High Plains Drifter 1973 (1973) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way. Runtime: 105 mins Release Date: 22 Aug 1973
As is often the case with a Clint Eastwood western, High Plains Drifter is rather good.The usual scenario opens, with Eastwood playing an unnamed character again riding into a small mining town, Lagos, where a small group of thugs unsuccessfully try to kill him.This small act serves as an introduction to the local townsfolk: small-minded cowards who are all talk and no action. They also bear a horrifying secret.Eastwood is eventually approached to help them fend off an upcoming attack from three criminals who have just been released from prison.He also suffers from a recurring nightmare, <more>
which I will leave to you to find out.Needless to say, all of the pieces come together by the end, and those of you not astute enough to have noticed will be saying, "of course!"A good story combines with Eastwood's anti-heroic personality he never really played a good guy, did he? and a good supporting cast to produce one of the best westerns of the 1970s. As the Maltin summary states: "Half-serious, half tongue-in-cheek, with great role for midget Billy Curtis."Curtis plays Mortecai, the town dwarf, who shadows Eastwood around Lagos. Some of the scenes in this are extremely funny, but are balanced by some harshly violent moments, of which Eastwood's nightmares are a prime example.1985's Pale Rider bears similarity to High Plains Drifter in certain areas, but you'll have to watch that yourself to find out where.
12th Review: Deconstructing the Western (by intelearts)
High Plains Drifter looks and feels like a deconstruction of the language of the Western.A brilliant mix of psychological and macabre, and in places even quite bizarre, it is an investigation of what is created when weakness and desire meet the man driven half to madness Eastwood yet seems sane: he is pathological, but is he the only standard of true sanity as a protagonist here? Has he truly lost all sense of ethic? He starts here as the archetype of antiutilitariansim: nothing he does is for anyone's benefit if it costs him a moment of care. He is cold, brutal, effective. Yet behind <more>
this there is a sense that he has a twisted right on his side. Having being so wronged his revenge is more complex than simply killing: it demands retribution, and retribution demands the whole town pays.More existential than even Once upon A time in the West, or, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly it is about the nihilism and the circle of violence that must be closed.The filming is supremely confident for a second film: real silences and pauses, laugh out loud lines and situations and cold, cold chills: the language of film is expressed explicitly and implicitly. This is the death knell of the Good vs. Bad traditional Western: it is more like Kurosawa's Yojimbo though here the bad guys are few and the townsfolk are by implication as guilty as the rest because they let evil thrive and let it break a good man.Never answering it's own questions: like Lago itself it is a world created in isolation and as such is a unique and powerful testament to Eastwood's continuing expression of the darker psyche of the cost of opening up the cowboy image and getting to a colder, starker, realism that defined 70s films.Compulsive viewing and an important film.
"Well it's what people know about themselves inside that makes 'em afraid." (by classicsoncall)
I'm perfectly willing to allow Clint Eastwood his pronouncement of ambiguity regarding the character of 'The Stranger', and have read with interest the many opinions offered in the reviews and threads on this site. I've seen the movie at least a half dozen times over the years, but today it was with the express intent of crystallizing my opinion. As I've felt all along, the character of The Stranger is indeed a mortal man, the brother of the slain town marshal Jim Duncan, and I'll get into that in a minute.Let's keep in mind that Eastwood himself has had quite some <more>
time to reflect on his direction and portrayal in the film, and the subject of a ghostly apparition had time to take hold of viewer consciousness. The film itself has added to the controversy, at least twice via statements made by hotel owner Lewis Belding Ted Hartley . The first time occurs right after he supervises the evacuation of his hotel, remarking disparagingly to the Preacher Robert Donner - "...they're emptyin' my whole hotel, throwing out paying guests right into the street just to make room for our new guardian angel". Later, when addressing Lago's citizens at a town meeting right after the dinner scene with The Stranger and Callie - "...couldn't be worse if the devil himself had ridden right into Lago". So right there you have the seeds planted for both an avenging angel and a demon bent on revenge.There IS a real mystery to the film, but it's not the identity of 'The Stranger'. To fully understand, it's important to view the movie in it's unedited form via tape or DVD. Watching "High Plains Drifter" on TV, even a cable channel leaves too much out, particularly in the way of dialog, and especially regarding the character of