Sunday, July 24, 2011

High Plains Drifter

A drifter rides into a small southern town and is greeted with unwelcoming gazes from its residents as he passes by. Confronted by three men in the saloon, he soon takes them out when they make a move when he is having a shave across the street. Due to the fact that the three dead men were hired to protect the town as well as the gunfighter's considerable skills, the townspeople hire him to stave off three convicts about to be released whom the local mining company railroaded a few year's back. Yet this is not a simple revenge story, and the town may have bit off more than they can chew with the gunfighter who may have motives of his own and what awaits all involved is a showdown of biblical proportions. In his second film as a director, Clint Eastwood plays The Stranger character that brought him so much acclaim in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy. High Plains Drifter is an antiwestern, competently directed by Eastwood which maintains an eerie mood and incorporates supernatural elements into its story. It is unlike most other Westerns as it presents a reprehensible hero and acts as a treatise against cowardice and religious hypocrisy. Actor Geoffrey Lewis also adds to the picture making an extremely effective villain. I read that crowds ate this up when released, but I am curious how they reacted to Clint's character. I was taken aback in an early scene when he is confronted by a fiery woman and drags her by her hair to a barn and essentially rapes her, and his behavior remains despicable throughout the picture. High Plains Drifter is a fresh take on a genre that can seem generic at times, and the eerie mood sustained in the film make this a fine entry.