High Plains Drifter [DVD] [1973]

  • SKU: 3329945
  • Release Date: 02/24/1998
  • Rating: R
Clint Eastwood's High Plains Drifter -- only the second movie he ever directed -- makes its second appearance on DVD in an edition altered only slightly from its first, mostly in the form of its design, which was restructured to bring it into line with the 2003 "Universal Western Collection," of which it is now a part, alongside classics such as Winchester '73 and studio-generated filler such as The Redhead From Wyoming. (As few Eastwood fans need be told, High Plains Drifter is much closer in quality to the former than the latter.) The film-to-video transfer is a significant improvement over the old laserdisc edition, which was one of the earlier Universal letterboxed releases. It is sort of essential to see it in this format, as AMC -- where it turns up most frequently -- usually shows the movie full-frame; but even when they show the letterboxed version, they never air the R-rated cut with the uncensored language and violence. The 2.35:1 transfer offers good contrast and brings out such details as a wonderful shot eight and a half-minutes into the movie in which Eastwood's nameless stranger runs across to a trio of thugs at a saloon; his end of the shot is framed by his wide-brimmed hat, which, as he raises his head, reveals the presence of a further set of onlookers, including his soon-to-be-ally Mordecai (Billy Curtis). The detail of the transfer is exquisite, right down to the fabric of the wool blankets that Eastwood's stranger loads into the arms of a downtrodden Native American at the general store. One wishes there was an accompanying narration by Eastwood, but in its place there is a decent production history in the supplements, over a series of easy-to-access onscreen frames. One reason the movie has always looked as strange as it does is that Eastwood specifically chose to shoot it at the other end of California from Hollywood -- at Lake Mono in the California Sierras. He had the entire town, including interiors for all of the buildings, constructed to order from scratch, and shot everything there, adjacent to the lake, which had the helpful quality of changing its appearance and hue with virtually each new shot, adding to the unearthly feel of the action. The movie would probably have been better received by critics if it had not appeared in the wake of Dirty Harry, which had left most middle-of-the-road and liberal journalists and writers aghast, and also despising Eastwood. High Plains Drifter was a success despite mixed reviews, and has since come to be regarded as one of the most influential Westerns of the '70s. The other major supplement on the disc is the original trailer, which emphasizes the movie's violence more than its gallows humor and which has been modified into a mixture of full-screen and letterboxed shots. The menu must be accessed manually -- the disc goes automatically to the movie and startup mode -- and is easy to manipulate, going to a third layer in language selection (French, Spanish), with Spanish subtitles and English captions available. The 16 chapters fit the movie perfectly, covering every major scene.
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Overview

Ratings & Reviews


Overall Customer Rating:
100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (25 out of 25)

Special Features


  • Production notes
  • Talent bios
  • Film highlights
  • Theatrical trailer

Synopsis


High Plains Drifter
"Who are you?" the dwarf Mordecai (Billy Curtis) asks Clint Eastwood's Stranger at the end of Eastwood's 1973 western High Plains Drifter. "You know," he replies, before vanishing into the desert heat waves near California's Mono Lake. Adapting the amorally enigmatic and violent Man With No Name persona from his films with Sergio Leone, Eastwood's second film as director begins as his drifter emerges from that heat haze and rides into the odd lakefront settlement of Lago. Lago's residents are not particularly friendly, but once the Stranger shows his skills as a gunfighter, they beg him to defend them against a group of outlaws (led by Eastwood regular Geoffrey Lewis) who have a score to settle with the town. He agrees to train them in self-defense, but Mordecai and innkeeper's wife Sarah Belding (Verna Bloom) soon suspect that the Stranger has another, more personal agenda. By the time the Stranger makes the corrupt community paint their town red and re-name it "Hell," it is clear that he is not just another gunslinger. With its fragmented flashbacks and bizarre, austere locations, High Plains Drifter's stylistic eccentricity lends an air of unsettling eeriness to its revenge story, adding an uncanny slant to Eastwood's antiheroic westerner. Seminal western hero John Wayne was so offended by Eastwood's harshly revisionist view of a frontier town that he wrote to Eastwood, objecting that this was not what the spirit of the West was all about. Eastwood's audience, however, was not so put off, and an exhibitors' poll named Eastwood a top box-office draw for 1973. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi

