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Movie Night at Ocean City Library great way to spend a cold winter evening - Ocean City Sentinel: Arts & Entertainment

Movie Night at Ocean City Library great way to spend a cold winter evening

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Posted: Thursday, January 20, 2011 12:00 am

There is not a better way or place to spend Monday evenings than the lecture hall of the Ocean City Free Public Library in the revitalized Ocean City Community Center, especially on these frigid winter nights.

Classic movie maven Dr. Walter Brown presides over screens of the best that Hollywood has offered in past years. His commentary concerning the films and conversations with the audience can be quite illuminating. I have more confidence in Brown’s judgment than the opinions of other film critics. Brown’s depth of knowledge and discernment are impressive. He has chosen these films carefully and, as a result, although you may have arrived prepared to disagree with him, you’ll probably leave convinced he was right. He is most persuasive.

The 1952 movie, “High Noon,” starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly with a large cast of highly regarded actors, some in their youth, has sometimes been dismissed as just another oater. I’m ashamed to admit I was among the scoffers until Monday night. I had never seen “High Noon” in its entirety, but I found myself entranced by the film. The running time for “High Noon” is a modest 90 minutes but it tells its story much better than today’s long-winded epics that lull me to sleep.

Brown informed the audience that Cooper was ill when the movie was made and looked older than he was, which was actually 20 years older than his lovely co-star. John Wayne received Cooper’s Academy Award for him.

Grace Kelly is breathtakingly beautiful in the film. Brown alluded to Kelly’s connection to Ocean City, and asked older audience members for any memories of her they might have. I recalled seeing Prince Rainier, a nanny and Kelly’s kids entering Stainton’s department store to purchase shoes.

“High Noon” was a masterpiece of black and white cinematography. The starkness of the imagery contributed much to the ominous atmosphere of the story. Dmitry Tiomkin’s score and the song, “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin,’” sung by Tex Ritter, helped set the mood. Tiomkin was an Oscar winning composer for film scores, whose greatest triumph was his 1938’s “Lost Horizon.”

The cast also included Thomas Mitchell, Katie Jurado, Lon Chaney, Jr., and a very young Lloyd Bridges, and Jack Elam as a wall-eyed drunk. Another young cast member was Harry Morgan, originally known as Henry Morgan but changed so not to be confused with a comedian of the same name. Harry Morgan went on to greater fame as Jack Webb’s sidekick in “Dragnet” and as Col. Potter in “M*A*S*H*.”

After a pause in the film series due to scheduling conflicts, the Monday night series resumes Jan. 31 with John Wayne’s “The Searchers.”

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