Movies that are slightly off.
High Plains Drifter
Welcome to Hell
A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago. After gunning down three gunmen who tried to kill him, the townsfolk decide to hire the Stranger to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.
With High Plains Drifter, Clint Eastwood created arguably the most debatable and ambiguous film of his entire career - both as an actor and as a director. There is so much about this eerie western that doesn't get answered. So many details missing. So many presumptions to be made.
Most revisionist westerns of its time were busying themselves rewriting the West as it had been told by Hollywood, mostly wrongly, for over 40 years. Eastwood decided to take the traditional mainstream western, slap it around a while and show that something could still be done with it - just as long as it was willing to change.
It's well known by now that Eastwood's mysterious stranger rides into a town…
The Stranger: All these people, are they your sisters and brothers?
Preacher: They most certainly are.
The Stranger: ...Then you won't mind if they come over and stay at your place, will ya?
And when the preacher's stunned, passive look further betrays his hypocrisy, Eastwood, not content, has the holy man graciously invite the cast-out patrons into his and the other townspeople's homes... not charging them "one cent more than regular hotel rates."
A relentlessly bleak allegory of the human (American?) capacity for cowardice and avarice, with Eastwood's Stranger an almost Chigurh-like supernatural presence – slightly funnier, and only slightly more righteous.
"Yes, they're my neighbors, and they make me sick! Hiding behind words like faith, peace and trust!"
Black-as-pitch western about a community so desperately in need of a violent savior that they give a serial rapist complete control over their town in order to kill off a few bad guys. Turns out they might have bigger problems than the bandits. By giving the man with no name free reign, they expose their own hidden violence and the hypocritical values they've buried it under. They've come together as a community, but at the cost of the lives of other human beings. The unspoken exclusion (of the bandits, of the man with…
I've reviewed High Plains Drifter before and I pretty much echo everything I said in that review, albeit with a few additions.
There has been a mountain of debate over the years about the film's rape scene (it still staggers me that people even question whether it is rape or not) but I think it is a scene that is an ends to a means. High Plains Drifter is a necessarily mean-spirited and problematic western, particularly directed as it is by an icon of the genre. What's interesting, of course, is that Clint Eastwood hadn't even been making westerns for that long, yet he still had enough of a grasp on it to make this scything critique of many of…
Somebody left the door open and the wrong dogs came home.
Everyone probably expected Clint Eastwood's directorial debut to be a western, but he opted to make a thriller in Play Misty for Me instead while ignoring what would have been a sure fire bet. For his sophomore effort, Eastwood might have thought there was no use putting it off, so he directed his first western, except High Plains Drifter is unlike any western Eastwood had starred in before and unlike most westerns ever made.
Don't waste your time on revenge, those that hurt you will eventually face their own karma, right? Well, thank god nobody told Clint.
A malevolently vengeful Eastwood, like the boss he is, rolls into town and Casper spanks everybody in this movie and its glorious.
Another eerily good and entertaining entry from the undisputed heavyweight champion of this beautiful genre. Boo!
A nasty, brutish western with a supernatural twist. It opens like many a classic Clint Eastwood western. A Man with No Name rides into town, and his mysterious presence immediately causes a stir among the skittish townspeople. He is the meanest bastard Eastwood has ever played, a cold-blooded murderer and rapist. The town has a troubled history. We see flashbacks of its former sheriff being whipped to death by hired killers, while the townspeople stand by and do nothing. Without stating it outright, the film eventually makes it clear that Eastwood is the sheriff's spirit, returned from the grave to seek vengeance and expose the communal sins of this cowardly town. Despite his righteous anger, he's no hero, merely a…
The film's queasy attitude towards women is hard to shake, as is Eastwood's almost purposeless nihilist approach to the genre. He clearly wants to deconstruct the tropes of the Western, but doesn't seem to have anything of substance to say.
Clinton With A Whip
An enjoyable western, filled with some memorable one liners, but I'm not sure whether the misogyny is justified or exploitative.
I'm kind of at a loss for words as to how I felt about this movie. I hadn't read any reviews of it going in so that first rape scene caught me really off-guard. Like I couldn't focus on the next 10 or so minutes of film because I was so befuddled by the intent. Was Clint Eastwood really just a shitty guy taking advantage of '70s-era misogyny? Or was it some sort of critique on spaghetti western misogyny? I just couldn't figure it out. But what that scene did do is add to this movie's eerie, dread-inducing atmosphere. Apart from any scene involving anyone lacking a dick, this is a great western. Eastwood has some great quips, but the…
I enjoyed this film in the sense that you can already see the fragility of the Western as a genre falling apart. Here though the pieces that remain help to trace the burgeoning acid western subgenre that would emerge.
As far as western revisionism goes, this does a good job at taking every preconceived notion of what this genre should offer and throws it out. Our protagonist is not only an asshole but a rapist too. The misogyny integrated in the genre is as overt as possible here. Basically none of the characters are redeemable.
Instead of good guy shoots bad guys and everyone is happy, this presents a weirder, fucked up take on the narrative with a cynical perspective. It's more disturbing than exciting. I look forward to revisiting this.
First off, this is a not-so-very original shout-out to Leone and his films. The problem is that very rarely do these shout-outs be so on-the-nose as to feature the exact same actor that was featured in that trilogy.
Secondly, the one way the character is different than in Leone's trilogy is that Eastwood made him 100% more rapey with the very inexcusable justification of "well it looked like they liked it". Not a great choice there.
And finally, the narrative plays out as an extremely conventional revenge Western, even echoing some of aspects of Yojimbo (which, as you probably know, was already adapted as a Western in "A Fistful of Dollars). So all in all, it's a not so original story with not so original direction with a not so original character who has a neanderthalic treatment of women.
Supremely creepy and effective, though I had troubles with the rampant misogyny on display here. I guess you could make the argument that it's symptomatic of the genre as a whole, but it feels rather perverse and disgusting here. Nearly turned me off the whole thing.
What the film does best, I think, is reveal the true horror underpinning the entire genre; it is, after all, one based almost entirely in death. The imagery and thematics at play here are truly chilling; that iconic shot of Clint, complete with long coat and high hat, in front of the raging inferno, swinging his whip, is incredibly terrifying.
Western revisionism doesn't get any darker than this.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
Combined the average ratings (Critic's & Users) from IMDb, Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and Letterboxd, and then weighted and tweaked the results…