Thursday, August 17, 2023

Hi. Noon.

Before you go into business on your own, I recommend you take a day off and watch Fred Zinnemann's 1952 movie, "High Noon," written by Carl Foreman and starring Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges and the surpassing Katy Jurado.

The movie is only eighty-five minutes long. It's shot in almost real-time, from about 10:40AM to, er, high noon, when Frank Miller arrives, pardoned from state prison so he can gun down Will Kane, played by Gary Cooper.

Any movie that's only eighty-five minutes long is pretty much 99.9% fat-free. It's not that much longer, really, than the filmic paeans to mayonnaise or some new mayonaise-inflected tequilla that Agency Spy is almost always publicizing--the ones that turn my synapses to permafrost. Because High Noon is so short, you can watch it six or nine times in an afternoon and you'll still have time to "craft" the 97 social posts due by end-of-day, so people can pick at them until the end of time and see them never and respond to them even less.

I've seen the movie probably 200 times in my life and though I don't live in the "old west," I'm not a marshall, I'm not married to Grace Kelly and I don't have four desperados gunning for me, I feel like it was made just for me--pretty much regardless of what mood I'm in.

The thing about High Noon that's getting me this week, is how "alone" running your own business makes you.

Like Will Kane in the small town of Hadleyville, you think you have friends and allies around you. You think you have people who will lend a hand or give you an encouraging word. You very often, very quickly find out you're substantially YOYO. That is, you're on your own.

Will Kane finds this out as he tries to enlist aid from the people he, as Marshall, helped for so long. They hide behind closed door, draw the shade, just say no, or slink away. 

Amy Fowler (Grace Kelly), Kane's new wife is a Quaker. Though they've been married just over an hour when the bad guys show up, she heads out of town on the noon train, the same train Frank Miller rides in on. She hates violence so much she's willing to see her husband die rather than abandon her principles.

Right now, I'm seeing the town's abandonment of Kane as a metaphor. I'm seeing the four gunslingers aiming to kill him as another metaphor. I'm seeing Kane against the world as a metaphor for trying to make a living in a harsh and money-grubbing environment.

One of my personal gunmen has owed me $80K for four months. Another is consistently Net120. Another demands work in an instant and doesn't get back to me--not even to acknowledge receipt.

That's not even considering the work it's taken to attract all these clients in the first place. All the successful work, the unsuccessful work, and worst of all, the work that seems successful but after months dies or disappears with all the fanfare of a birthday candle burning out.

Right now, all of those are the bad guys I'm facing. It sometimes seems that from every doorway and every window, a loaded gun is pointing at me, waiting for an opening.

Sure, some of this "comes with the territory," as Willy Loman, another role model might mumble.

On the other hand, I don't have to deal with bureaucracy or bosses or even subordinates that let me down.

I won't tell you how High Noon turns out. 

How Will Kane fares against Frank Miller and his gang. 

I won't tell you if Grace Kelly bucks up. If Katy Jurado is love or diffidence. I won't tell you if Hadleyville deserved Kane and Kane's farewell.

There's little to no chance that anyone reading this will actually watch High Noon. Even though you can find it online, commercial-free for free. Even though watching it takes about the same amount of time you spend online in Starbucks each week. 

High Noon is 71 years old. And our culture doesn't like 71-year-old movies about integrity. Or 71-year-old movies in general. 

Or integrity.

Maybe that's why I feel this way.

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