a film that revived the Western genre (by TheUnknown837-1)
During the early 80s, the Western genre was beginning to lose its position in Hollywood, and losing its impact on the audience. And the financial disaster of the Western "Heaven's Gate" did not really make very many producers any more enthusiastic about putting their money in to make Western films. But one of the producers, more famous as an actor and director, who was willing to make another Western, was Clint Eastwood. Maybe because Westerns like "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" had started his career in the 60s, he felt he owed it to at least himself to try and <more>
revive the genre before Hollywood officially threw it in the scrap pile."Pale Rider" was, and still is, a phenomenal success of a film. After its release, the Western genre was saved and brought back to life for several more years. It has fallen down nonetheless, but has not disappeared from cinema screens. And we really owe it all to Clint Eastwood for this film. "Pale Rider" is one of his best Westerns. It is well-acted, well characterized, has plenty of action, and is overall a great achievement.As one might expect, Clint Eastwood plays a mysterious stranger in this film. Very much like in the Dollars Trilogy and "High Plains Drifter", his character is never given an actual name. The character Eastwood plays in this film, however, is different than the squinting gunslingers he played in the past. This character is more anti-violent than the previous ones and doesn't even put his hand on a six-gun until the film is more than half-over. He mingles with the bad guys plenty of times, but rarely ever with a shooting iron. He's still a man of few words, but isn't as cold and self-concerned.Along with Eastwood, we have a cast made up of fine actors such as Michael Moriarty, the late Chris Penn, Richard A. Dysart, and one of the most popular of Western villains John Russell as a corrupt marshal by the name of Stockburn. Russell's character is one of the coldest cinema villains I've seen in a long time and his limited screen time aids in his impact and appearance. Russell's cold, almost lifeless voice added with Lennie Niehaus's eerie background music score brings a spine-chilling atmosphere to the film when the character speaks some of his first dialogue in the film. Like Eastwood's character, Stockburn is a character that says little, yet still delivers an enormous impact.Scenery in "Pale Rider" was absolutely beautiful, especially when combined with the effective lighting and cinematography. Many times in the film, we see a mountain directly smack center in the background. The cinematography is most of the time, dark and eerie. Dark scenes are even darker than usual, making this vision of the Old West even dirtier and savage than in most Westerns. And yet it isn't shown as being entirely savage, for it wasn't. True, the West was a tough place to live in the 19th century, especially during feuds over gold, but it wasn't a day of just regular killing.Some people have accused "Pale Rider" was being a rip off of the classic 1953 film "Shane". I will not deny the fact that they are very similar in a lot of regards and share similar scenes. A stranger coming to a settlement in the Old West during a feud between a successful land tycoon and homesteaders on land he wants was used in "Shane". But "Pale Rider" is in no way, shape, or form a rip-off. Any similarities to "Shane" is a homage, a tribute of respect. After all, Eastwood was attempting to save the Western genre, and perhaps this was his way of reminding the audiences of the great films of the past. Yet, he could do it without copying it. He just re-visioned it.
Step up, preacher-man...step up and make my day... (by witheld)
Clint Eastwood reinvented the western. Where are the good westerns these days? Where are the Clint wannabes? This is what Westerns should be...Forget Duty.Forget Honor.Forget Courage.Just pray to god the preacher-man will come around and beat your enemies into submission.Clint was downright scary. He carries off a sword-fight scene in a western with aplomb. He's big, mean, tough, and bad. The baddest of the bad. And unlike Dirty Harry, he's not bad cause he nuts. He's just bad because he is. He's a force of nature.And seeing Clint in a clerical collar...if that doesn't <more>
Though this movie copied some things from SHANE 1953 and HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER 1973 , PALE RIDER 1985 is a classic in it's own right. I find it so unfair when a lot of people discredit this movie, just because it's a clone in some ways. I know that not all will agree with me, but I'll say again, this western is a classic in it's own right, a big hit under Clint's belt, not his best, but it did enough during those times to keep his stardom alive, until he came up with UNFORGIVEN 1992 , his crowning achievement. A thrill rider from start to finish, I give a 10/10.
'Shane'' Revisted - Another Eastwood Western Winner (by ccthemovieman-1)
This was a solid western, one of many through the years from Clint Eastwood, who knows how to make an entertaining film. "Pale Rider" is almost like a modern-day "Shane," in which the quiet stranger enters to help the picked-on landowners and then winds up with a showdown with the evil men in town. In this film, Eastwood plays a "preacher," that's all he's called in this movie, but he's really a gunfighter who saves the day for the town miners, led by Michael Moriarty who is always good in low-key roles. Eastwood's "Preacher" handles <more>
the immature love-struck teen Sidney Penny well, but blows his moral reputation by having sex with Moriarity's fiancé Carrie Snodgrass near the end, although no one knows that except the viewer. So - as usual - there are a lot of mixed moral messages in this film.A couple of things that are not mixed are 1 - the interesting characters; 2 - the convincing bad guys; 3 - the beautiful scenery and photography; 4 - the involving story that makes you care what happens. All of these make this an entertaining film you would watch a number of times.
