From Noon till Three (1976)
I’m not usually one for a comedy-western, feeling that they lack what I find in a straight western. However that was before I read up about this clever little film that comments on the genre, which needs to take the form of a comedy to be effective. From Noon till Three (1976) takes on the origins of the genre, which has been formed on the creation of a legend, or the tale of events, when Graham Dorsey (Charles Bronson) arrives at a widow’s house along with his gang of bank robbers before another job.
Taking the opportunity to escape from his fate as a dead man he makes advances on the lone woman Amanda (Jill Ireland) who has been living in a museum for her late husband, restricting her behavior. Laying on the charm, they fall madly in love whilst the robbery takes place, forcing them to make the best of their time together.
With word of a hanging of his friends back in the town Amanda wants him to be the gallant man who ride off and save the day. And so begins the romantic legend that she cashes in on, wanting to remember her lover, who caused her to awaken from her mourning. Graham’s supposed death raises him to the level of romantic hero, with a few narrative touches that make him more adored by the loving audiences who take the tale of his passions. This mirrors how the history of Frontier America has been blurred by the fictions of pulp books and tall tales based on the events of the day. Audiences feeding on these sensationalized stories, that has been translated to the following century when cinema ate up these tales for the big screen and even bigger audiences.
The film also sees how this profiteering and selling of his life can destroy him, unable to tell the truth as it has been blurred for profit. I’m reminded of the stage play that toured america that depicted in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) that saw Robert Ford along with his brother play-out the closing moments of the gunfighter’s life. Which in-turn had an effect on his life, and eventual demise. When the truth is blurred we lose sight of what is fact and fiction, the fiction by the strength of its popularity becomes fact. Again seen in the earlier The Man who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) that preferred the legend of one mans fall to how it really happened, taking the glory from a better man. Yet allowed Ransom Stoddard (James Stewart) to be elected to public office, a man who is believed to have stood up to the bad guys, a people’s hero. So in some cases may it be better than the truth to be hidden if it allows something good to come out of it? Or does hiding the truth hurt someone, I guess it depends on the situation, no set rule can used to decide what is right.
In the case of film and fiction, the most entertaining version sometimes becomes the truth as it’s easier to swallow and believe. How much can we swallow before we want to know what really happened. Which is a current issue that is surrounding a number of Oscar contenders, such as Argo (2012) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012) which blur the truth for purposes of entertainment. If we want the truth, are we to seek it out our selves, or do we accept a filmmakers interpreation and vision, and understand its a loose version of the events. Films at the end of the day are forms of entertainment, they are not meant to be informing us, that’s not their intention, unless they choose to be, which is the choice of the director. Using real-life events as a backdrop to tell a story, and a story is all we want sometimes.
- From Noon Till Three (1976) (every70smovie.blogspot.co.uk)