“High Noon’s Hidden Backstory” to Shed Light on Blacklisted Screenwriter Carl Foreman

Benefit screening on December 9 at 7 pm and post-show Q+A
with Dr. Amanda Foreman in conversation with Peter Biskind

(Chatham, NY—November 21, 2023) — The historic Crandell Theatre on Chatham’s Main Street is pleased to present “High Noon’s Hidden Backstory,” about blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman, on December 9 at 7 pm. The documentary short High Noon on the Waterfront (2022) and a special screening of the 1952 film High Noon, starring Gary Cooper, will be introduced by acclaimed historian and Kinderhook resident Dr. Amanda Foreman, FRSA. Following the screenings, Dr. Foreman will discuss her father’s time during the McCarthy era with author Peter Biskind, a Crandell board member. Tickets are $20 and will benefit the theater’s upcoming restoration and renovation.

High Noon, written by Carl Foreman, is an untraditional Western starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly and Katy Jurado. The film eschews familiar Western tropes like chases on horseback, saloon fights and breathtaking vistas for more immediate, emotional scenes that culminate in a dramatic final act. The heroine (Kelly) even rescues the hero (Cooper), which upset several critics in the buttoned-up 1950s.

But the film’s backstory is even wilder. John Wayne declined the leading role after reading Foreman’s script, which he felt was a thinly veiled screed against blacklisting, something Wayne vociferously supported during the House Un-American Activities Committee Hearings led by Senator Joseph McCarthy. Cooper won an Academy Award that year for his role, but didn’t attend the ceremony. John Wayne, of all people, accepted the Oscar on his behalf.

The documentary short High Noon on the Waterfront (14 min.) will precede the feature. The short visually renders a dialogue between Carl Foreman (voiced by Edward Norton) and Elia Kazan (voiced by John Turturro), highlighting their very different views and actions during the McCarthy era.

Dr. Amanda Foreman is the author of the prize-winning bestsellers Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire and A World on Fire: An Epic History of Two Nations Divided. In 2016, Foreman served as chair of The Man Booker Prize. That same year, her BBC documentary series, The Ascent of Woman, was released. Her next book, The World Made by Women: A New History of Humanity, is scheduled to be published by Penguin Random House in 2025.

Peter Biskind is the bestselling author of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock ‘n Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. His latest book, Pandora’s Box: How Guts, Guile and Greed Upended TV, was released this fall. He is the co-executive and co-artistic director of the 23-year FilmColumbia film festival, held annually at the Crandell Theatre.


About the Crandell

The Crandell Theatre in Chatham, NY, is one of a few community-based, nonprofit theaters in the United States devoted to film and one of fewer than one hundred single-screen movie theaters nationally. Since 2010, Crandell Theatre, Inc., has raised more than $1 million to purchase the historic theater and make needed repairs. The current Crandell board is engaged in a multi-million-dollar campaign to renovate and restore the area’s oldest, largest, single-screen theater and enhance the moviegoing experience for generations to come. For more information, visit crandelltheatre.org, or call 518-392-3445.