Skip to Content



*Post-film conversation with Maria Cooper, daughter of Gary Cooper, and Amanda Foreman, daughter of screenwriter Carl Foreman, moderated by Foster Hirsch.

U.S., 1952
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Katy Jurado, Lee Van Cleef
Screenplay by Carl Foreman
Approx. 85 min. DCP.

"Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin', on this, our weddin' day" — but there's more than nuptials ahead for retiring sheriff Gary Cooper: the noon train’s bringing revenge minded Ian MacDonald back from the pen, with three gun-packing henchmen including Spaghetti Western star-to-be Lee Van Cleef — as his welcoming committee. But of course his Quaker bride Grace Kelly knows he's got to stay and fight it out, and the townspeople will stand with him at the showdown — or will they? On just about everybody's checklist for Greatest Western Ever Made (and #1 of all time for presidents Reagan, Bush II... and Clinton), and at the same time a biting metaphorical indictment of McCarthyism (screenwriter Carl Foreman was blacklisted soon after). It's also a scintillatingly suspenseful screen experiment in "real time" (the screen story spanning only the same 85 minutes as the film, the effect reinforced by repeated close ups of inexorably ticking clocks), and, in the cold sweat forming on the hero's haggard face (Cooper used the bleeding ulcer he suffered during the shoot to help him win his second Academy Award), one of the screen's starkest portraits of fear and loneliness. Seven Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay, winning for Cooper, Editing, the legendary score by Russian expat Dimitri Tiomkin, and the Tiomkin/Ned Washington theme song warbled by Tex Ritter. Produced by Stanley Kramer and photographed by Floyd Crosby, father of rock legend David.


“STILL HAS THE POWER TO SHOCK. The film’s one-minute wordless montage leading up to the noon train whistle truly sears: a small, abstract masterpiece buried in the heart of mainstream myth making.”
– Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out

Film Forum