This is a day or two old, but it’s revealing, I think, when Bill Clinton tells Harvey Weinstein (who was guest-hosting for Piers Morgan) that he’s never given any thought about who might play him in a film. Not Brad Pitt (“too good looking”), he said. George Clooney “is at least more my size. He’s good-looking but, you know, you could put bulbous things on his nose and you could do makeup with him.”
The best Clinton so far has been John Travolta‘s in Primary Colors — he had that laid-back folksy charm. Dennis Quaid‘s Clinton was better than decent, I thought, in HBO’s The Special Relationship.
Clinton singled out High Noon as his all-time favorite film, having seen it “25 or 30 times.” Dwight D. Eisenhower was also a seious fan; I read somewhere that George Bush also swears by it. Clinton talks a bit more about High Noon on the two-disc special edition DVD that came out in ’08.
About five years ago I wrote that High Noon “is not about the Old West, obviously — it’s a metaphor movie about the Hollywood climate in the early ’50s — but it walks and talks like a western, and is angry, blunt, honed and unequivocal to that end. It’s about the very worst in people, and the best in a single, anxious, far-from-perfect man. I’m speaking of screenwriter-producer Carl Foreman, who was being eyeballed by the Hollywood right for alleged Communist ties when he wrote it, and receiving a very tough lesson in human nature in the process.
“Foreman wound up writing a crap-free movie that talks tough, cuts no slack and speaks with a single voice.
“You know from the get-go that High Noon is going to say something hard and fundamental about who and what we are. It’s not going to poke along some dusty trail and go yippie-ki-yay and twirl a six-gun. It’s going to look you in the eye and say what’s what, and not just about the political and moral climate in some small western town that Gary Cooper’s Willl Kane is the sheriff of.
“High Noon may seem a bit stodgy or conventional to some and perhaps not as excitingly cinematic to the elites, but it’s a far greater film than Rio Bravo.
“Both are about a lawman (Cooper in High Noon, John Wayne in Rio Bravo) facing up to bad guys who will kill him if he doesn’t arrest or kill them first. The similarities pretty much end there.
“High Noon is about facing very tough odds alone, and how you can’t finally trust anyone but yourself because most of your ‘friends’ and neighbors will equivocate or desert you when the going gets tough. Rio Bravo is about standing up to evil with your flawed but loyal pallies and nourishing their souls in the bargain — about doing what you can to help them become better men. This basically translates into everyone pitching in to help an alcoholic (Dean Martin) get straight and reclaim his self-respect. High Noon doesn’t need help. It’s about solitude, values…four o’clock in the morning courage.
“We’d all like to have loyal supportive friends by our side, but honestly, which represents the more realistic view of human nature? The more admirable?”