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Author Topic: High Plains Drifter (1973)  (Read 14905 times)
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« Reply #30 on: October 15, 2009, 02:50:52 PM »

I don't know how come I didn't rate this W before... Undecided

High Plains Drifter was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, I don't know, I just loved every bit of it, from the story to the characters, everything. Actually one of the rare few AWs that were dear to me at the time, cause I grew up watching mostly SWs. And I still like it enough to watch it from time to time, but I just can't help to think how much better would it have been if directed by someone with a little more sensitivity for visual imagery. Now, I can't object to any scene in particular, they seem done relatively well from the technical point of view, but they very often feel so crude you could almost cut them one by one with a knife and toss on a barbecue to get more taste and juice out of them. For example: in the whole movie we get only two panoramic views (that I can remember) of the fictional town of Lago (built on the shores of Mono Lake (CA) just for filming purposes), of which none is memorable, let alone breathtaking (as they should be).  


7.45/10

« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 02:52:48 PM by Dust Devil » Logged



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« Reply #31 on: October 15, 2009, 05:15:25 PM »

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=148.0

The opening mirage/ghost sequense was beautiful the music equally great, I would have thought it was Morricone, and Its a good story, the avenging gunfighter returns to punnish the townfolk and the released outlaws responsible for murdering the sheriff, framed by the same. This is definitely the most spahgetti like of Clints American westerns, I agree.  And it does have good story elements. But here is the flaw, aside from Geoffry Lewis (a very good character actor), Paul Brinegar "Whisbone" (from Rawhide) and Billy Curtis as Mordecai, who were great, it could have used some strong big name actor/s to play opposite Clint as the chief villian. Whats lacking in Clints American westerns is Leone's way of casting stars out of character that worked so well to keep audiences on edge.  Its all probably got something to do with lower budgets, and the fact that the movies were shot here in expensive America, Leone got more bang for the buck in Spain.

The movies location was definitely different, and it probably should have shown much more of it, in Leone's epics the sweeping landscapes had a lot to with the feel of the movies and were just as much a part of the film as Morricone's music.  Leones big landscapes were even bigger because he amplified the sounds to an un-natural volume, crows cawing, endless wind, mechanical creaks, steam hissing, hooves pounding.  The town setting seems just a tadd  too constrained, some of the story elements should have been moved to other locations. The mine owners storyline could have taken place at the mine which would have given the opportunity for another location. The town set itself seemed to be built on the cheap, look at the realistic mining boom towns in "Paint your Wagon" or "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" Also seemed to lack extras which would have given the town more of a boom atmosphere to go with its shinny new penny look.

Painting the town red was a great touch, and the burning down of most of it was good too, but again the climax should have been more Leonesque.  Again overall good with what seemed to me a fatal flaw that being too low a budget.



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« Reply #32 on: October 15, 2009, 09:18:12 PM »

Also seemed to lack extras which would have given the town more of a boom atmosphere to go with its shinny new penny look.


I think making the town look more populated would have deflated the creepy atmosphere the film exudes.

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« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2009, 08:52:45 AM »

I missed that whole topic somehow...

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=148.0

The opening mirage/ghost sequense was beautiful the music equally great, I would have thought it was Morricone, and Its a good story, the avenging gunfighter returns to punnish the townfolk and the released outlaws responsible for murdering the sheriff, framed by the same. This is definitely the most spahgetti like of Clints American westerns, I agree.  And it does have good story elements.

But here is the flaw, aside from Geoffry Lewis (a very good character actor), Paul Brinegar "Whisbone" (from Rawhide) and Billy Curtis as Mordecai, who were great, it could have used some strong big name actor/s to play opposite Clint as the chief villian. Whats lacking in Clints American westerns is Leone's way of casting stars out of character that worked so well to keep audiences on edge.  Its all probably got something to do with lower budgets, and the fact that the movies were shot here in expensive America, Leone got more bang for the buck in Spain.

