Recently released on Blu-ray, High Plains Drifter is one of my favorite Clint Eastwood films. Eastwood stars as the nameless Stranger who wanders into the lawless western mining town of Lago. After dispatching three outlaws with relative ease, the town decides to hire the Stranger to deal with three gunfighters (Geoffrey Lewis, Anthony James, Dan Vadis) on their way back to the town which allowed, and then jailed, the outlaws for killing the town’s sheriff.
The Stranger agrees, but decides to take payment for his services in unusual ways, including raping own of the women folk (Marianna Hill) who gets in his way, making the town jester (Billy Curtis) the new sheriff, and ordering the entire town to paint every building in Lago bright red.
Although High Plains Drifter isn’t exactly subtle, the allegory of vengeance works well as the audience, but not the towns folk, will soon guess who the Stranger is and what brought him to Lago.
Shot completely on location near Mono Lake, California, the film was one of the most profitable westerns of the 1970’s, although it’s $15.7 million seems rather paltry by today’s standards. Eastwood would return to revisit very similar themes more than a decade later with Pale Rider, which while good on its own is (forgive me the pun) a pale imitation of High Plains Drifter. Other than the film’s trailer and a digital copy of the movie, the Blu-ray is sadly without any extras.
[Universal Studios, $19.98]