High Plains Drifter (1973)

High Plains Drifter (1973) High Plains Drifter (1973)
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High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American Western film directed by Clint Eastwood, written by Ernest Tidyman, and produced by Robert Daley for The Malpaso Company and Universal Pictures. The film stars Eastwood as a mysterious stranger who metes out justice in a corrupt frontier mining town. The film was influenced by the work of Eastwood's two major collaborators, film directors Sergio Leone and Don Siegel. In addition to Eastwood, the film also co-stars Verna Bloom, Mariana Hill, Mitchell Ryan, Jack Ging, and Stefan Gierasch.

The film was shot on location on the shores of Mono Lake, California. Dee Barton wrote the film score. The film was critically acclaimed at the time of its initial release and remains popular.

Plot - A mysterious, unnamed stranger rides out of the desert into the isolated mining town of Lago in the American Old West. Three gunmen hired to protect the town taunt and threaten him; he kills all three with little effort. When the attractive, blond townswoman Callie Travers flirtatiously insults him, he rapes her in the livery stable. That night, in his hotel room, the Stranger dreams of Jim Duncan, a U.S. Marshal, being whipped to death by outlaws Stacey Bridges and brothers Dan and Cole Carlin, as Lago's citizens watch in silence.

The next day, Lago's town council, needing to replace the three gunmen, offer the Stranger anything he wants to protect the town from Bridges and the Carlins, who will soon be released from prison. It is gradually revealed that the townspeople hired the outlaws to murder Duncan when he discovered that the local gold mine was illegally dug on government-owned land and would have to be closed, destroying the town's livelihood. The townspeople then conspired to frame the outlaws for stealing gold as a means to avoid paying them, and they have vowed revenge.

The Stranger accepts the job and takes full advantage of the deal: He appoints a downtrodden dwarf named Mordecai as both sheriff and mayor, provides a Native American and his children with blankets and candy when the shopkeeper refuses to serve them, gets a new saddle and boots, and forces the saloon to serve everyone free drinks. He later orders the hotel owners, Lewis and Sarah Belding, and all the other guests to vacate the premises, leaving him its sole occupant.

Callie and several men, including Morgan Allen, decide to kill the Stranger. After having sex with him in his room, Callie slips out as three men enter. As they unknowingly beat a dummy in the bed, the Stranger tosses a stick of dynamite into the room, destroying most of the hotel, then shoots two of his attackers dead, as Morgan flees, wounded. The Stranger drags Sarah, kicking and screaming, into her bedroom (the only room in the hotel not damaged) where they have sex. The next morning, Sarah tells the Stranger that Duncan cannot rest in peace because the town buried him in an unmarked grave.

The Stranger assembles a group of citizens to defend the town and has them practice shooting, but soon realizes that none have the necessary skills. To keep the townspeople busy, he orders every building in town painted blood red. He then rides out of town without explanation, following the wounded Morgan. As he leaves, he paints over the town sign with a single word: "Hell".

The Stranger finds Bridges and the Carlins, who have just finished off Morgan, and harasses them with dynamite and rifle fire, leading the outlaws to believe the townspeople are responsible. Returning to Lago, the Stranger inspects the preparations — the entire town painted red, armed men on rooftops, picnic tables laden with food and drink, and a big "WELCOME HOME BOYS" banner — then he silently departs again. The outlaws arrive and easily overcome the poor resistance of the townspeople; the defenders are all killed, while the survivors are rounded up in the saloon.

The Stranger lures one of the Carlin brothers outside and whips him to death, then kills the remaining outlaws one by one. Belding, aiming a shotgun at the Stranger's back, is shot dead by Mordecai. The next morning, the Stranger rides past Mordecai in the cemetery. "You know," Mordecai says, "I never did know your name." The Stranger replies, "Yes, you do." As the Stranger rides off into the desert, a perplexed Mordecai stands beside the tombstone he just finished engraving: "Marshal Jim Duncan, Rest in Peace".


  • Clint Eastwood as The Stranger
  • Verna Bloom as Sarah Belding
  • Mariana Hill as Callie Travers
  • Billy Curtis as Mordecai
  • Mitch Ryan as (Mining executive) Dave Drake
  • Jack Ging as Morgan Allen
  • Stefan Gierasch as Mayor Jason Hobart
  • Ted Hartley as (Inn keeper) Lewis Belding
  • Geoffrey Lewis as Stacey Bridges
  • Dan Vadis as Dan Carlin
  • Anthony James as Cole Carlin
  • Walter Barnes as Sheriff Sam Shaw
  • Paul Brinegar as Lutie Naylor
  • Richard Bull as Asa Goodwin
  • Robert Donner as Preacher
  • John Hillerman as Bootmaker
  • John Quade as Freight Wagon Operator
  • Buddy Van Horn as Marshal Jim Duncan
  • William O'Connell as the Barber
  • Reid Cruickshank as the gunsmith
  • James Gosa as Tommy Morris
  • Scott Walker as Billy Borders
  • Russ McCubbin as Fred Short