I actually think Clint did a good job with the casting, all the characters/actors had strong and interesting faces, and aside from sometimes going over the top with the silliness and clownishness of expression, they brought to the movie what they were supposed to. The mitigating circumstance for most/all of them is that (I think) Clint wanted them to be that way in first place, so that he can be the mean authoritative macho of a figure. It's like what must have crossed everybody's mind while watching Mordecai: OK, you made him the sheriff and mayor and what else not, it's funny, yeah, but now ''retire'' him, cause it's becoming boring watching him parading around. I don't know if this can all be attributed to the low budget, as much to Clint Eastwood's personal preferences.

The movies location was definitely different, and it probably should have shown much more of it, in Leone's epics the sweeping landscapes had a lot to with the feel of the movies and were just as much a part of the film as Morricone's music.  Leones big landscapes were even bigger because he amplified the sounds to an un-natural volume, crows cawing, endless wind, mechanical creaks, steam hissing, hooves pounding.  The town setting seems just a tadd  too constrained, some of the story elements should have been moved to other locations. The mine owners storyline could have taken place at the mine which would have given the opportunity for another location. The town set itself seemed to be built on the cheap, look at the realistic mining boom towns in "Paint your Wagon" or "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" Also seemed to lack extras which would have given the town more of a boom atmosphere to go with its shinny new penny look.

Yeah, that's what I was aiming at too. We partially see the town of Lago and then we see nothing else, nothing around it and not much inside it. If we exclude Lago, the next potentially very interesting location was the prison in the desert where the three thugs were stayin' at. But no, again, in strange circumstances we see only the gate. Now it can be the prison wasn't (built) there at all, but after Lago gets wasted without dignity, it makes you wonder.

Painting the town red was a great touch, and the burning down of most of it was good too, but again the climax should have been more Leonesque.  Again overall good with what seemed to me a fatal flaw that being too low a budget.

One word that sums all the movie up is - crudeness. Starting from the directing to all else. Everything seems to be missing a pinch or two of something, and it's a real pity, it was a good story.

« Last Edit: October 16, 2009, 08:55:49 AM by Dust Devil » Logged



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« Reply #34 on: March 05, 2011, 11:11:39 PM »

I just saw "High Plains Drifter," on AMC. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. Overall, I did not love the film as much as many people on the board seem to.

2. I am sure every Leone fan immediately thought of Fistful of Dollars, from the opening sequences and throughout the film.

3. I REALLY did like the filming of the scenes where Clint is riding through town; instead of simply showing him riding, the camera repeatedly uses POV shots, of both the townspeople and him. (Actually, since Clint never turns his head while he is riding, it is not really his POV; it's more like the POV of his horse's ass  Wink

4. There were other scenes, especially nighttime scenes, where I did not like the camera's use of repeatedly switching focus.

5. The Mordecai character was great; the wry humor of Clint (eg. making Mordecai the sheriff and mayor, giving the kids the free candy, making everyone paint the town red, etc.) was really funny. Some of this is very much like Leone - understated comedic gags at the expense of some unfortunate people!

6. Great location for the filming; the town is absolutely gorgeous.

7. Some people here have mentioned John Wayne's thoughts on the film. Here is what I read on Wikipedia (ordinarily I trust Wikipedia less than my neighbor's cat, but at least part of this seems to have a citation):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Plains_Drifter#Reception
It says:

John Wayne was offered a role in the film and was sent the script, but replied to Eastwood some weeks after the film was released, expressing disapproval, saying that "the townspeople did not represent the true spirit of the American pioneer, the spirit that made America great". (the citation is to Schickel's book).

It is interesting to compare this to Wayne's well-known criticisms of High Noon. I am no expert or historian on John Wayne, but perhaps I can guess that Wayne took the Western, and the history of the American West very, very seriously, and was loathe to treat it in the irreverent manner that others (including the Spaghetti Westerns) did. Just a guess.

8. As I said, I saw it on AMC; of course it was shown in HD full-screen, which is 16:9. Interestingly, by the last shot of the film (when Clint is riding away from the cemetery), suddenly the picture switches to letterbox (ie. there were black bars on top and bottom of the screen). Weird stuff; I have never seen that happen before. I'd appreciate if anyone knows what that is all about.

