High Plains Drifter
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High Plains Drifter is a 1973 American film directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, written by Ernest Tidyman. Eastwood plays a laconic and enigmatic figure, who metes out justice in a corrupt frontier mining town where he arrives as a stranger.
Sheriff Dan Shaw
- Billy, he wasn't a loved man, no. And he didn't have much personality. What he did have was all bad, just bad.
- Billy Borders: Flea-bitten range bums don't usually stop in Lago. Life here's a little too quick for them. Maybe you think you're fast enough to keep up with us, huh?
- The Stranger: [suddenly grabbing his bottle of whiskey, startling everyone] A lot faster than you'll ever live to be.
- Mordecai: What did you say your name was again?
- The Stranger: I didn't.
- Mordecai: No. I guess you didn't at that, did you?
- Sheriff Dan Shaw: Well, I been needin' to talk with you; now's as good a time as any.
- The Stranger: What about?
- Sheriff Dan Shaw: Billy Borders.
- The Stranger: Don't know the man.
- Sheriff Dan Shaw: Well, you missed your chance — you shot him yesterday.
- Lutie Naylor: [the stranger has bought a round for the house] Let's see, one round for the house plus the smoke; that comes to about eight dollars and fifty cents.
- Sheriff Dan Shaw: [chuckling] There's no charge Lutie; you were at the meeting, anything he wants.
- Lutie Naylor: I didn't know that mean free whiskey!
- Sheriff Dan Shaw: Everybody's got to put something in the kitty.
- The Stranger: [Reaches over a takes off Shaw's badge and pins it on Mordecai] 'Bout time this town had a new sheriff.
- Mordacai: I'm the new sheriff! … I'm the new sheriff!
- Mayor Jason Hobart: [laughing] I'm sorry, Dan; but you should have seen the look on your face when he took off your badge and pinned it on the runt.
- Mordacai: I'm not a runt anymore; I'm the new sheriff!
- The Stranger: [reaches over and takes off the mayor's hat and puts it on Mordecai] And the mayor. Any objections?
- Mayor Jason Hobart: Uh, no.
- Preacher: What's going on here?
- Lewis Belding: What the hell does it look like is going on, Preacher? They're emptying my whole hotel. Throwing out paying guests, right into the street just to make room for our new guardian angel.
- Mordecai: He likes to be by himself, more or less.
- Preacher: See here, you can't turn all these people out into the night. It is inhuman, brother. Inhuman!
- The Stranger: I'm not your brother.
- Preacher: We are all brothers in the eyes of God.
- The Stranger: All these people, are they your sisters and brothers?
- Preacher: They most certainly are.
- The Stranger: Then you won't mind if they come over and stay at your place, will ya?
- Sarah Belding: Be careful. You're a man who makes people afraid, and that's dangerous.
- The Stranger: Well, it's what people know about themselves inside that makes 'em afraid.
- Mordecai: I'm almost done here. … I never did know your name...
- The Stranger: Yeah, you do. … See ya.
- Mordecai: Yes, sir captain!
- High Plains Drifter, with Eastwood as director as well as star, is part ghost story, part revenge Western, more than a little silly, and often quite entertaining in a way that may make you wonder if you have lost your good sense. The violence of the film (including a couple of murders by bull-whipping) is continual and explicit. It exalts and delights in a kind of pitiless Old Testament wrath.
However, it is also apparent that neither Ernest Tidyman, who wrote the screenplay, nor Eastwood are taking themselves too seriously. Eastwood's characterization of The Stranger, who settles God's score with Lago, is a high parody of the soft-featured, brutal Man With No Name he played in those bitter Sergio Leone Westerns.