The Man Called Noon (Film Review)
From The Spaghetti Western Database
The Man Called Noon (1973, Peter Collinson) - See Database Page
Richard Crenna is a man who has lost his memory after a failed attempt on his life. With the help of a wandering outlaw (Stephen Boyd), he starts reconstructing the events that led to the assault. It turns out that he has exceptional skills with a gun, and when he finds out that many people are afraid of him, he comes to think that he is the mysterious gunman called Ruble Noon, a ruthless man and a hired killer. But Fan, a woman who has invited him on her ranch - to recover from his physical and psychological wounds - thinks this can't be true...
A Man called Noon was shot in Spain, on familiar spaghetti western locations and has a couple of familiar spaghetti western faces in its cast. Still, if you're looking for a western in the Leone tradition, you'll be disappointed. The script was based on a novel by American author Louis l'Amour while the director, Peter Collinson, was a Brit with no previous experience with the western genre. The producer, Euan Lloyd, was also British and The Man called Noon was one of the three western movies he made in Spain, all based on Louis L’Amour novels (1), the other two being Catlow (also starring Crenna) and Shalako (starring Sean Connery).
The man called Noon is a confusing movie; It often feels like a thriller movie disguised as a western. It’s also an odd-looking movie. It tries hard to be stylish, but never seems to be sure what style it wants to copy. There are a lot of low angles, some of them shot with a fish-eye lense, and director Collinson and his cinematographer José Cabrera almost constantly put wagon wheels, rocks, tree-stumps or flapping doors between the actors and the camera. The first thirty minutes are strong, creating a sinister image of a confused and frightened man who is confronted with a violent past he doesn't remember, but the story loses focus along the way and the movie never really recovers from it. The convoluted crime story with an amnesiac hero, his ambiguous buddy, a hidden treasure, a secret underground house and a conflict between two cowgirls doesn't really pay off in a western context. As Tom Betts pointed out, the story is so confusing that you'll probably have to view the movie twice to piece all things together (2).
Reactions to the movie, from both fans and critics, have been mixed, often conflicting. Some think this is the best of the three westerns Loyd made in Spain, others rank it under the worst ever. Personally I do not know what to think of it. The premise of this man trying to find out who he is and where he comes from is intriguing, even if the film doesn’t live up to it, and the movie has a nice international cast. I’ve always liked Crenna and Boyd, and Boyd in particular seems to enjoy himself as the sneaky outlaw and fortune seeker, who could - and then again could not - be a friend of Ruble Noon (“If you’re looking for trouble, call Ruble Noon”). Schiaffano is a beauty of the curvy kind, one with a perfect balcony, and Patty Shepard is a special delight as the black-clad female gunslinger. The action scenes aren’t too bad but there are a few very corny special effects. One involving a rock is hilarious. Don't miss it.
Jason Noon or Ruble Bourne?
The most remarkable thing about this story about an amnesiac gunslinger, is that it seems to have a lot in common with Robert Ludlum's first Bourne novel, The Bourne Identity. The premise about the amnesiac man who comes to think he's a ruthless murderer, is remarkably identical. There’s also the woman who falls for the amnesiac and helps him to get his own life and identity back. L'Amour's novel was published in 1970, Ludlum's Bourne novel a decade later, in 1980. Did Ludlum read the novel by L'Amour or did he watch this movie? I have never heard about Ludlum having legal problems with either L'Amour's or Collinson/Lloyd.
There’s even a third version of this story of the amnesiac hero who thinks he was involved in a crime, a Belgian graphic novel called XIII by William Vance and Jean van Hamme. Its success led to a Canadian miniseries (XIII - The Conspiracy) and a French-Canadian (English language) TV-series (3 season, 28 episodes in total). According to the French Wiki page, Van Hamme admitted in an interview to a French newspaper that he had been influenced by Ludlum’s novel. Memory loss is of course a popular device in literary fiction, just think of Madonna who was desperately seeking Susan ...
Noon is a gunman who has lost his memory in a gunfight. With the help of a mysterious drifter and a woman who fell in love with him, he tries to figure out who he is and why a group of bandits are following him. A thriller movie in a western setting
Dir: Peter Collinson, Cast: Richard Crenna, Stephen Boyd, Farley Granger, Rosanna Schiaffino, Patty Shepard, Aldo Sambrell, Renato Rossini, Angel Del Pozo, José Jaspe, Charlie Bravo, José Canalejas, Ricardo Palacios, Music: Luis Bacalov