Cast & Crew


  • Clint Eastwood
    Clint Eastwood - Stranger
  • Verna Bloom
    Verna Bloom - Sarah Belding
  • Marianna Hill
    Marianna Hill - Callie Travers
  • Mitchell Ryan
    Mitchell Ryan - Dave Drake
  • Jack Ging
    Jack Ging - Morgan Allen



Overall customer rating

4.8
100%
would recommend to a friend
  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    One of Clint's priceless classics

    Posted
    Iknowmovies
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    • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

    This is one of Clint Eastwood's best westerns (along with the Outlaw Josey Wales and Unforgiven). He directs it also and his off-beat humor and characters are priceless. It is always interesting when he comes into a town with no name and the people there start pushing him around. Big mistake! It's kind of like Sylvester Stallone in First Blood. You can only push these guys so far and then they turn the town upside down. I hope I have not given too much away. All I can say is that I am glad this finally came out on blu-ray and that they did an excellent job remastering it. I am very pleased!

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Gritty Eastwood western

    Posted
    Movieman
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    This is one of Clint Eastwood's early westerns following the huge success of his Sergio Leone westerns, as both director and star which emulates the same grittiness and anti-heroic tone of the best spaghetti western ever made, Dollar Trilogy, that made him an international movie star and icon for the next 4 decades. Not only does this film established Clint as the biggest post-John Wayne era American movie star of westerns and action flicks, but also as a serious filmmaker for decades to come.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Client's best squints

    Posted
    Mikezilla
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    One of Clint Eastwood's best movies and one of my all-time favorite Westerns. Kind of a ghost story. Dark, brutal, and disturbing as the Man with No Name takes vengeance and retribution on a small town. This movie has held up well over the years and the blu ray version can't be beat for audio and video quality. I love this movie and in my humble opinion is a better film than Unforgiven or Pale Rider. Highly recommended!

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Pure Clint Eastwood cowboy

    Posted
    jcb476
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    • My Best Buy® Elite MemberElite Member

    A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way. Universal has issued a fresh scan of this 1973 feature. The AVC encoded image (2.35:1 aspect ratio) presentation provides a crisp, clean HD appearance, with only a mild amount of filtering to manage the grain, not erase it. The 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound mix finds a suitable equilibrium for what amounts to a spare soundtrack

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    great western

    Posted
    prlwctd

    Clint Eastwood's 2nd film (& 1st western) as director is a harsh Leone-esque tale with supernatural overtones. A drifter (Clint) mysteriously appears in the uninviting town of Lago. The townspeople, who prove no more angelic than those he blows away, eventually ask for his protection from bandits who have gotten out of jail. An early scene between the drifter and a shrewish woman (Mariana Hill) may displease some viewers. Despite that, this remains watchable and unique. Billy Curtis steals the show as the citizen who becomes the closest thing the drifter has to a friend.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Solid Eastwood western

    Posted
    MrPither
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    High Plains Drifter might not get as much attention as some of Eastwood's other westerns, but it's one of my favorites. I was pleased to see it available in a remastered and restored Blu-ray version. Even better, it was packaged with DVD and Ultraviolet versions for a great sale price. The "Best of the Decade" packaging also contains a few bits of trivia from the 1970s. The disc itself doesn't contain much in the way of bonus features, but I'm fine with that given the price and other versions.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    One of my favorite Eastwood Westerns

    Posted
    HDMe
    • My Best Buy® Elite Plus MemberElite Plus Member

    It's a weird take on westerns, by Clint Eastwood in his first directorial debut. It is one of my favorite westerns and one of my favorite Eastwood movies too... though I know it tends to divide people into a love-it-or-hate-it discussion. The Blu-ray is a great addition, especially since we never got a proper anamorphic DVD release before... and though the movie shows its age, this is the best it has ever looked.

    I would recommend this to a friend

  • Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Very Good

    Posted
    Fslug
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    • My Best Buy® MemberMember

    For a 40 year old movie High Plains Drifter on Blu-Ray is more than satisfactory. The colors are alive and there are few if any blemishes or picture imperfections. Even the dark scenes are rendered clean and clear. The sound is ok, hard to create a booming soundtrack for a 40-something movie. Overall, this is a warranted upgrade from the dvd version.

    I would recommend this to a friend



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