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High Plains Drifter

High Plains Drifter

4.5 2
Director: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Mitchell Ryan

Cast: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Mitchell Ryan


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Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter -- only the second movie he ever directed -- makes its second appearance on DVD in an edition altered only slightly from its first, mostly in the form of its design, which was restructured to bring it into line with the 2003 "Universal Western Collection," of which it is now a part, alongside classics such as Winchester


Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter -- only the second movie he ever directed -- makes its second appearance on DVD in an edition altered only slightly from its first, mostly in the form of its design, which was restructured to bring it into line with the 2003 "Universal Western Collection," of which it is now a part, alongside classics such as Winchester '73 and studio-generated filler such as The Redhead From Wyoming. (As few Eastwood fans need be told, High Plains Drifter is much closer in quality to the former than the latter.) The film-to-video transfer is a significant improvement over the old laserdisc edition, which was one of the earlier Universal letterboxed releases. It is sort of essential to see it in this format, as AMC -- where it turns up most frequently -- usually shows the movie full-frame; but even when they show the letterboxed version, they never air the R-rated cut with the uncensored language and violence. The 2.35:1 transfer offers good contrast and brings out such details as a wonderful shot eight and a half-minutes into the movie in which Eastwood's nameless stranger runs across to a trio of thugs at a saloon; his end of the shot is framed by his wide-brimmed hat, which, as he raises his head, reveals the presence of a further set of onlookers, including his soon-to-be-ally Mordecai (Billy Curtis). The detail of the transfer is exquisite, right down to the fabric of the wool blankets that Eastwood's stranger loads into the arms of a downtrodden Native American at the general store. One wishes there was an accompanying narration by Eastwood, but in its place there is a decent production history in the supplements, over a series of easy-to-access onscreen frames. One reason the movie has always looked as strange as it does is that Eastwood specifically chose to shoot it at the other end of California from Hollywood -- at Lake Mono in the California Sierras. He had the entire town, including interiors for all of the buildings, constructed to order from scratch, and shot everything there, adjacent to the lake, which had the helpful quality of changing its appearance and hue with virtually each new shot, adding to the unearthly feel of the action. The movie would probably have been better received by critics if it had not appeared in the wake of Dirty Harry, which had left most middle-of-the-road and liberal journalists and writers aghast, and also despising Eastwood. High Plains Drifter was a success despite mixed reviews, and has since come to be regarded as one of the most influential Westerns of the '70s. The other major supplement on the disc is the original trailer, which emphasizes the movie's violence more than its gallows humor and which has been modified into a mixture of full-screen and letterboxed shots. The menu must be accessed manually -- the disc goes automatically to the movie and startup mode -- and is easy to manipulate, going to a third layer in language selection (French, Spanish), with Spanish subtitles and English captions available. The 16 chapters fit the movie perfectly, covering every major scene.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
High Plains Drifter, Clint Eastwood's first Western behind the camera -- and only his second effort as a director, may owe a lot to his former collaborator Sergio Leone, but it also marks the point at which he begins to come into his own as an artist. The leisurely, dialogue-heavy asides may bog this film down at times, but it's an approach that would bear fruit later in Eastwood's directorial career. But Drifter works quite well even outside the context of Eastwood's other work, thanks to a harsh, wind-swept mysticism all its own. Leone and Eastwood's Man With No Name films helped usher in an era of revisionist Westerns, but with this film Eastwood doubles back, reconnecting those films' dark humor and mysterious loner character (introduced riding ominously through the entire length of a small town) to the realm of folk tale and myth. The script by Shaft author Ernest Tidyman is as unforgiving as its protagonist -- it might be argued that an early rape scene goes too far -- but there's no denying this film's unique appeal. It's a revisionist Western extreme even by the standards of the time. Like the Machiavellian hero who defends it, the film looks upon a superficially idyllic Western setting and finds virtually nothing to like.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Production notes; Talent bios; Film highlights; Theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Clint Eastwood Stranger
Verna Bloom Sarah Belding
Marianna Hill Callie Travers
Mitchell Ryan Dave Drake
Jack Ging Morgan Allen
James Gosa Tommy Morris
Stefan Gierasch Mayor Jason Hobart
Mitch Regan Actor
Billy Curtis Mordecai
Scott Walker Bill Borders
Walter Barnes Sheriff Sam Shaw
Robert Donner Preacher
Anthony James Cole Carlin
John Quade Jake Ross
Jane Aull Townswoman
Dan Vadis Dan Carlin
Reid Cruickshanks Gunsmith
Jack Kosslyn Saddlemaker
Russ McCubbin Fred Short
Belle Mitchell Mrs. Lake
John Mitchum Warden
Carl Pitti Teamster
Chuck Waters Stableman
L. William O'Connell Barber
Ted Hartley Lewis Belding
Geoffrey Lewis Stacey Bridges
Paul Brinegar Lutie Naylor
Richard Bull Asa Goodwin
John Hillerman Bootmaker
Buddy Van Horn Marshall Jim Duncan

Technical Credits
Clint Eastwood Director
James Alexander Sound/Sound Designer
Dee Barton Score Composer
Henry Bumstead Art Director
Robert Daley Producer
Jim Fargo Asst. Director
Jennings Lang Executive Producer
George Milo Set Decoration/Design
Bruce Surtees Cinematographer
Ernest Tidyman Screenwriter
Buddy Van Horn Stunts
Ferris Webster Editor

Scene Index

Side #1 --
0. Chapter List
1. Main Titles: The Stranger [7:12]
2. Encounter At The Saloon [6:16]
3. The Stranger Gets Acquainted [4:47]
4. A Dream [4:53]
5. A Hot Bath [3:17]
6. The Town Council [3:16]
7. Anything You Want [8:50]
8. Volunteers [11:22]
9. The Gunfighter Stays [5:38]
10. Remembering [8:39]
11. The Church Meeting [6:50]
12. A New Room [7:28]
13. The Ambush [8:12]
14. Trouble Rides To Town [6:19]
15. The Stranger Returns [9:46]
16. The Name On The Grave (End Titles) [2:01]


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High Plains Drifter 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago