High Noon on the Waterfront Premieres On TCM

High Noon on the Waterfront. Courtesy of TCM.

Following its world premiere at the 2022 Telluride Film Festival, High Noon on the Waterfront makes its broadcast premiere on TCM.

This film is a tale of two different filmmakers as TCM observes the 75th anniversary of the Hollywood Blacklist during the month of October. This was one of the darkest times in both American and Hollywood history. If you’re not familiar, Hollywood filmmakers and actors were pressured to “name names” of communists because McCarthyism was at its worst during the 1950s. The Red Scare ended some careers while others moved across the pond and took on a pseudonym in order to continue getting work. There’s a lovely story in Scott Eyman‘s recent book on 20th Century-Fox that discusses how Darryl Zanuck helped blacklisted writers. I found it really surprising.

High Noon on the Waterfront
High Noon on the Waterfront. Courtesy of TCM.

Elia Kazan was an accomplished director but ostracized as a result of naming names when questioned. His granddaughter, Zoe Kazan, had a beautiful answer when questioned about his naming names. In the other corner, we have screenwriter/producer Carl Foreman, who ended up being blacklisted for his refusal to name names. What followed were films that told their stories as an allegory. Foreman wrote High Noon right when HUAC was kicking things into full gear. He wrote dialogue that he was hearing from other people in the industry. In fact, he became Gary Cooper’s character in the process! Kazan would follow with On The Waterfront a few years later. Whether one realized it or not, the film is very much Kazan’s own story. Both films will air immediately after TCM screens the 14-minute documentary short.

Edward Norton reads voiceovers from Foreman’s papers while John Turturro does the same for Kazan. The film is heavy on clips from both films as the two actors read voiceovers from their papers. There’s definitely enough material for a feature-length documentary. I mean, there are a countless number of filmmakers, writers, and actors impacted by the Blacklist. For focusing on two different filmmakers, it’s a solid introduction but there’s a larger story to tell and the film needs to be longer. I would definitely recommend seeking out Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist by Thomas Doherty.

After watching High Noon on the Waterfront, audiences will never be able to watch either film in the same way ever again.

DIRECTORS: David Roberts & Billy Shebar
FEATURING: Edward Norton, John Turturro, Elia Kazan, Carl Foreman

High Noon On the Waterfront will air October 13, 2022 at 8 PM ET on TCM. Grade: 3.5/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.