FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “High Plains Drifter” stars Clint Eastwood (The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Gran Torino), Verna Bloom (After Hours, The Last Temptation of Christ), Marianna Hill (The Godfather: Part II, Medium Cool), Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon, Dark Shadows [TV series]), Stefan Gierasch (Carrie , The Hustler), Geoffrey Lewis (Double Impact, The Devil’s Rejects), Robert Donner (Cool Hand Luke, Vanishing Point), and Billy Curtis (The Terror of Tiny Town, Saboteur). It is directed by Clint Eastwood and is written by Ernest Tidyman (Shaft, The French Connection). When a stranger (Eastwood) rides into a small town, he is asking for trouble. Once he disrupts the peace of their lives, the civilians want him gone, but unfortunately need him when a ruthless gang of criminals are let out of prison and are set to take the town in a revenge attack on who put them there.
Wanting to saddle up for another Clint Eastwood western, I picked up “High Plains Drifter,” as it has received good reviews out of some of my other choices to choose from. I knew walking in that I wouldn’t be granted as great of an experience as “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” but I was willing to give this one a shot because it has Clint Eastwood and the plot summary sounded cool. Of course, Eastwood is assuming his role as an unknown man riding into a small town only to have to vanquish trouble for the townsfolk, but there are a few twists and spins on this plot that make it fresh. Something I must talk about first when discussing this film is its location. My goodness, did they pick a fantastic one! I’m not usually one to babble on about a movie’s setting, but this one was beautiful. It was a little town, built specifically for this film, on the coast next to some crystal clear water. Watching this on Blu-ray, I could bask in the deep, crisp blues of the ocean, the puff-ball white clouds in the sky, and the nice, small orange houses that littered the coastline. It was a site to see, and I enjoyed just looking at it alone. The acting in this was really good, with everyone playing their part well and not overacting (at least not most of the time). Clint Eastwood never ceased to amaze me, and even though he didn’t give too much emotion, he sure did look epic with his iconic squinty eyes and cool-guy voice. What caught me off guard though was how much of a jerk his character was. In this release, something I liked was how there was really no hero. Although the film might suggest that Eastwood is the town’s savior, he does some messed up stuff, including burning houses, killing people, and raping women. What makes this story so compelling is the fact that the town still needs him, for none of them can stop the ruthless gang who is coming back for them to exact their revenge. The town has a dirty secret of their own, and it is interesting to see unfold. Most of the runtime is spent on foreboding dialogue, witty lines, and preparing for a battle, which comes at the very end. I liked the build-up, but I will admit to it being choppy. Eastwood’s directing was great, but there were certain things that felt unexplained or off about the story. One example would be Eastwood’s plan. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it involves a few things that I didn’t quite get, one being picnic tables. He asked of some Hispanics to build him a set of picnic tables, which I thought they would be eating at, but they were never used for anything, and it never was explained. The writer may have been alluding to something, but I didn’t catch it. In talking about this movie being choppy, I would say that the story can feel loose. It took a while for me to realize the hook of this plot (when I did, it was great), and before then I was just seeing Eastwood take over the town. Nothing much happened except for the fact that the townsfolk were getting antsy and upset. After watching it, I could see why most of the time was spent on this, in breaking down the lessons and flashbacks, but before then it just felt like filler. I could see where some people may not like this movie, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. This isn’t one of the greats like a Sergio Leone film, but it definitely is worth watching, and I would recommend any western fan to check it out. It may have its kinks, but I enjoyed watching it! FINAL SCORE: 82%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: