St. Josephs Church, Tuolumne, Ca

High Noon starts with a wedding. The town’s retiring Marshal, Will Kane (Gary Cooper) gets married to a Quaker (Grace Kelly), not in the town’s church but in the Justice of the Peace’s office, next door to his own.

But a church does play a part in High Noon. Hardleyville’s church is in reality St. Joseph’s Church in Tuolumne, about 15 miles east of the county seat of Sonora.

The exterior of the church is used for two shots in the film, one, when the three gunmen ride into town on their way to the railroad depot and the second shot is of Marshal Kane walking towards the church to seek assistance from the congregation in defending the town.

I headed to the small town of Tuolumne to sketch the unique looking Catholic Church. It was a clear and cool fall morning and I sketched the church from the warmth of the front seat of my car from approximately the same angle from the film. Like the shot from the film, I cropped off the top of the tower. I’m not sure if this was a statement by director Fred Zinnemann or cinematographer Floyd Crosby or just a a practical way to frame the shot.

The church was built in 1908 and was a Catholic Church until 2008 where it became a Catholic “Mission”.

I like the humor in this sign. High Noon indeed.

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