Callie Marianna Hill and her relationship to the people in the town.The movie offers two flashback scenes, the first by 'The Stranger' only about twenty minutes into the story, the second by Mordecai Billy Curtis , again shortly after the evacuation of the hotel guests. In both flashbacks, one is able to recognize every citizen of Lago that we already know by name, EXCEPT ONE. About midway in each scene, a character is shown entering from, and then retreating back into the shadows, with half of a bearded face visible. It's the face of The Stranger. The reason Eastwood's character can recall with clarity what occurred on the night Marshal Duncan was killed is because he was there. The mystery then becomes why he was powerless at the time to intervene on his brother's behalf. Presumably he wasn't a citizen of Lago, or he would be recognized, so there must have been another reason for him to be there. Visiting his brother, certainly, but for reasons unknown and unexplored, 'The Stranger' did not become involved at the time of his brother's death.The one person who had an inkling to The Strangers' identity I feel, was Sarah Belding, making reference to the dead marshal in an unmarked grave. But The Stranger wasn't biting, he intended to remain anonymous, a position he affirmed when he first checked into Belding's hotel and didn't register. Sure he could have used a phony name, but then some of the mystique he was attempting to establish would have been compromised.I'm quite intrigued reading some of the threads maintaining certainty regarding The Stranger being a 'spirit' citing reactions the character has, as if one could actually know how a spirit would go about his business. But since we're playing that game, I'd offer two reasons why he couldn't be a spirit or a demon. On the ride into town, The Stranger's reflection is shown on one of the store front windows as he goes past. Then in the first bar scene, The Stranger's arm casts a shadow on the wall as he takes his beer. Granted, most of my spirit and demon lore has come from other movies and popular literature, but I believe that both of those occurrences aren't possible with beings from the other side. What REALLY intrigues me now is if Eastwood was clever enough to consciously plant those things in the film to keep everyone and his brother no pun there guessing. Oh, and one last thing - if The Stranger really WAS a ghost, then who's ghost was the horse he rode in on?When I first entered a rating for this film on IMDb, I gave it a strong '8' as one of the upper echelon film Westerns, right up there with "High Noon", "Shane", and Eastwood's own "Unforgiven". However now, after having so much fun watching and re-watching the movie, and reading some of the great discussion on this site, that has to warrant at least two bonus points, I'm re-establishing my rating as a '10'.One last thing - if you're interested in hearing Clint Eastwood himself describe who/what the character of The Stranger represents, head over to his website at http://www.clinteastwood.net/welcome2.htmlFollow the links to the movie, and then click on the audio icon for "High Plains Drifter".
By the early 70s, actor Clint Eastwood's career had gone from being a mere extra to a well-known Hollywood star. Thanks to the success of Sergio Leone's immortal Westerns, Eastwood was noticed and soon he began to work in very good projects, with great results. Despite being a respected actor, nobody could have imagined that his talent as director was even superior to his acting skills, and after a fairly good debut in 1971 the thriller "Play Misty for Me" , he crafted his first masterpiece in 1973 as a tribute to his own artistic mentors: the haunting western "High <more>
Plains Drifter"."High Plains Drifter" is the story of a small mining town named "Lago" which is constantly troubled by outlaws and gunfighters. One day a stranger Clint Eastwood comes to town, and manages to kill three of those outlaws, gaining instant recognition and the offer of having whatever he wants from the town if he gets rid of the rest of the gang. He accepts but the town doesn't know that the mysterious stranger has a secret that will change their lives for ever.The figure of the stranger comes to town to alter the fragile equilibrium of their existence, and soon the town's own demons return to haunt them. Eastwood's character is not exactly the hero we know, but a morally ambiguous cruel man that doesn't hesitate to use and abuse the townspeople and that clearly has an agenda of his own. Written by Ernest Tidyman, this is a dark tale that explores the ambiguous morality of people and the concepts of justice and revenge.Eastwood's second directorial effort is a powerful movie that brilliantly combines the elements of Western with those of suspense and thriller. Due to his solid career in Westerns, Eastwood knows the genre's characteristics and pushes them forward to create something more, a movie beyond its genre. With brilliant camera-work, he goes from dream sequences out of a nightmare to day sequences in Leone's Spaghetti Western style. This is definitely a tribute to his mentors In fact, he included a small reference to his directors in a