Marshal Will Kane (Cooper) is set to retire with his young Quaker bride Amy (Kelly), when word comes that outlaw Frank Miller is arriving on the noon train to settle an old score with Kane (he put Miller away). In fact, three of Miller's accomplices are already awaiting his arrival there. Everyone, including Amy, tells Kane to leave, but he knows he can't. When Will asks his supposed friends and neighbors to stand beside him against the fierce Miller, everyone turns him down. As the clock ticks its way towards noon, Kane realizes he must face the outlaws alone.
Fred Zinnemann's stark revenge tale, told in real time, packs enough intensity into eighty minutes to carry two movies. It's extremely suspenseful, but also a morality tale, powerful in its simplicity, about the courage to make difficult, principled choices, even when those around you take the easy way out. This offers obvious parallels to the prevailing McCarthyism of the time (writer Carl Foreman was indeed blacklisted). Symbolism aside, this remains a trim, altogether brilliant western, with star Cooper creating the quintessential Western hero.