of the movie industry particularly during the change over from silent to talking movies. The author paints a devastating picture of a powerful force crumbling under oppression. Kramer also hints that it was not only communism the committee was targeting but it was riddled with anti-Semitism.
Frankel makes extensive parallels of then and now particularly when he lays the blame at the feet of the press for their willingness to print the phony or exaggerated allegations of public officials and friendly witnesses without holding them up to scrutiny or challenging the assumptions. The author claims this gave Senator McCarthy a veneer of legitimacy. He then goes on to demonstrate how this effected Hollywood and the making of this movie.
The book is well written and meticulously researched. Frankel combed through the vast amount of testimony, depositions, and correspondence to document his findings. The author also describes the decades long battle for credit in the movie resulting from the effects of the McCarthy committee. This book is made more interesting considering today’s political activities.
The book is about fourteen and half hours long. Allan Robertson is a new narrator for me. He does a good job narrating the book.
12 of 12 people found this review helpful
The book was well-paced, interweaving the primary stories of Carl Foreman and Gary Cooper as well as many others involved in and subjecting to the blacklisting. My interest was kept from beginning to end. Much has been written about this period in our history but setting it against the back drop of "High Noon" made the subject more engaging. Franker does an excellent job in delving into Cooper and Foreman's backgrounds, careers and personalities so that the reader can better understand their actions and motivation. Excellent narration. Normally I only listen while driving but I couldn't wait to finish the book and listened to it constantly for a couple of days.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful