From Noon till Three

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From Noon Till Three
A cartoon image of a gang of bank robbers. The text above reads: It'll keep you on the edge of your saddle. A speech bubble from the robber reads: Just keep going like nothing was wrong.
Film poster
Directed by Frank D. Gilroy
Produced by M.J. Frankovich
William Self
Written by Frank D. Gilroy
Based on novel by
Frank D. Gilroy
Starring Charles Bronson
Jill Ireland
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Maury Winetrobe
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • 1976 (1976)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States United States
Language English

From Noon Till Three is an American western comedy film released in 1976 by United Artists. It stars Charles Bronson and his wife, Jill Ireland. It was written and directed by Frank D. Gilroy, based on his novel.


The setting is the American West, late 19th century. A gang of bank robbers, including Graham Dorsey (Charles Bronson), is off to rob a small-town bank, but Graham is having second thoughts: he's had a nightmare in which the gang was wiped out during the robbery attempt. Worse, Graham's horse broke down and the gang members have to get another. They try at the ranch of the widow Amanda Starbuck (Jill Ireland). Amanda, suspicious of the men, denies having a horse. Graham checks out the barn and finds a horse, but still afraid of disaster, he lies to his men and agrees to wait three hours at the ranch for their return (the "from noon till three" of the title). It turns out he has another reason for wanting to stay behind though: he wants to force himself on Mrs. Starbuck. Amanda resists rather inventively; simply lies still, fully clothed. This frustrates Graham, who decides on a ruse. He pretends he is impotent, hoping to play on Amanda's sympathy. The deception works, and they make love three times.

As time passes, Graham and Amanda have a long, thoughtful discussion talking of their past lives, as well as their hopes and ambitions (Graham wants to go straight and work in a bank!). They even dance to Amanda's music box ("Hello and Goodbye"), with Graham wearing Mr. Starbuck's old tuxedo. A neighbor boy stops by to tell Amanda about an attempted bank robbery. The bank robbers from Graham's gang were caught and were going to be hanged in town that afternoon. She thinks Graham should ride out and help them. Graham thinks this is a way for him to be able to stay with her and get away from the gang. After much coercing he decides to play along and rides out, intending only to have a long nap. But this is shattered when the posse rides into sight, spotting Graham and giving chase. Graham eludes them when he comes upon a traveling dentist, exchanges clothes with him at gunpoint, and steals his horse and wagon. The unfortunate Dr. Finger is taken for Graham and shot dead. The posse, recognizing Mr. Starbuck's horse and tux, bring the body back to the Starbuck ranch. Amanda, seeing what she thinks is Graham's body (she cannot see the face) faints. But Graham does not get away clean: it turns out Dr. Finger was a quack, and the first person Graham encounters after his escape was one of Dr. Finger's dissatisfied customers. He is put into prison on a year-long sentence for Dr. Finger's crimes.

At first Amanda is ostracized by the townspeople. But an impassioned speech proclaiming her true love for him does a remarkable trick: the townspeople not only forgive her, they see a remarkable story in that of Graham and Amanda. This story forms the basis of a legend, one that spawns a popular book (From Noon Till Three), dime novels, a stage play, and even a popular song. The legend of Graham and Amanda becomes bigger than the reality of the two, and with her book a worldwide best seller it makes Amanda a wealthy woman. Graham, who reads the book while in prison, is amused by the distortions. Graham is described as being 6'3" (1.90 m), Southern, and very handsome; he is, in fact, none of these. After serving his time he is eager to renew his relationship with Amanda.

A disguised Graham takes one of Amanda's guided tours of her ranch, and stays behind, intending to reveal himself. When he does so, Amanda does not recognize him and becomes frightened. It is only when Graham shows her "something that's not in the book" that Amanda believes him. (Graham's exposing himself is cut from the TV version, causing brief audience confusion as to why Amanda finally "recognizes" him.) But instead of joy, Amanda is confused and worried. If word got out that Graham was alive, the legend of Graham and Amanda would be done for. Even Graham's suggestion that he live with her incognito is no good; after all, if Amanda were to live with another man, the legend would still be destroyed. The encounter ends up with Amanda pointing a gun at Graham... but at the last second she decides to shoot herself.

Graham is heartbroken. Not only has he lost Amanda, the secret of his real identity is lost for good. He tries to forget what has happened, but there are reminders everywhere. He hears "their song" at a local saloon, and walks in on a stage production of From Noon Till Three. Worse, people he knew slightly laugh when he says he is Graham, since he looks nothing like his description in the book. At the end he is arrested and put in an insane asylum, where he meets the only people who believe him: his fellow inmates. He seems relieved.



Nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song.


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