Written and directed by Frank D. Gilroy (from his book)
I was fairly young when I first saw this western from 1976. I do recall being alone at the time. Even without my father near at hand, I was fairly likely to choose a western before just about anything. The other memory that stands out is a desire to share the experience- that urge to turn to someone and make a comment before realizing that no one was there. I don’t know if I talked about the movie later with anyone. It was just a little too weird.
In essence, a mediocre outlaw sleeps with a woman while on the run. He brags a little, but pretty much leaves her in the dust at the first opportune moment. He is captured and serves a long term in jail. When released, the outlaw discovers that the widow has written a huge bestseller romanticizing their time together. Maybe this movie explains my fondness for Don Quixote, which I did not tackle until much later.
Looking back, it’s interesting to see my younger self dealing with questions of truth- fiction and non-fiction. How much can an artist mine their own experience before owing something to their inspiration? How much truth can any person make if experience is subjective?
Gilroy’s real accomplishment is putting these questions out there in a way that entertains, while drawing us into the predicaments of the main characters. These are not issues that have disappeared, only morphed into concerns for more types of media. Much of our modern journalism has created a strange relationship between subject and chronicler that only accelerates compromises as the methods of sharing information foster the importance of headlines over actual content. From Noon Till Three was as much about the rise of surface impressions over personal depth and true character.
Charles Bronson, Jill Ireland, Gilroy, and all the rest of their collaborators make art of this because of the humanity at the core of the film. The situation feels ridiculous at points to all of the characters. Simple choices about personal survival have ended up causing harm and disunity.
Everyone has these artistic gems that they hold close. Part of being human is being affected by the world around us.. Some, like Star Wars, remain a part of the common parlance. Few a few brief years after the release of the first movie, we lived in a world in which you could only see it by waiting for broadcast television to show it. Can you imagine?
Then, something like From Noon Till Three is this strange movie that really is unknown. I don’t know if I have ever seen a copy on disc or tape. It looks like it might be stream-able now, wich is rather cool. Maybe it was simply the right art at the right time. I’m probably going to wait a little longer before I find out.
What’s it all about?
You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 180 more to go.
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