RTF screening of High Noon fosters discussion in Austin film community

Jeremy Thomas

Members the Austin film community discussed the historical context and various cinematic techniques of the 1952 Hollywood Western High Noon for the Radio-Television-Film’s Community Screening series at the Belo Center for New Media on Thursday.

Led by professor Charles Ramírez Berg, Thursday’s screening was the first community screening presented by the RTF department. The community screening involved RTF faculty members who select some of their favorite films for display to the public.

High Noon stars Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado. The film won four Academy Awards. Berg said the film’s release was marked by controversy because of the issues that dealt with the Red Scare and the investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. 

“It became an issue in this film because the co-producer and screenwriter of this film, Carl Foreman, was called before the committee in the middle of the film’s production. He had joined the [Communist] party, eventually quit but had to say he was a member of the Communist party. He refused to give the committee names of other Communists and therefore he became persona non grata in Hollywood.”

Berg said the screenwriter’s experiences with the committee helped Foreman to infuse his emotions into the script.

RTF sophomore Aden Wexberg said the courageous efforts of those who worked on the film allows him to continue to watch the film.

“It’s really cool to see a blacklisted artist stare that sort of opposition in the face and still keep going with it,” Wexberg said. “Every time I think what keeps me coming back is the courage of Will Kane because it sort of reminds me of ‘The Crucible’ and how it responds to McCarthyism.“

After RTF sophomore Graham Carter watched the film for the second time, he said he learned more about it from Ramírez. 

“Dr. Ramírez knows a lot about the film,” Carter said. “He is obviously very passionate about it.”

There are three other screenings scheduled by the department. RTF Professor Caroline Frick is scheduled to present ‘The Big Sleep’ on March 21. In a co-sponsored event with the Journalism Department, on April 3 the director of that department, Glenn Frankel, plans to present ‘The Searchers’. RTF professor Richard Lewis will round out the screenings series on April 18 as he is slated to present ‘A Shock to the System.’