Tuesday, September 30, 2014

546. High Plains Drifter (1972)

Running Time: 105 minutes
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Ernest Tidyman
Main Cast: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Billy Curtis, Mariana Hill, Mitchell Ryan
Click here to view the trailer


So my wife and I have decided to make Tuesdays (which is basically our Saturday, as we have every single Tuesday and Wednesday off work) our day to have to ourselves. Basically after realizing that we like to spend Wednesdays together and that we like to spend our weekday evenings together and that I can't make it up past 10 o'clock anymore, I needed one day a week to do my thing and she agreed that she had things she'd like to do to. So it all worked out perfectly today, as I retired to my little TV watching room to feast on some Louie and finally catch High Plains Drifter which had been sitting on my side table for several weeks.

The film opens with Clint Eastwood riding a palomino into the town of Lago, where months earlier the Sheriff was whipped to death by three men and left to die in the middle of the street, while basically the whole town looked on in horror - just watching him die. Once there the stranger (we never get a proper name) wastes no time showing off his gunslinging skills, killing three who try to give him a hard time while he's getting a shave. During his first day in town he also manages to rape a woman, Callie Travers (Hill) and rile up just about everyone else. One thing the townspeople can agree on though is the fact that the man can handle his guns and with him on their side, they'd be invincible. Why do they need backup? Because the men who killed the Sheriff are getting out of jail and word has it that they're headed back to Lago and are none too happy. The townsfolk feel that when they get back, they're going to need the help of the stranger and his guns to survive or else the vicious three will see them dead. So, they make a deal with the stranger telling him that he can have anything he wants in the town for free in exchange for him teaching some of the residents of Lago how to shoot and sticking around to help deal with the three men himself. The stranger agrees and spends the better part of the middle portion of the film taking advantage of the townspeople, getting free drinks, free clothes and free everything and then devising a plan to paint the town red...literally. Meanwhile, the three men are loose and have already killed a party in order to take their horses and are headed back to Lago to get some revenge for the year of their life they lost.


THE BOOK notes that Clint Eastwood's character may have been the ghost of the dead Sheriff or maybe even his brother. I think that's a superb theory and furthermore, think the film would've benefited in including that little tidbit in, as the film needed a SOMETHING at the end to give it a little flair. I mean this film just felt so flat and severely lacked substance. Can someone explain to me the point of painting the town red and renaming it "Hell"? Or of setting up a picnic table and hanging a big sign out front that read "Welcome Home Boys"? Was this meant to be mind games on the part of the stranger so that he could throw the three men off guard? Was there ever any doubt in ANYONE'S mind that Eastwood's character was going to make short order of these three clowns? What I'm saying is the film was incredibly predictable and the ending left a lot to be desired. I kept thinking throughout that maybe the big payoff with the bed sheets and the two hundred gallons of red paint would all be worthwhile, but it wasn't and like I've already noted, it just didn't make much sense. Eastwood's character was a major bad ass who didn't need red buildings and mind games to overtake these three, who could've simply stood on the roof of the five & dime and took them out one by one as they rode into town, easy peasy.

Also, was anyone else thrown off by the fact that there wasn't anyone to really root for. They surely didn't expect me to root for Eastwood's stranger did they, a rapist? Furthermore, we couldn't get behind any of the Lagonians, since they were all cowards who stood by and watched as their Sheriff was bull whipped in the middle of town, bleeding to death before their eyes. No, I just couldn't settle into this one at all and while it wasn't even close to being the biggest waste of time THE BOOK has had me endure, it wasn't great by any means either. It seemed to me that what Eastwood was trying to say with his second directorial feature had already been said much better by the likes of Sergio Leone and his "Man With No Name" films. I mean, wasn't that what this was - just another of film with a man with no name, riding roughshod over town, taking laws into his own hands and being a bad ass. It had been done before - with the same actor no less. I'm not saying it couldn't have worked again, but I think that would have required a little more creativity on Eastwood's part and a much better, more imaginative script. This was just *blah* as is.

RATING: 5/10  Call it average. It went fairly fast for being close to two hours, it was just really easy to rip apart in the end.


September 30, 2014  5:41pm


  1. Ho hum...
    Well, I guess it rolled by without too much clock watching... but really nothing to recommend it, and I'd say easily droppable from the book as it's little more than a 'paint by numbers' Eastwood man with no name western. I feel 5 is a little on the generous side..

    1. Yeah, turns out the "Double Shot of Eastwood" was a bust, as you'll see in my upcoming review of Outlaw Josey Wales.


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