Graham Dorsey (played by Charles Bronson) is an outlaw in the Old West who is eager to get out of his gang’s plan to robb a bank in a small town. He’s been having nightmares in which he and his entire gang are wiped out by the townspeople. However, the other members of the gang insist on trying to rob the bank. Because Graham needs a new horse, they stop off at a ranch owned by the widowed Amanda Starbuck (Jill Ireland). Both because he doesn’t want to die and also because he wants to spend time with the beautiful Amanda, Graham lies to the gang and tells them that Amanda doesn’t have a horse. The gang leaves Graham behind, saying that they’ll return for him in a few hours. The gang, of course, ends up getting captured by the townspeople while Graham and Amanda make love three times over the next three hours.
When Graham learns that the other members of the gang have been arrested, he’s content to just allow them to hang so that he can spend the rest of his life with Amanda. However, Amanda insists that Graham go into town and rescue his fellow outlaws. Graham agrees, even though he’s planning on actually just laying low for a few hours until the others have been executed. Through a series of events that are far too complicated to even try to recount here, Graham ends up switching clothes with a traveling dentist. When a posse guns down the dentist, Amanda believes that Graham has been killed. Meanwhile, Graham is arrested for practicing dentistry without a license and is put in prison for a year.
While Graham is away, Amanda writes an idealized account of the three hours that she spent with Graham. A play is produced. Songs are written. Tourists flock to Amanda’s ranch. Amanda becomes a celebrity and even she begins to believe that, instead of being a cowardly and uncouth outlaw, Graham was actually a tall, handsome, and cultured gentleman. When Graham finally gets out of jail, he heads for the ranch. Graham thinks that Amanda will be happy to learn that he’s alive and to see him but instead, there’s another surprise waiting for him.
Speaking of surprises, who would have though that one of Charles Bronson’s best films would be a romantic comedy? Bronson pokes fun at his own image in From Noon Till Three, playing a laid back outlaw who would rather catch a few extra hours of sleep than spend his time robbing people and seeking vengeance. The film’s entire third act, in which Amanda is reminded that the real-life Graham is far different from her idealized memory, feels like a commentary on Bronson’s entire film career. Just as Graham isn’t a typical romantic hero, Charles Bronson was never a typical movie star but, like Graham, he never gave up his dream. This is one of Bronson’s most likable and appealing performances. From Noon Till Three also features one of Jill Ireland’s best performances. She was, of course, Bronson’s wife at the time and their chemistry in this film goes a lot towards making the film’s complex story credible. Ireland’s best moments come at the end of the film, when she reveals how far she’ll go to maintain the myth of what happened between noon and three.
“When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” the newspaper editor said at the end of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and that also describes the main theme of From Noon Till Three, a clever romance that will be appreciated by even by those who would normally watch a Charles Bronson film.