Let me start right off by saying that I’m 60 years old, a fan of all things Western — movies almost as much as books — and have never seen Clint Eastwood’s “High Plains Drifter.” Oh, I’ve caught it more than once on a lazy Saturday afternoon while flicking through the channels and, over time, I’ve seen probably 80 percent of the movie, parts of it multiple times.
But, I’ve never sat down for an hour and forty five minutes and watched it from start to finish. And by the way, it’s worth it just to watch the start and the finish, both of which explain a lot. It’s hard not to love the opening where Clint rides out of the plains (or hell?), and into the town of Lago, riding through without a word, but drawing the attention of every person in town.
If you like Clint Eastwood — and I do — you’ll like this movie. The supporting cast is terrific, but this is Clint’s movie. He stars in it, as well as directs it, and is rarely not on screen. It’s Clint at his non-verbal, deadly-shooting best. He has no name, few lines, little patience and — unless you believe in ghosts (something else lost to me about this movie until I watched the entire thing) — no reason for his brutal, sadistic, actions. There is a rape scene, which was troublesome for me, and plenty of whippings and shootings for those who would miss them.
Lago is an eerie town, with a terrible past, located on the edge of California’s Mono Lake, also eerie. I enjoyed the movie, but the best way to put it is, if it hadn’t been Clint, it would have had to have been Jack Nicholson.