The classic Western film High Noon reflects the stereotypical role of the man in the west. Masculinity is one of the main themes of High Noon, and the characters reflect various levels of masculinity. Deputy Sheriff Harvey Pell struggles with his masculinity, while William Kane seems to represent the perfect man without consciously attempting to be. After Kane’s wedding to Amy Kane, he learns that a murderer he sentenced to be hanged was pardoned on a legal technicality and will be returning to their small town Hadleyville, New Mexico on the noon train. Kane is furious, although he gave up his position as town Marshall for his new Quaker wife, and plans to leave to St. Louis with her; he tells her that he has to stay to finish what he started. She begs him not to be a hero, reflecting the classic western view of man protecting woman, but it seems Kane feels that he needs to live up to his own standards of manhood. His wife tells him that she will be leaving with or without him, but Kane refuses to leave without bringing Miller to justice.
The town does not support Kane and they urge him to leave town. The townspeople feel that the only real issue Frank Miller has is with William Kane, therefore; if Kane is not in the town, Miller will have no reason to cause any problems. We learn that while Miller was free in Hadleyville, the town was a very dangerous place. With no support, Kane has a lot of trouble finding deputies to help him defeat Miller; it seems no one will man up to bring Miller to justice. Mrs. Ramirez, a female character that once dated Miller, then dated Kane, and during the movie dates Harvey Pell, tells Pell that although he is to be the new sheriff, he is not half the man that William Kane is. Ramirez tells Pell that “Kane is a man, it takes more than big broad shoulders to make a man and you have a long way to go.” Pell then goes to the bar and acts bitter towards the bartender and other customers. The Bartender calls him “the boy with the tin star” again, effeminizing his masculinity. Pell takes in this comment and it seems to give him the strength he needs to approach Kane and offer to help him. Pell says that it is time to make the streets fit for women and children, another example of men protecting the allegedly-weak. However; after an argument and a seemingly random fight scene between Kane and Pell, Pell quits.
Pell, unable to reach the classic stereotype of a true man, backs out of a chance to protect the town, leaving Kane to fend for himself. Frank Miller and his gang of three men reach the town at noon, and through the sequential gun-fight scene one can truly understand the epitome of a man that Kane is. Before he leaves the station, Kane writes his will and falls into tears. Kane’s cry shows he is human, and although he quickly wipes his tears after a teenage boy saw him, his tears are tears of virtue. He approaches Miller directly, more or less walking to his death with dignity and pride. Kane is able to kill one of the gang members and afterward he takes cover at a barn. Miller and his men set the barn on fire, in attempts to expel Kane. Regardless of the fact that Kane was literally in the middle of a gun fight and fighting for his life, he still took the time to free all of the horses from the burning barn, again exemplifying Kane’s magnificent virtue and selflessness.
Amy Kane does board the train to leave town, however, once she hears the gunfight begin she exits the train to find her husband. At this point, Kane is inside a saddler shooting at Miller and his men from the window. Amy Kane runs into the station, in which she goes against her religious pacifist beliefs and shoots one of Miller’s men from behind. Miller ends up finding Amy Kane, and holding her hostage in attempts to lure Will Kane. Kane obviously comes outside in order to save his wife, but she ends up saving him by suddenly attacking Miller and giving Kane a clear shot.
After Miller is dead, the town rushes to the scene. At this point, Kane throws his tin star on the ground and leaves town with his wife. Kane’s final action shows that he was not fighting for fun or to make himself look good, but for justice, and once justice was achieved, Kane felt his job was finished.