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Call it a required bit of man-hood or necessary part of the American life-style, but at some time in his life, every man desires to ride the prairie with no worries but what kind of beans are for dinner and where the next saloon is.  Short of stealing a horse and shooting a cowardly sheriff, the best way to satisfy this dream is to grab the nearest Clint Eastwood film, settle in, and enjoy every moment.  Having just finished the “Man With No Name” trilogy, I had to watch more Eastwood (much, much more).

I would have loved to have written about Fistful of Dollars, For A Few Dollars More, and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly… but enough wonderful things have been said about these classic pieces of cinema… and I have very little to add.  So I took it upon myself to write about Clint Eastwood’s 1973 film High Plains Drifter.

High Plains Drifter, Eastwood’s first self-direcrted Western is a gritty portrayal of a story you’ve seen a million times before… from Blazing Saddles, to Bug Bunny…A stranger wanders into town and saves the timid town-folk from a wiley gang of hoodlums.

Does that make this film a tired re-telling of a worn-out story?  Not in the least bit.

This film stands out among Eastwood’s other films in more ways than one.  While many characters and heroes in Westerns are cardboard cutouts of good and evil (with intentions as clear as day), High Plains Drifter leaves you guessing at every second about “The Stranger’s” intentions and what he will do next.

High Plains Drifteris  a story of a corrupt mining town that hires an un-named drifter to protect them from a gang of gun-fighters.  The film begins with a haunting score and images of Eastwood’s character riding into the small desolate town looking for a drink of whiskey and a hot bath.  Quickly we see the dark nature of the towns-folk and “The Stranger’s” ability to swiftly deal with them. Without a moment’s notice, we have three dead-bodies in a film that has only begun.

I will stop giving away the finer plot-points here, because you should go into this film knowing as little as possible and enjoy the ride.  I applaud this movie for always keeping me guessing, exploiting curruption and cowardice, and even thorowing in elements of the supernatural. Not to mention you’ll see where the term “paint the town red” originated.
So put High Plains Drifter at the top of your list of films to see, and thank me later.

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