High Noon – the film in which Montana’s Gary Cooper famously portrays a sheriff who stands alone against corruption as his town turns its back on it – is the subject of a new book by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Glenn Frankel, who tours Montana this week.
It’s a great western movie, but perhaps in history it will be remembered even more as a condemnation of the blacklisting that occurred during the 1950s when Hollywood was in the grips of the political witch hunt resulting from a national fear of communist infiltration in the industry.
Frankel will be in Montana March 28-31 on a four-city tour sponsored by the Montana Historical Society and its partner museums to talk about his acclaimed new book High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic.
The movie won four Academy Awards in 1953, including an Oscar for best actor for Cooper, a Helena native who was recently inducted into the 2016 class of the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame. Ironically, many of the political and industry leaders of what is now known as the Red Scare, praised the movie as a celebration of moral fortitude.
In the middle of the production of “High Noon,” screenwriter Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. He refused to “name names” and later was blacklisted in Hollywood. There are other interesting connections to victims of blacklisting that were involved in the production.
The new book also offers a sweeping look into Cooper’s career during one of the darkest periods in U.S. movie history.
Frankel, an author and journalist based in Arlington, Va., won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for “balanced and sensitive reporting” of Israel and the first Palestinian uprising. His latest book, The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, was a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller and a Library Journal Top Ten book for 2013.
“Glenn Frankel’s High Noon isn’t just everything you always wanted to know about an enduring classic; it’s a deeply insightful portrait of the forces in postwar America and in blacklist-era Hollywood that made the film such a powerful product of such a troubled moment,” writes author Mark Harris.
Here are the stops on Frankel’s Montana book tour:
- Great Falls: 7 p.m. March 28 at the C.M. Russell Museum
- Helena: 7 p.m. March 29 at the Montana Historical Society
- Bozeman: 7 p.m. March 30 at the Museum of the Rockies
- Billings: 6 p.m. March 31 at the Western Heritage Center
For details, call 406-444-4741 or visit montanahistoricalsociety.org.