cemetery scene .The acting is remarkably good, with Eastwood himself leading the cast with great skill and his powerful presence. His character is a lot more complex than his "Man With No Name" and it could be said that he mixes in one character the characteristics of the three outlaws of "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly". The underrated Billy Curtis is great as Mordecai, probably the only one in town who knows and understands the stranger's secret. The rest of the cast is very good and even those in small roles such as William O'Connell as the barber give performances of high quality. Apparently Eastwood's talent with people was there from the beginning.Tidyman's story is very well-constructed, and can be seen from diverse points of view. Every character in town is well-defined no matter how long their screen-time is, and Eastwood makes the most of it. It's hard to find a flaw in this movie and I really can't praise it enough. It is a story that once that grabs you never lets you go."High Plains Drifter" is a must-see, not only for Western fans, it is a powerful story that is more than what it seems. Great camera-work, haunting images, terrific script, superb acting, all pieces fit to create Clint Eastwood's first masterpiece. This dark western sets the path of Eastwood's career as a director and one can see why is he one of the best directors alive. 10/10
The Man With No Name has returns as an avenging angel of death! (by Nazi_Fighter_David)
The exotic location in the desert, near Lake Mono in the California Sierras, certainly gives the film a fresh and refined look among Westerns...The sparkling colors of the backgrounds and the changing cloud formations gave effective shots...The film has certainly the most dramatic opening sequence of any Western... Through the burning desert, Bruce Surtees' lens discovers a lone horseman.... The camera pans with the horseman to reveal a small town by a lake-lagoon... The horseman rides in, the camera tracking behind him, interrupted with faces of suspicious locals - even a coffin maker <more>
with his merchandises - and instantly one is reminded of Sergio Leone and his faithful reproduction of Kurosawa... A coach driver cracks the whip... The horseman turns, and moves back... He enters a bar and asks for 'a beer and a bottle.' A town heavy intervenes: 'Flea-bitten range-bums don't usually stop in Lago. Life here is a little too quick for them. Maybe you think you're fast enough to keep up with us!' The drifter replies: 'I'm faster than you'll ever live to be!'True to his promise, the Stranger kills the 'trouble shooter' and his two friends, and also rapes the town belle who responds as any Eastwood feminine victim is obliged to, with resistance turning strangely to joy... The town midget, Mordecai Billy Curtis offers him a cigar inquiring: 'What did you say your name was again?' The hardened Stranger replies: 'I didn't!'The Man With No Name has returned, this time, quite literally, with a vengeance... His dictatorship is flavored with cool humor... The name Billy Borders is mentioned to him...'Don't know the man,' he confesses.'You didn't have much time to,' comes the reply, 'because you shot him yesterday.'When his rape victim, Callie Travers Mariana Hill inaccurately empties a pistol at him during his bath, he casually resurfaces, cigar still in his mouth, and in an aside to his sidekick, Mordecai, reflects: 'I wonder what took her so long to get mad?' His fellow chauvinist suggests, 'Maybe because you didn't come back for more.'The townsfolk accedes to the Stranger's requests, who pushes them to the limit, even forcing them to paint the entire town blood red... 'When we get down,' says one of them, 'this place is going to look like hell.'This is the Stranger's intention; he takes a brush and strokes out the name 'Logo' on the town sign and writes 'Hell' instead.In a series of flashbacks, primarily from the Stranger's point of view and later from Mordecai's, it is revealed that the townsfolk stood by and let three men whip their Marshal to death... The Marshal had discovered that the basis of the town's prosperity, a mine, was actually on government land and not on the townspeople's own. He was going to report this, so no-one felt obliged to intervene when he met his vicious end... His body now was lying outside the town in an unmarked grave: 'They say the dead don't rest without a marker of some kind... he's the reason this town's afraid of strangers.'Now they have reason to be afraid of the three men who paid the price for the crime in which they all agreed... The Stranger analyzes this fear: 'It's what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.' The town reaction to his is reserved... A group of vigilantes try to kill him... The Stranger repays them with a stick of dynamite... Despite their training, the remaining locals are horrified when they realize that he does not intend to remain for the final showdown..."High Plains Drifter" is one of the most important Westerns ever made, and when Eastwood takes his rightful place in film history alongside Cooper and Stewart and Wayne, this is the film that will be seen as the quintessential example of his art...
