Archive | January, 2016

High Plains Drifter and the race for the Republican presidential nomination

18 Jan

This article contains spoilers, but given that the picture in question was released over 40 years ago, we figure that if you like this sort of thing, you’ve already seen it.

We’re fans of some pretty bad movies.  We love Arnold Schwarznegger’s Commando as well as some bad Clint Eastwood movies (The Gauntlet, for example.) While channel-flipping last week,  we found High Plains Drifter, which we had never seen.  We don’t recall which film critic coined the term “adult fairy tales” to describe pictures of this type, but it fits this movie to a T.  The moral universe of the movie is unrelentingly ugly. ( The picture was made in the early 70s when anti-heroes were starting to be a thing -Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange had been released two years earlier in 1971.) One of the first things Clint’s character (who’s never given a name) does when he arrives in the Western town where the film is set is to rape a woman because, well, he’s Clint and he can.  He also establishes his street cred as a gunslinger.

We then see violent flashbacks of three bad men as they brutally bullwhip the town’s former sheriff to death. This sequence goes on waaaay too long.  The townsfolk watch this horrible spectacle and do nothing to stop it (and as we later learn,  they’re complicit in this murder.)  The scene makes no sense: if these guys want to bump off the sheriff, why don’t they simply shoot him?  Well, that would be direct and to the point, whereas the writers (and Clint, who also directed) apparently want to make this scene as nasty as possible.  What the hell, they succeed.

The three who killed the sheriff are expected to return and they’re mad at the populace, so the townsfolk hire Clint to protect them (sorta like the Seven Samurai, but in this case, there’s only one.) Clint balks, so they sweeten the deal;  in return for his protection, he can have anything he wants.  Big mistake – there’s a whole lot of things that Clint wants.  After a while, the folks get pretty sick of Clint’s demands and plot to shoot him while he sleeps.  In a scene straight out of a Warner Brother’s cartoon, he’s waiting for them on the balcony and tosses a bundle of  dynamite into the room.  Ka-boom!  That’s all, folks!

Unfazed by the attempt on his life, Clint has the townsfolk paint all the buildings in the town red as he renames the town “Hell”.   That’s where we quit watching the picture – unlike The Gauntlet, which to us is a good bad movie, this was a bad bad movie.  Besides, we pretty much knew how the thing was going to play out. There’d be a lotta mayhem, the bad guys’d be killed off, the townsfolk’d get their comeuppance and Clint would vamoose. (Based on what we read on IMDB, we were pretty close.)

high_plains_drifter

Clint paints the town red

The picture is deliberately unclear about Clint’s relationship it to murdered sheriff – is he the ghost of the sheriff, the sheriff’s brother or what?  One thing is clear, the picture is apocalyptic, with an entire town in chaos, in turmoil, being destroyed by a malevolent interloper.

We then turned to the news and saw that Donald Trump was still doing quite well in his bid for the Republican nomination.

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