9. I am not a huge fan of  the "supernatural" stuff. I wish it had just turned out that the dead sheriff was Clint's father or something (I have read that on international prints, he was indeed Clint's brother; but on USA prints, it was intentionally left ambiguous). (eg. see the last few sentences of the "Production" section http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Plains_Drifter#Production ). If, as he was riding away, when Mordecai asked him his name, he woulda just said somethin like "Jim Duncan... Junior, I would have preferred that. (Come to think of it, that woulda been similar to Lee Van cleef in FAFDM; explaining the whole movie with the simple words "naturally, between brother and sister.")



« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 12:30:34 AM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: March 06, 2011, 12:13:18 AM »

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John Wayne was offered a role in the film and was sent the script, but replied to Eastwood some weeks after the film was released, expressing disapproval, saying that "the townspeople did not represent the true spirit of the American pioneer, the spirit that made America great". (the citation is to Schickel's book).

It is interesting to compare this to Wayne's well-known criticisms of High Noon. I am no expert or historian on John Wayne, but perhaps I can guess that Wayne took the Western, and the history of the American West very, very seriously, and was loathe to treat it in the irreverent manner that others (including the Spaghetti Westerns) did. Just a guess.

Or, one could say that he was (in conjunction with a few other things) very, very opinionated. (To say at least.)

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« Reply #36 on: March 06, 2011, 12:18:55 AM »

9. I am not a huge fan of  the "supernatural" stuff. I wish it had just turned out that the dead sheriff was Clint's father or something (I have read that on international prints, he was indeed Clint's brother; but on USA prints, it was intentionally left ambiguous). (eg. see the last few sentences of the "Production" section http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Plains_Drifter#Production ). If, as he was riding away, when Mordecai asked him his name, he woulda just said somethin like "Jim Duncan... Junior) I would have preferred that. (Come to think of it, that woulda been similar to Lee Van cleef in FAFDM; explaining the whole movie with the simple words "naturally, between brother and sister.")

I am a huge fan of the ''supernatural stuff''', not only in this movie but in general, but the fact is Clint didn't have the necessary skills to pull it off. Back then for sure, don't know now. The atmosphere more than anything else, I mean. Then again, had the atmosphere been thicker, more menacing and there from the very start, everybody would have guessed right away the direction of the movie, and who/what the mysterious drifter was. So, in the end, taking everything into consideration (script, etc.), this movie is what it is, and I don't think it could have been anything else.

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« Reply #37 on: March 06, 2011, 12:35:27 AM »

I am a huge fan of the ''supernatural stuff''', not only in this movie but in general, but the fact is Clint didn't have the necessary skills to pull it off. Back then for sure, don't know now. The atmosphere more than anything else, I mean. Then again, had the atmosphere been thicker, more menacing and there from the very start, everybody would have guessed right away the direction of the movie, and who/what the mysterious drifter was. So, in the end, taking everything into consideration (script, etc.), this movie is what it is, and I don't think it could have been anything else.

I like to imagine that a movie "could have happened," so to speak. Of course, some suspension of disbelief is always required, but in that context, I prefer it when movies "could have happened" rather than just total fantasy.

This is a very important thing for me; eg. even in action movies, I really don't like when the action is waaaay over the top. My most recent example is Die Hard 4. Even by Die hard standards, the action sequences in that movie were so absolutely ridiculous -- it may as well have been a video game -- I just did not enjoy the movie at all.

So I am not into this sort of supernatural or science fiction stuff whatsoever. The only movie with these elements that I can say I really like is "The Shining." (though to be honest, I haven't watched many; cuz the whole concept of supernatural annoys me  Wink

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« Reply #38 on: March 06, 2011, 04:00:08 AM »

This is one of my main complaints on this film I think it was a lost opportunity.

