How have I not seen High Plains Drifter before this? this 1973 Western is a gritty, dark tale. A tale of deceit, of murder and vengeance. Heck, it’s even a ghost story. This is a very unique film, and a very good one at that. A drifter enters a small town, apparently looking for a drink, a shave, a bath and a bed. Once there he is confronted by three guys, Company men, they are called. In defense he kills all three. The local sheriff tells him they were known to be trouble and that he didn’t have to worry about charges. Heck, the sheriff would like to hire him to protect the town from three gun fighters, just released from jail that will most likely be coming back to the town to seek vengeance for their incarceration. The stranger, played by Clint Eastwood, at first declines, but when the sheriff offers him “anything he wants,” he accepts the job, and goes about making big changes to the town. These changes cause some of the town to question the decision to put him in charge of the town’s defense. The stranger is also troubled by dreams, dreams of the town’s Marshal being whipped to death by the men who he is hired to protect the town. While the murder is taking place, the people of the town stand by and do nothing to stop it. Is it a dream? Or are these memories? It seems pretty obvious to me. The stranger gets the town busy making changes. He run drills simulating an attack and has the town folk put up resistance, preparing them for the inevitable attack that is to come. He also orders unusual things to be done, like painting the town red, and having the towns people tear apart a livery barn to build picnic tables an such… The business men of the town are really questioning their initial decision to hire this stranger. So much so that they try to kill him themselves… Yeah, good luck boys. When the attack comes, the towns people’s weak attempts at fighting off the gun men come to little, and eventually (hell, pretty damned quickly), they have the upper hand, and have gathered the remaining towns folk together in the saloon. Well, this isn’t over folks – they still have to deal with the Stranger…
Okay, let’s not give it all away. I will say that this is a creepy, dark Western. It’s also one of the best Westerns I have ever seen. Actually this is just a really good movie, chock full of darkness and hidden meanings. Heck, it’s a Western and a Ghost story, and it does both great. For the first movie of Eastwood Week, I have to say it’s an incredible start. Check out the trailer below, and then immediately go find yourself a copy and watch it today!
There are very few actors with a career as long as Eastwood’s, and for the ones that do, very few can say they made as many good movies as Eastwood has. From the toughest damned cowboy you’ve met to an Orang-utan owning prize fighter to the toughest damned cop you’ve ever seen, Clint has rocked it.
I know the blog is called I Like Bad Movies, but if you’ve read it long enough, you know that the truth is, I just plain like movies. So, don’t go thinking these are bad movies, because they are not – you’ll know when I watch a bad movie, and I don’t think that’s happening this week.
Yep, this is going to be a damned good week.
Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy (A Fist Full of Dollars(1964),For a Few Dollars More (1965), The Good the Bad and the Ugly (1966))
Sergio Leone is/was the King of Spaghetti Westerns, and with The Man With No Name Trilogy (A Fist Full of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly), he might just deserve the title of King of All Westerns, in general.
This is the series of films that took a small time, little known TV actor by the name of Clint Eastwood and made him a house hold name. In each movie he seems to go by a different name (Monco, Blondie and Joe), but is best known as the Man With No Name, a bounty hunter that proves that the good guy in a movie doesn’t always really have to be that good of a guy – an anti-hero, I guess. Two of the movies (For a Few Dollars More and The Good, The Bad and the Ugly), costar Lee Van Cleef, the flint eyed leathery veteran of countless Spaghetti Westerns before and after this series. All three movies are scored with the incredible music of Ennio Morricone.
Visually stunning in their bleakness, Sergio paints a picture of a ruthless West filled with bandits and regular people, Rich man and poor men. And one thing in common for everyone is that they are trying to make a living in the west. Eastwood, in each of the films plays a cigar smoking, tall, quiet, solitary character who is quick and accurate on the draw, and if you have a bounty on your head, you’d be best to steer away from him.
Each of these movies stands alone – that is, you don’t have to watch one to follow the other, and I guess they’re not really sequels, but bound together in spirit. They are not just good Spaghetti Westerns, not just good Westerns, but actually great movies in their own right. While (re) watching The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, I was stunned by just how complex a movie it really is. Not only is it a kick ass western, but it even tries to come to grips with the horror that was the American Civil War. There is a strangely poignant scene where Blondie is walking through the area where a battle between the Union and the Confederates had just happened – coming upon a dying soldier, shivering, Blondie wraps his coat around him and gives the man a draw from his cigar, just before the soldier dies – This didn’t have to be in the movie, but it’s little things like this that elevates these movies above the rest.
So, don’t watch these movies if you’re looking for a light, fluffy watching experience – Watch these movies if you want to see great movies with great actors in great roles. I’m of the opinion that even if you don’t like Westerns, if you watch these film with an open mind, you would still like them.
Watch these movies and watch them often.
A Fistful of Dollars Trailer
For a Few Dollars More Trailer
The Good, The Bad and the Ugly Trailer