"Pale Rider" is a Western with such an aura, such an attitude and such a stance over the Western myth that it's almost a miracle it could flirt with self-consciousness while never sinning by it. Clint Eastwood might be the only director still capable of such miracles. The actor has always been a man of a few words, of stares that could speak more ominous statements than a Samuel L. Jackson's monologue. His ways of standing, looking, existing could exude more magnetism than the Magnificent Seven put together. But more than his natural blessings that made him a man women liked <more>
and men wanted to be like, Eastwood had an all-American attitude toward the frontier spirit. He who was made a star through Western before Leone, there was 'Rawhide' he returned back the favor after the disastrous failure of "Heaven's Gate" seemed to have sealed the genre's fate. It's like Eastwood and Westerns form a natural cycle, they both define one another, as if there was a true predestination in his name being an anagram of Old West Action. Though "Pale Rider" isn't much about the Old West as it is about action, the film retells the story of George Stevens' "Shane" with miners replacing homesteaders and standing in the way of a powerful and influential industrialist named Coy LaHood Richard Dysart who believes he and progress make one. His attempt to buy 'tin pans' out and to threaten them through acts of intimidations almost destroy their spirit until a mysterious rider comes into the picture and proves that before being about action, Westerns are about 'states of mind'.I mentioned Eastwood's natural aura because it's integral to the story's believability. Alan Ladd was good at Shane but he wasn't exactly threatening, he had to prove his worth at gun, at fist-fight and through a few one-liners such as "I like it to be my idea". Eastwood doesn't even need 'himself', only a silhouette appearing and then vanishing before you notice it, a weak lighting that can only reveal his piercing eyes or just being mentioned in a conversation. When young Megan Perry Sidney buries her dog, killed by LaHood's men, she has a prayer where she begs the Lord for help, her "please" has that childish resonance that indicates how hopeless they are. Eastwood intercut it with his arrival, it's not played for subtlety but to establish his mystical charisma.The man, like Eastwood's seminal antihero, has no name, he is called the Preacher. He doesn't quote the Bible much but he saves the day in more than one occasion, without leaving mortal casualties... not yet anyway. He accepts to help the miners, but they didn't ask for help, just for him to stay as if his presence was healing their spirit already. But Eastwood counterbalances the sanctification with the idea of a pending doom. His entrance coincides with a 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse' recitation and he obviously fits the description of "Death". But as he said it himself: "God works in a mysterious way", you can't explain providence, but you just can tell that there's something providential about the man, even if he means Death.And in the same vein of intelligence, it also means that there's something 'evil' about LaHood even if he means Progress. He knows "blood is a big expense" and tries to get the Preacher out through bargains and only resorts to violence in extreme cases, but for all his malevolence, he's got a business to run, and his interactions with this son a youngish and thin Chris Penn and his men aren't those of an evil mastermind briefing his troops. There even comes a point where the Preacher starts to negotiate with LaHood, and submit his offer to the miners. Intelligently enough, the Western is able to deconstruct a few tropes for the sake of three-dimensional characterization.On a similar level, it also depicts Hull Barrett Michael Moriarty not as a Beta Male but as a decent human being, brave enough to defy LaHood's thugs, to support his family and to take care of Sarah, Megan's mother Carrie Snodgress , even waiting that she makes up her mind to get married but as the Preacher said "it might be along wait". It might take longer as both daughter and mother are infatuated with the Preacher can we blame them? but while it's a sort of teen crush for Megan, for Sarah, it's like a nasty teasing from fate. She's been abandoned by a man she truly loved -as she tells Megan she's a child of love- and her feelings toward the Preacher are worryingly the same.Maybe there's the idea that some things or some people are too grand to stay, their appeal is eternal but they're not meant for the common people though there is nobility in being a simple, decent and a hard-working human being. The Preacher incarnates an idea of the Old West: a few words, but action, spirit, courage and determination... and a few resurgences of the past here and there. The past is a lone rider throughout the story, it's the dog's death that trigger's Penny's desire for revenge, it's Sarah's past with men that forged her suspicion and made Hull her whipping boy, and there's something about the Preacher's past hinted through some wounds and lines of dialogues that take their full meaning when his nemesis is brought up in town: Marshal Stockburn played by an equally intimidating John Russell.The hints about the past mystify the film and let it venture in the realms of fantasy but without getting too far from the Western narrative. Eastwood's directing is confident enough and allows him to get away with contrivances... what can't be explained isn't forced fantasy, but meaningful mystery. Still, the greatest mystery of all is that it seems to have escaped everyone's attention that the film is a remake of "Shane", as there's no mention of "Shane" in Ebert's review, not even on Wikipedia!
