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High Plains Drifter Blu-ray Review

“High Plains Drifter” is an unusual western.

In 1973’s “High Plains Drifter,” a man simply known as The Stranger strolls into the town of Lago. Lago has a particularly dark past in that the town Marshal was whipped to death while townspeople watched and did nothing.

Right away, The Stranger encounters local trouble and is even begged to help Lago which finds itself in trouble. It seems 3 fresh out of prison criminals (led by Stacey Bridges) have their sights set on Lago and the town is desperate for help to stop them. The Stranger is offered anything he wants in return for defending the town. He accepts and takes full advantage of the deal which rubs some people the wrong way. Just what is The Stranger’s story and why exactly is he in Lago?

Directed by Clint Eastwood and scripted by Ernest Tidyman, “High Plains Drifter” is an R rated western of a different sort in that it’s a revenge tale, an ode to spaghetti westerns, and perhaps even a supernatural tale (I’ll get to that shortly). It’s a bit of a slow burn story in that it takes the time to establish Lago, its people, and its past before delving into a literally fiery climax which has a very dark edge to it. In fact, much of the film has a dark tone although there are plenty of comedic moments here (particularly with The Stranger taking advantage of the town). It can be argued that the tone is perhaps a bit too dark at times especially with its treatment of female characters (which is quite problematic and off-putting).

The most curious aspect of “High Plains Drifter” is the ending. Without spoiling it for those that haven’t seen the film, it’s a bit open ended in that we don’t quite know who The Stranger is. Was he wronged in the past? Is he some avenging spirit? There are many theories, but there’s no question that the film’s end is what makes ‘Drifter’ such an intriguing title of western cinema.

Cast wise, there are a trio of stand-out performances here. Obviously, Eastwood steals the entire movie and has such a major presence on screen here. Geoffrey Lewis also shines as the villainous Stacey Bridges. Actor Billy Curtis also has many memorable moments here as the dwarf Mordecai who becomes both the Sheriff and Mayor throughout the course of the film.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.35:1 1080p. How does it look? Filmed in Panavision and Technicolor, the Blu-ray release of this western classic is deeply impressive. I was particularly drawn to the rich colors on display (this is most noticeable when the town is painted red).

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The 5.1 track packs a punch. The film has never sounded better.
Extras:
* 2 theatrical trailers for “High Plains Drifter.”
* TV spot and radio spot
* Trailers for “A Fistful Of Dollars,” “For A Few Dollars More,” “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” “Two Mules For Sister Sara,” and “Joe Kidd.”
* Poster and image gallery
* 2 “Trailers From Hell” commentary segments by Josh Olson and Edgar Wright.
* Separate interviews with actors Marianna Hill, Mitchell Ryan and William O’Connell
* Another commentary by cult film director Alex Cox
* A vintage 7 minute behind-the-scenes promo titled “A Man Named Eastwood.”

November 6, 2020 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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