Saturday 17 September 2022

Movie Review: From Noon Till Three (1976)

A western spiced with sly humour, From Noon Till Three toys with romance and action in a clever expression of the gap between legend and reality.

In the late 1800s, the outlaw Graham Dorsey (Charles Bronson) rides with the little-known Buck Bowers gang. On the night before they rob the bank in Gladstone, Graham has a prophetic nightmare that the gang will be annihilated. The next morning he lies his way out of the robbery and waits for his colleagues at the grand house of the wealthy and beautiful widow Amanda Starbuck (Jill Ireland).

Amanda is initially fearful and resentful of Graham, but he artfully worms his way into her heart with elaborate lies, and they become lovers over three idyllic hours. The rest of the gang is killed or captured, and Graham is forced to flee a chasing posse. When Amanda is vilified for consorting with an outlaw, she unexpectedly takes control of her fate, creating a legend in the process.

Written and directed by Frank D. Gilroy (adapting his own novel), From Noon Till Three is uneven in pacing and tone, but dares to be different while still respecting traditional western constructs. The plot features familiar components, including the outlaw gang, bank robbery, and chasing posse, all infused with subversive twists. The two central characters are worthwhile adversaries and both undoubtedly whip-smart, but outlaw Graham Dorsey is also a womanizing liar (if not an outright coward), and despite her blazing red dress, Amanda's true colours are cold and opportunistic.

The entire second act is an elaborate romance. The real-life husband and wife team of Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland have rarely been better together on the screen, and here engage in flirtatious theatre covering the spectrum from lust and hostility to the grandest love. Gilroy stages their affair at a mysteriously majestic mansion jutting out of the barren landscape, and allows star chemistry to flourish. An idyllic waltz in the music room provides an appropriate highlight.

Once the lovers are separated, Gilroy injects plenty of humour into the widening chasm between selling a story and gritty facts. The afternoon of love is propelled into the sphere of swoon-worthy legend with searing commentary on the power of marketing, celebrity worship, and the public thirst to believe in the fantastic. The myths of the west are built on tall tales, real people consumed by inflated retellings of ultimately outsized exploits.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome reader comments about this post.