High Plains Drifter (Eastwood, 1973)

This review contains spoilers.

High Plains Drifter (Clint Eastwood, 1973)

Yes, I’m sort of jumping around Clint Eastwood’s filmography randomly. High Plains Drifter is one of the best I’ve seen and one of the most interesting. Part western, part ghost story, part comedy, this film really takes its viewers for a ride. As the film begins, we’re introduced to a merciless anti-hero as he rides silently into a small town, noticed by everyone, and immediately finds himself in a fight with the local hired gunslingers. The townspeople, in fear of the return a trio of soon-to-be released prisoners who they helped put away, hire the stranger to help protect him.

From here, everything gets insane. The stranger walks all over the townspeople, appoints the local dwarf to be sheriff, kicks people out of the hotel, and seduces any woman he wants. And that’s the least of the damage he does. (And a lot of it is darn funny.) As the film continues, viewers get glimpses of flashbacks where it seems the stranger is being whipped to death by the same people he now resides among. The entire things is very eerie, slightly ambiguous, and I kept wondering how in the heck these people didn’t recognize this man (and we never really get an answer, though I finally gathered that he’s the ex-marshall’s ghost, out for revenge). Eastwood has created a world off by itself that really sticks with you, and even haunts you. The strange sound editing adds to the atmosphere, and the cinematography also gets a thumbs up. Great movie.  9/10


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