High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic
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High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic

High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic

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Autry Museum of the American West

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027

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High Noon, one of the best-loved films of Hollywood’s golden age, is more than just an archetypal Western: it’s also a parable about the Hollywood blacklist. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells the story of some of Hollywood’s most gifted artists—screenwriter Carl Foreman, producer Stanley Kramer, director Fred Zinnemann, and actor Gary Cooper among them—and how their creative partnership was both influenced and crushed by political repression.

Presentation followed by a book signing.

Includes museum admission.




About High Noon
High Noon,
starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, has become embedded in our culture and our national memory. It is a story that features all the archetypal traits of Western machismo—loyalty, courage, and determination against evil—and it’s one of the best-loved films of Hollywood’s golden age. The lesser known story is that it was written by Carl Foreman, a former Communist who intended it to be a parable about the Hollywood blacklist. This is the story that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Frankel tells in High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic.

While making the film, Carl Foreman was forced to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities about his former membership in the Communist Party. When he refused to name names of fellow party members, he was fired by his friend and business partner, Stanley Kramer. Gary Cooper tried to come to Foreman’s defense, but the screenwriter was blacklisted and forced into self-imposed exile. John Wayne, one of the leaders of the movement to cleanse Hollywood of purported Communists, later said he would “never regret having helped run Foreman out of this country.”

With the help of Frankel’s expert journalistic eye, we see that Carl Foreman, like the hero in High Noon, felt alone and abandoned by his friends—as though he was facing down a vengeful gang on his own. It was Foreman’s experience of being a target of the Red Scare that inspired the film, and one of Hollywood’s most iconic images: a lone lawman walking down a deserted street toward a showdown with four armed killers.

Ultimately, this is the story of some of Hollywood’s most gifted artists—Carl Foreman, Stanley Kramer, director Fred Zinnemann, and Gary Cooper among them—and how their creative partnership was both influenced and crushed by political repression.




GLENN FRANKEL is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, university professor, and author of The Searchers: The Making of an American Legend, a New York Times and Los Angeles Times bestseller. He was director of the School of Journalism at the University of Texas at Austin and a visiting professor at Stanford University. Before that, he was a longtime Washington Post reporter, editor and bureau chief in London, Southern Africa and Jerusalem, where he won the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for “balanced and sensitive reporting” of Israel and the first Palestinian uprising. He also served as editor of the Washington Post Magazine. His first book, Beyond the Promised Land: Jews and Arabs on the Hard Road to a New Israel, won the National Jewish Book Award. His second, Rivonia’s Children: Three Families and the Cost of Conscience in White South Africa, was a finalist for the Alan Paton Award, South Africa’s most prestigious literary prize. He and his wife live in Arlington, Virginia.

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Autry Museum of the American West

4700 Western Heritage Way

Los Angeles, CA 90027

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