I first saw High Noon in my “Film as Literature” class at Mercer Island H.S. senior year (Hello, Blaine Dollard!). Loaded with symbolism, this flick has been analyzed to death, but fortunately I’m just interested in the railroad bits — which makes for a more enjoyable review.
Huh? You say it won 10 Academy Awards and is not obscure? Bah! The REAL star of this high-falutin’ oater is Sierra Railroad #3 pulling its coaches past the Hadleyville depot. The rest of that final showdown jazz is mere window dressing.
Well then, let’s enjoy a railfan’s delight as the little 1891 Rogers-built, 4-6-0 trundles into town. Do not forsake me, oh my darling!
Belching an ominous plume of black smoke, Sierra #3 slowly approaches the water tower. This scene, and the one above of the depot, was filmed at Warnerville, California.
The studio constructed the two-story Hadleyville station just for this movie (Hat tip to Larry Jensen’s The Movie Railroads book).
Our first train scenes are 5 minutes into the picture. As the Station Master (played by Ted Stanhope) is transcribing messages from the clattering telegraph key, he looks up to see three henchmen. All sorts of trouble is gonna happen when their boss arrives on the noon train, so the S.M. hustles into town with the skinny.
Meanwhile Sheriff Will Kane (played by Gary Cooper) is getting hitched to the fetching Amy Fowler (played by Grace Kelly). About to embark on their honeymoon, Coop gets the bad news from the Station Master.
Hey, I know that guy (between Ted and Gary). That’s Pa O’Hara from Gone With The Wind!
The Henches settle down to wait. Amy (rahr-RAHR!) buys a ticket on the next train out of town, as a henchman leers in the background.
One of the henchmen walks into the shot by the tracks and takes a belt of the demon whiskey. That should improve his gun-handling skills. Out of booze, he heads into town for further libations providing us with a low-level view of a shed, water tower and two-story station.
Good detail shots of the depot including the bay window. Looking down the track, you can just make out a switch stand for a siding.
Most of the movie left off HERE
Cheesecake interlude. Katy Jurado (hubba-hubba!) plays Helen Ramírez, the woman with a checkered past, seen here toying with a young Lloyd Bridges and having a little heart-to-heart with Quaker Amy.
Holy crap, is it noon already? Time to gear up. Off come the spurs (that jingle, jangle, jingle…) and on go the gun belts, as we get our best view of the horsie shed across the tracks.
As the smirking henchmen watch with satisfaction, the Hadleyville Cannonball (Hedley!) smokes it up past the water tower. That’s Lee Van Cleef on the left, who built an entire career playing heavies and bad guys.
Grace and Katy (now kindred spirits) roll up to the depot in their buckboard. They are trackside with the station master and luggage as #3 pulls past.
The gang rushes to welcome their leader as we get a good view up and down the platform.
The consist of the train is all Sierra Railroad: 4-6-0 #3; “shorty” combine/coach #5; coach #2; and coach #6
As a lady, Amy is helped up the steps by the Station Master. As a fallen woman, well, Helen is on her own.
Best views of combine/coach #5 and coach #2.
Good detail views inside coach #2 as gunfire is heard coming from the town. Nice racks! (luggage).
As the conductor waves a highball, Grace hitches up her skirts and runs to be with her man. Atta, girl! Notice coach #2 is visibly sagging in the middle. Our final view is of a brakeman riding the steps of coach #6 as the train steams out of town.
This is our last train scene so I will just end my review here.
Oh, maybe just one more of Grace Kelly looking absolutely fabulous, dashing along the gravel platform in her heels. You GO, Girl!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about High Noon:
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