A mysterious stranger rides into the town of Lago and is
hired by the townspeople to hold off a gang of outlaws.
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Directed by Clint Eastwood
Written by Ernest Tidyman
Starring Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill,
Mitchell Ryan, Jack Ging, Stefan Gierasch, Ted Hartley,
Billy Curtis, Geoffrey Lewis, Walter Barnes
High Plains Drifter is one of the most disappointing westerns I've ever seen. Clint Eastwood's usual one-note performance simply doesn't take here, with his character being an absolutely terrible human being who I simply cannot root for. I understand that one of the fundamental ideas of the western is "the outlaw with a heart of gold." I refuse to acknowledge that Eastwood's character of The Stranger has any heart at all.
Within a day of riding into town, The Stranger shoots three men dead and rapes a woman. This is supposed to be our hero, remember? He commits a rape (which the townspeople seem to defend for some reason) and is then hired to save the town. What the hell? Talk about a left turn. Amidst a sea of forgettable characters and an incoherent plot, we have what is essentially a maniac at the center who we as the audience are supposed to identify as the protagonist. And here I thought the hero was supposed to be a good guy, or at the very least possess some good qualities. Silly me.
In the end, this film makes very little sense and seems like just an American attempt to remake a spaghetti western. Hell, they even got Clint Eastwood to direct the film. I can't for the life of me fathom why this film is considered one of his most memorable westerns. Is it because people were so surprised by the drop in quality that they remembered it forever? Probably so, because High Plains Drifter completely pales in comparison to some of Eastwood's other classics and comes off as a bizarre disaster.