A lone gunman with no name and seemingly with no past, rides into the dusky town of Lago. The residents of Lago at first view the stranger with suspicion, but when news that some outlaws that are out for blood are on their way to town, they ask the stranger for his help. This is Clint Eastwood's first Western film that he directed, and it's clear and evident that the guy not only loves the genre that made his name, he also knows what makes it work. Obviously having worked for Sergio Leone, Eastwood was making notes because High Plains Drifter oozes the mythical aura of many of <more>
Leone's finest genre offerings. To which, with thanks, the result is one of the best offerings in the 70s for the Oater enthusiast. The film opens with our mysterious drifter slowly coming out of the beautiful sprawling haze and into Lago, it's ethereal, then there's just the sound of the horse breathing and the clop of its hooves that can be heard the sound mix here is incredible , it's a gloriously mysterious opening that sets the tone perfectly. Yet Eastwood is just toying with us though, for a quick jolt of sex and violence snaps us out of the beatific warmth and into a quite hauntingly cold and morally challenged place. From here on in the stranger will demand all manner of odd things from the residents of Lago, he seems to be toying with them and revelling in their discomfort, with Lago quickly resembling an arid hellhole. You see, Lago has a dark secret, and our mysterious stranger has a purpose, and it's this purpose that makes High Plains Drifter an intriguing and gripping experience. A well known fact now is that the great man of the genre, John Wayne, wrote Eastwood to strongly complain about his harsh vision of the West, one can only think the Duke failed to grasp the post Vietnam feel of a 70s made Western. It's a great directorial effort from Eastwood, more so when you marry up his acting performance to his directorial duties. Very much the perfect role, it lets Eastwood accentuate his rugged Western leanings. Eastwood would direct the similarly themed Pale Rider in the 80s and then the genre crown topper Unforgiven in the 90s. A Western great in each decade? Well that will always be debatable, but what we do know is that the Western genre was considerably lucky to have had such a man to keep the genre going for the newer interested wanderers into the Wild West. Beautifully photographed Bruce Surtees on the shores of Mono Lake, California, it's a film pungent with sex, sadism, retribution and risks. High Plains Drifter is mystical and magnificent and essential Western fare. 9/10
Clint Eastwood revives his signature role as "The Man with no Name" as he seems to come out of nowhere from the distant prairie and descends upon the sleepy little town of Largo and after that things there will never be the same again for the people who live there.A film that has a lot more to it then what you see at first with Eastwood not being that mysterious and having a past which is seen in flashback every so often in the movie. Styled a lot like "High Noon" but with a twist that builds up slowly at first then takes off like a loose bronco to it's dramatic and <more>
fiery conclusion."High Plains Drifter" doesn't follow the well worn standard western scenario which is why it make it unique and thought-provoking at the same time. Eastwood was never better here as the cool yet pragmatic stranger who's very anonymity makes him both mysterious and threatening to everyone he ruins into, friend or foe. Over the years since "High Plains Drifter" was released, back in 1973, it has reached cult statues and Eastwood has never made another western as good and as "High Plains Drifter" and that includes "The Unforgiven". Eastwood is more then a match against those out to get him but what they, his enemies as well as the audience, don't know until the very end of the movie is that Clint has something, besides his quick guns and steel nerves, that is far beyond that of mortal man.
A spaghetti western with horror influences. Sounds like a film that was written by God, directed by Jesus and shot in heaven, and it is...well, almost. Although Clint Eastwood's horror-western is undoubtedly a very nice little story, it lacks the epic vision of the classic Leone films and so can't be considered in the same divine category that it could have been if it was. The film exudes a very low budget feel, most of which comes from the very small village that has been constructed and the fact that most of the acting is terrible. It doesn't matter, though, and these things <more>
actually add to the film in the long run as they lend it the classic spaghetti western feel. As you might expect, Clint plays the character he is best known for; the Man With No Name. Here, he takes that character to the extreme as he gives a very malevolent and uncaring performance, which is far from 'the Good'. The common shoot-out scenes are present, but Clint has also decided to include a rather graphic rape scene, which will no doubt offend some viewers.Clint Eastwood is a minimalist filmmaker. His directorial style is solid and unfussy and as anyone who's ever seen a Clint Eastwood film will know; he's a man of very few words. This is of obvious advantage to the film as it means that it remains efficient throughout, which engages the audience and ensures they don't get bored. The way Clint plays the character is magnificent, as he continually makes us believe that he is infallible; which is needed for the film to work. Eastwood also succeeds in creating a cerebral atmosphere, which gives the film it's element of fascination. The fact that Eastwood directs and stars makes this a big personal achievement for him personally also. As I say, this isn't the greatest spaghetti western of all time; but it's a long way from the worst and fans of Eastwood will be in heaven seeing him perform his greatest role again.
This is essentially a Western Ghost story. Someone thought maybe he was the brother of the dead Marshall, but what we have is a story of a man wrongfully killed and then not given a final resting spot. As one of the characters in the movie states, "Without a headstone, the dead roam paraphrase ." Marshall Duncan was set up and murdered due to the greed of the town leaders and businesses. And the townspeople did nothing to stop or help. They, in the eyes of Marshall Duncan, are all guilty to some degree. Those that don't like the movie decry the violence and rape and thuggery of <more>
Clint. Well, it was because they were being punished for either their active participation in Marshall Duncan's murder, or their passive allowance of it. Oh, he is after the actual perpetrators, for sure, but everyone must be punished. The whole town. There are no innocent people, you see. Not in this town, at least.