The movies location was definitely different, and it probably should have shown much more of it, in Leone's epics the sweeping landscapes had a lot to with the feel of the movies and were just as much a part of the film as Morricone's music.  Leone's big landscapes were even bigger because he amplified the sounds to an un-natural volume, crows cawing, endless wind, mechanical creaks, steam hissing, hooves pounding.  The town setting seems just a tadd  too constrained at bit too "quaint", some of the story elements should have been moved to other locations to open things up. The mine owners storyline could have taken place at the mine which would have given the opportunity for another location. The town set itself seemed to be built on the cheap, look at the realistic looking mining boom towns in "Paint your Wagon" or "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" Also seemed to lack extras which would have given the town more of a boom atmosphere to go with its shinny new penny look.

You may find this thread interesting:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=148.0

« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 04:06:49 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #39 on: March 06, 2011, 03:45:51 PM »

This is one of my main complaints on this film I think it was a lost opportunity.

The movies location was definitely different, and it probably should have shown much more of it, in Leone's epics the sweeping landscapes had a lot to with the feel of the movies and were just as much a part of the film as Morricone's music.  Leone's big landscapes were even bigger because he amplified the sounds to an un-natural volume, crows cawing, endless wind, mechanical creaks, steam hissing, hooves pounding.  The town setting seems just a tadd  too constrained at bit too "quaint", some of the story elements should have been moved to other locations to open things up. The mine owners storyline could have taken place at the mine which would have given the opportunity for another location. The town set itself seemed to be built on the cheap, look at the realistic looking mining boom towns in "Paint your Wagon" or "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" Also seemed to lack extras which would have given the town more of a boom atmosphere to go with its shinny new penny look.

You may find this thread interesting:

http://www.fistful-of-leone.com/forums/index.php?topic=148.0


well as I've noted in my previous post, this movie certainly reminds us of FOD (though I don't know if Clint meant it as an intentional reference)... so I guess it is only fitting that the whole movie basically takes place in one town, with no extras, and few landscapes  Wink

you are definitely right about the sounds; Frayling frequently quotes Leone as saying that sound is at least 40% of a movie. This concept is prevalent throughout Leone's films (reaching its apex in the opening scene of OUATITW)

« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 04:03:49 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #40 on: January 03, 2013, 03:03:19 PM »

y'all know that Intrada records has released the soundtrack of this, right?

only took 40 years Grin

in addition to the very cool music in the film there are several tracks that were dropped, notably the score for the training sequence with the wagon

check it out!!!
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« Reply #41 on: January 03, 2013, 03:34:50 PM »

y'all know that Intrada records has released the soundtrack of this, right?

only took 40 years Grin

in addition to the very cool music in the film there are several tracks that were dropped, notably the score for the training sequence with the wagon

check it out!!!
bruce

sounds interesting  Afro

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« Reply #42 on: November 18, 2013, 07:03:19 AM »

Blu-ray.com has some great news about the new BD transfer:

Quote
In a rare show of catalog interest, Universal has issued a fresh scan of this 1973 feature. The AVC encoded image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) presentation provides a crisp, clean HD appearance, with only a mild amount of filtering to manage the grain, not erase it. Detail is superb, isolating facial particulars in meaty, sweaty close-ups, while locations reveal naturalistic textures, adding to the remote mood of the film. Blacks are consistent and deep, with little lost to evening incidents, while period outfits retain their craftsmanship. Colors are balanced and purposeful, with Lago's transformation into a red-painted Hell a highlight of the viewing experience, while costuming allows for additional explorations into primaries. Skintones are natural and communicative. Print is clean, without damage. Overall, I wish all the studio's vault titles were treated this kindly, as a simple effort of preservation allows "Drifter" to ride confidently on BD.


Ordered!

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« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2017, 08:00:11 PM »

Took me to about my fourth time seeing this film to realize that the drifter was actually the Marshall... I don't know how i missed that... Now i understand why the drifter basically demolished the same town he was suppose to be saving...

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« Reply #44 on: January 05, 2017, 05:23:42 AM »

Took me to about my fourth time seeing this film to realize that the drifter was actually the Marshall... I don't know how i missed that... Now i understand why the drifter basically demolished the same town he was suppose to be saving...

That is something debatable, could be his reincarnation, could be his ghost, could be his brother.  Wink

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