Speaks his mind on music & movies!
A lone rider comes riding out of the shimmering heat. He rides into a desolate town, Lago and makes his way down the main street. The town folk, which there aren’t many, watch the stranger do his slow ride. He hits the bar, has a drink and then goes to get a shave from the creepiest barber in the west. Three gunmen follow him to the barber shop where the stranger guns all three down. He makes his way to the hotel but has a run in with a nasty woman who he pulls into a barn and rapes. This all happens in the first few minutes. He gets a room, has a nap and dreams of a man (him?) being whipped by three men. The dream is engulfed in fire.
He awakes from his nap and is approached by the sheriff to take the job of protecting the town from three killers who are being released from prison and who are heading back to Lago for revenge. The Stranger turns him down but then he’s offered “anything he wants”. He takes the job and takes full advantage of the deal.
The three killers are released and make their way back to Lago. We find out that the town is hiding a couple of nasty secrets and has reason to fear the retribution coming their way. The story plays out up until the final confrontation with the Stranger exposing the part that everyone plays in Lago’s dark secrets.
CB loved this flick ( one of Eastwood’s best). It has a lot of the elements of a traditional western. Stranger rides into town, town folk scared, bad guys coming back for the big showdown (High Noon). But there are some twists and differences that separates it from the mainstream. For one it is really violent. Being whipped to death is pretty nasty. Rape is as violent as it gets. The usual gun play. But it’s the presence of the Stranger and who he really is that has the towns people feeling the guilt and secrets they’ve been carrying.
Clint does a good job behind and in front of the camera. His performance doesn’t stray too far from the iconic character he invented. It’s perfect for this film. The supporting cast runs the gamut of your western characters. They are all uniformly good. Verna Bloom, Geoffrey Lewis, Mariana Hill, Mitchell Ryan, Anthony James (His usual creepy), William O’Connell (worlds best comb over) and others get the job done. Billy Curtis as ‘Mordicai’ deserves special notice. Lots going on in his performance. Bruce Surtees’s cinematography puts you in the environment. You feel you’re there.
Lots of memorable scenes. Painting the town red, flash backs to the whipping. The Stranger collecting on anything he wants. CB was strapped in for this one.
So if you feel like a duster with a bit of a twist catch ‘High Plains Drifter’ it’s like “The Devil himself has rode into Lago”
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