Excellent and underrated western from Clint (by Leofwine_draca)
Here's another eerily evocative western from the undisputed master of the genre. PALE RIDER might well be my favourite Eastwood western yet: it's a perfectly made movie in which the star is at the top of his career both in terms of direction and acting. The plot itself is nothing remarkable – poor gold panners are hassled by a big wig business boss and a mysterious stranger turns up to fight for their cause – but it's the execution where this film excels. With a beautiful backdrop of mountainous scenery and a talented supporting cast, Eastwood delivers one of the finest <more>
westerns of the 1980s.I particularly enjoyed Eastwood's turn as the unnamed preacher in this one. It's a reprise of a similar character he played in HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, although his origins here are perhaps even more mysterious he shows up when one of the characters prays to God for a miracle . Michael Moriarty, the archetypal quirky star of '80s genre fare, has possibly his most sympathetic role as the family man striving to do good who finds himself outnumbered by the bad guys. Carrie Snodgress gives sterling support as the backbone of his family, and the beautiful young Sydney Penny is captivating as his young, innocent daughter. The bad guys are well supported, too, with a brief show-stopping turn from Richard Kiel, Chris Penn playing a typical sleaze, Richard Dysart as the bluff businessman, and the excellent John Russell as the sinister lawman with whom Eastwood's character has a score to settle.The story plays out pretty much as you'd expect, but there's an emphasis on plot and character over lame shoot-outs. The action, when it occurs, is stylishly done early on our hero kicks backside with a piece of wood in a scene that would act as inspiration for Steven Seagal's entire career , with the traditional shoot-out at the climax particularly accomplished. Overall, this is a moving production, with believable characters and a story arc that doesn't disappoint. An underrated favourite.
The Westerns is what gained Eastwood mainstream recognition, and he returns to prosperous grounds with this movie. Much like his character, he returns the Western from the dead and avenges their loss of appeal at the box office. A few years later, he was to strike gold with Unforgiven' and although this story is not as gripping as Unforgiven', it is well crafted with minor flaws. The similarities between this movie and his well-known Spaghetti Westerns are vast, but the difference lies with the superior quality. Once again he is the Man With No Name' defending the weak and <more>
settling an old score. Where this one differs from his earlier work is that the characters and dialogue are realistic surpassing the one dimension norm for the genre. The characters are credible in the sense that each has believable motivations for their actions. The Hood are motivated by their greed and the gold miners are motivated by their dreams. The credibility is thus intact with regards to the characters drives meaning that we now do not have to rely on suspension of disbelief as we witness the action unfold. The dialogue is in sync with each character. The Hood speaks with an educated tongue, but his desperation is apparent as the Preacher stands his ground. The miners speak with little sophistication thus reflecting their social status of the times. The Preacher speaks as we would expect The Man With No Name' to speak. He is cool and rational and what little is said carries a lot of weight. The dialogue thus enhances the rich diversity of characters. Of special note is the casting. All the actors are well suited to their roles. Stockburn and his deputies are particularly memorable. The deputies look like they are all recruits from Hollywood B type action movies. This by no means understates their significance. Instead of playing their usual outlandish bad guys, they relied on their natural ability to exude devilish intent. They look cold, dark and menacing. There was no dialogue which accentuated their malevolence - talk did not interest them. They were there to do a job and small talk was meaningless. Their movements were slow and methodical thus adding to their character's coldness and creating tension as the harbinger's of death prepared to deal out their own brand of justice the kind of justice that only dollars can buy. Although the screen time dedicated to these characters was limited, their impact was far greater. The casting of Stockburn as a Lee van Cleef look alike was also very good. This could be construed as a lack of originality, but it was ideal for the story. He looks like a weathered, tough baddie, much in line with the impression we have of those times as provided by Hollywood, who had dealt with many situations such as these with a cool, ruthless hand. His dialogue, with assistance from a menacing voice, mirrors his appearance hard and to the point. Eastwood is the archetypal Man With No Name'. His natural coolness forms the basis for the character. He has the ability to limit his dialogue and communicate to the audience with the assistance of minimal body language the emotions of his character. The sharpening of a glare was all he needed to show that he was a man with a past who could be dangerous. This was vital to the character since it helped create the enigmatic figure that the Preacher was supposed to be. An indication of the craft of the movie is the scene where the Preacher starts to help his freind break the rock. The rock