HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER-United States-1973


Clint Eastwood as The Stranger

Clint Eastwood as The Stranger

Verna Bloom as Sarah Belding

Verna Bloom as Sarah Belding

Mariana Hill as Callie Travers

Mariana Hill as Callie Travers

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Written by Ernest Tidyman

Wait a minute; I’m reviewing a western movie on a horror movie blog site? It’s not the first time. As you recall I reviewed The Quick and the Dead here on this very blog. High Plains Drifter is a bit different from your traditional westerns. I like to call it “The Ambiguously Supernatural Western” I even came up with a catchy jingle for it:

High Plains Drifter

The Ambiguously Supernatural Western

It’s ambiguously supernatural

And it’s a Western

So why do I refer to the film by such a lighthearted moniker? The best answer to that would be because it is. Throughout the entire film I found myself wondering whether or not The Stranger (Clint Eastwood, screw the usual list of two or three previous films; you know who he is) was a vengeful spirit come to the town of Lago to exact revenge on the men who murdered him and the townsfolk who stood by and let it happen. The beginning and ending scenes are identical in that they show The Stranger appearing and disappearing in the distance as if he manifested and dissipated from thin air. There are also flashback sequences that will lead one to believe that if Sam and Dean Winchester had been alive in the Old West they would have been salting and burning the Stranger’s remains to rid Lago of his pesky spirit.

Of course, this being a western it must contain the things that one would find in a western. Let me expand on that; this being a Clint Eastwood western it must contain the things that one would find in a Clint Eastwood western and it does just that. As the Stranger, Eastwood is all steely-eyed cool as he guns down one man after the other and still has time to rape the womenfolk. I don’t condone the action of rape; but I do feel that this action helps to flesh out the character of the Stranger that much more. In between these activities the Stranger has time to put the town through its paces even to the point of painting it red and calling it Hell.

High Plains Drifter is Eastwood’s first western as a director and his second film overall. It is an offbeat film in the genre and that’s just the way Clint wanted it. After three classic films as the Man with No Name; he proves that he was paying attention to Sergio Leone and has indeed made a classic of his own.


One of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute.

The Bible verse on the wall of the church is Isaiah 53:3-4 which reads, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted”

Shortly after the film’s release, Clint Eastwood wrote to John Wayne, suggesting that they make a western together. Wayne sent back an angry letter in reply, in which he denounced this film for its violence and revisionist portrayal of the Old West. Eastwood did not bother to answer his criticisms, and consequently they did not work together.

Its seven minutes before Clint Eastwood says a word of dialogue, despite being in the film from the very first frame.

The first rape scene in a Clint Eastwood film, and he’s the one committing the act.



12 thoughts on “HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER

  1. I appreciate the write-up. Let me note that I don’t think that Wayne refused to work with Eastwood because of “High Plains Drifter,” but I’m sure that “High Plains Drifter” did not help.

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  3. I’m not so sure it was rape – she sure came asking, and went away all confused and blushing. She just had to know what it might be like. I think he stuck that in there as an ego stroke for himself. hahaha

    • I loved the line in the bathtub after she comes shooting up the place. “Why do you suppose it took her so long to get mad?” “Probably ’cause you didn’t go back for more.”

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