became an obstacle that they would have to overcome and they began to realise that if they pulled together, not only could they beat the rock, but the Hood as well. Scenes such as this elevated this movie beyond the Spaghetti Western. Attention had been paid to the story and gratuitous action was obviously never the intention. This is not to say that the movie lacked action, it means that action scenes were an integral part of the story and not as eye candy offerings for a hormone charged audience. As well crafted as it is, it is not without flaws. The first is the scenes within the town. It is easy to tell that the town is a small set for the movie due to the camera angles. This became particularly evident when the Hood is trying to bribe the Preacher with an offer of a church in a rich town. This immediately draws attention to the shots within the town which thus highlights the flaw. I have not checked to see whether this is a consequence of a low budget, which would be feasible since Westerns were not as bankable at that time as they were in the past. Even with due consideration of this fact, the cinematographer could still have made more creative use of camera angles to negate this limiting factor. A more minor flaw is the how the character of Megan is used in the movie. The book has her name in the title which is indicative of the fact that the story is told through her eyes. The telling of a story through the eyes of a young innocent can add various dimensions to the story. The adventures that unfolds before her would have a greater impact on the audience since the struggles of a child will touch the audience more than that of an adults. People always sympathise for the young. It can add complexity to the story since a child's emotions and pre conceptions will create more opportunity for conflict. There was effort made in this direction, but I feel that if Megan had been given more opportunity to tell the story from her perspective, the story would have been more emotive appeal. Westerns will always have an audience, although their popularity may fluctuate over time. The lawlessness of the times set the stage for good storytelling and unfortunately also poor storytelling. In the past, they concentrated on a Hollywood B style movie with characters existing as an excuse to pull a trigger in the outlawed West. This formula worked for a while, but the stories lacked the substance to withstand the test of time. This has led to the present situation where the few that have now been on offer have shown an increase in quality. This is probably due to the fact that the limitation in audience appeal has meant that the story has to be of solid value in order to attract the investors. As with all genres, they have actors that are naturally adept to the role. Eastwood was such a man for the Westerns. We now wait for his successor to carry on the legacy of The Man With No Name'.
In the Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns of the 60s, Clint Eastwood rose to fame playing the man with no name. In 'Pale Rider', Eastwood creates his own variation of this character. Eastwood plays a mysterious gunfighter who is given the name 'preacher' because of the preacher's collar he wears. When the 'preacher' arrives at a gold mining community, he helps them stand up against a callous landowner.Eastwood cuts deep into the film's characters in what is a rather standard script. Particularly, in the scenes involving the preacher and a gold-mining family. <more>
Eastwood also succeeds in giving his film a dark atmosphere which only adds to its intensity.'Pale Rider' may not be as good as the director's best westerns, 'Unforgiven' and 'The Outlaw Josey Wales', but it can be regarded as a strong effort in what has been an illustrious career for Eastwood.Rating: 8/10
You can't beat a good bit of Hickory. (by Spikeopath)
The opening to Pale Rider is just excellent, at first all is calm and serene, but then the peace is shattered by the thundering of hooves. A group of men employed by Coy LaHood, tear thru a small mining community, shooting guns and trampling over all in their way. During this callous act of bullying, one of the men shoots and kills young Megan's dog. When Megan buries her beloved pet, she calls to god to send someone to help them against the greedy LaHood, because LaHood is intent on stripping the locals of their claims, and he literally will stop at nothing to get them. Later on Megan is <more>
reading from the bible, she reads aloud to her mother about "beholding a pale horse and that the man who sat on it was death", we then see a lone horseman riding towards this under fire place...Behold the pale horse because the man that sat on him was Clint Eastwood! And that's all you really want to know as regards what drives the film on. It had been quite some time since the movie watching world had witnessed a damn good Western, so it is obvious that Eastwood, knowing the genre inside out, felt it time to remind all and sundry about this engrossing genre and all its little peccadilloes. Riffing on his own High Plains Drifter from 1973 and homaging Shane in the process, Eastwood again uses supernatural leanings to play out this intriguing tale. Pale Rider works well because Eastwood cares for the genre so much, no frame is wasted and the acting on show delivers the necessary amount of quality to enhance the picture's impact. From the thundering opening to the gorgeous final shot, Pale Rider is an expertly crafted Western that still holds up today as a great entry on Eastwoods CV. Pale Rider. 8/10