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on October 5, 2003
Clint Eastwood appears - looms - in this gritty Western in the cowboy tradition of High Noon and Shane. Eastwood also directed Pale Rider, a movie in which he's known only as Preacher, because when he appears in town, he's wearing a clerical collar. Hard for the beleaguered miners (who are being terrorized by a smarmy land-grabbing tycoon and his band of local baddies) to figure out at first is whether Eastwood is a good guy or a bad guy. There's the requisite pretty woman and adoring child who belong to one of the miners, and it gives Eastwood to prove his intensions are high-minded.
Classic Eastwood, classic cowboy, classic classic.
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on October 27, 2012
One reviewer found this tale dull and pretentious as the writer turns to myth in his tale like a religious story
where we dont know anything about person who comew to town not even his name but just preacher. They know that by his behavior, he has a religious sense to him, that is missing in others. Here we have a tale of a gold mine where the homesteaders are not being dealt fairly by a group known as hood(or something like that) so the problem heree is not rich against poor but as in myths the nature of a group of people who have appropriated the law to achieve their ends, means justifies ends. The characters are not really well rounded and we dont know that much about them, just a young girl and her mother and Eastwood rarely talks. One scene with the young girl she tries to seduce hum but he puts her off and she talks of love, and he tells her she needs to further understand that word, she wants some kind of physical relationship. He then says your MOTHER is a fine woman and when he rescues her from a gang assault and brings her to her home, dishevelled and at wits ends instead of hugging her mother she hugs the preacher. A later scene has the mother making a pass at the preacher but he leaves, and isn't interested in her, then she decides to go back to another man, she knows he's leaving town...and says to her husband he's a fine man. A little story about the meaning of love and relationships, and the preacher surmises the young girl needs to experience love in the
outside world. Reviewers may not like characters set up as types but this is the terrain where Eastwood goes in this film and others, looking into moral natures, and even the towns and everything are nameless, perhaps planetless.
I film which admittedly borrows from Shane and High Noon, but its a cogent piece of work since he goes elsewhere and here the preacher and the film is well set up. The rest of the tale is well written of in a high noon ending..and his westerns are different and not localized, much more deeply layered, and here he examines a family unable to love, these types of stories should not be explained since everyone takes from it what his life leads him to find there..I've just mentioned a few things I've not seen...I recall this film from years ago and enjoyed it again...
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on July 30, 2003
This Clint Eastwood western got little attention in 1985, but it still holds up well today, with Eastwood playing the man with no name mantra, it starts out with many outlaw cowboys terrorizing mountain settlers who they are trying to run off because of possible gold that could be there, we discover that the town's owner wants the mining expedition all to his self & will do anything to acquire it, this is where Eastwood comes in, in which he helps the settlers keep what is theirs, with Michael Moriarty(Law & Order) as the settler's leader & Sydney Penny(T.V.'s All my Children) as his stepdaughter who developes a fixation on Eastwood, we learn he is a priest or so we think who has sort of a mysterious past & not much is known about him, when the town's owner realizes they have outside help, he attempts to bribe him to join his cause, when that fails he then hires a ruthless sherriff & his 6 deputies who uphold whatever law there is to the highest bidder, a sherriff which Eastwood has a past with, but not much is revealed about their past, in which they have a showdown towards the end, this movie has many subplots in it that really work & the look on the shrriff's face when he realizes who he is up against is creepy, I am not sure if Eastwood was trying to make a sequel to "Outlaw of Josey Whales" or what, but it sure plays on that theme as if the sherriff was one he missed in that one, or vice versa, & is better than "Unforgiven" which in some ways could be a sequel to this one, but this one stands out & could be a stand alone movie, it should be noted that Eastwood directed all 3 films, & might have had that intension all along, I used to like "Josey Whales" the best, but this one is the better one I think!!!
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The situation is familiar enough, previously dramatized in another film, Shane (1953): A stranger appears and becomes involved with good people who are being tormented by a powerful adversary as they struggle to eke out a living as miners camped along a river. Eastwood has duly acknowledged several similarities with Shane while explaining that he wanted to create his own version and commissioned a script based on that basic situation. As for the film's title, as she was reading the Bible with her mother (a widow, played by Carrie Snodgrass), Megan Wheeler (played by Sydney Penny), comes upon this passage: "And I saw, and behold, a pale horse, and its rider's name was death, and hell followed him." Soon after, a lone horseman (Clint Eastwood) dressed as a preacher, rides into camp. His name is never revealed, nor is his background, but the miners soon realize that the Preacher is probably much handier with a gun than he is with holy scripture. Of course, the confrontation with LaHood and his hired gunmen (led by a man named Stockburn) is inevitable. There is a vague but inescapable implication that the Preacher may have once ridden with Stockburn. There is no doubt that they once knew each other.
To his credit, Eastwood underplays any Biblical implications. In fact, most of the action occurs slowly. Opportunities to develop a sub plot are rejected, probably because Eastwood wants to sustain the focus on the conflict between decency and mendacity. Although the widow is obviously "taken" with the Preacher and he feels at least some attraction to her (as was also the case with Shane and Marion Starret), the Preacher rides off as the film ends, as does Shane. Hull Barret is Joe Starret's counterpart. Both are willing but neither is equal to the challenge of saving their friends from oppression. Shane and the Preacher become involved because they care about the good folks, of course, but also because (it is implied) their destiny is to confront and eliminate evil, then depart. Stockburn is a contract laborer, as is Jack Wilson in Shane. Literally, a hired gun. Nothing personal, although Stockburn (as portrayed by John Russell) seems to me somewhat world-weary whereas Wilson still seems to enjoy killing whomever he must to complete an assignment.
One final point: I have admired as well as enjoyed the development of Eastwood's skills as a director over several decades, beginning with Play Misty for Me (1971). I think there is much greater diversity in his selection and presentation of material as a director than there is as an actor. Some have characterized this as a "noir film" and in certain respects it is. The somber tone he establishes and then sustains in Pale Rider (1985) may well have contributed to the effectiveness of a comparable tone in later films, notably Unforgiven (1992). I am eager to see what new challenges he takes on in films yet to be directed but I am equally eager to see relationships of those films with earlier works such as this.
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on May 5, 2003
The late 70's-early 80's were not very kind towards westerns, and it was feared that the genre might be gone forever. But then, in 1985, Lawrence Kasdan's masterpiece "Silverado" blazed across the screen, and westerns were back again, unfortuanately for a rather short-lived comeback (until 1994, with the last great western: "Tombstone"). "Silverado" was not alone, however, because that same year Clint Eastwood also returned to the saddle after a nine-year period (his last, "The Outlaw Josey Wales", was back in 1976). And though not among his best, "Plae Rider" makes for worthy entertainment. The story concerns a group of prospectors who are constantly harassed by the neighboring millionare and his thugs, warning the miners to clear out or else. But the prospectors have held strong, though none of them are sure how long they can keep it up. One day, however, a mysterious stranger rides into town (sound familiar?) and decides to help them out. The whole film is basically nothing more than a rehash/merging of "Shane" and "High Plains Drifter" (Eastwood's first directorial western), with Eastwood repeating his signature role (no, not Dirty Harry) of the mysterious gunman without a name. I know that critics have declared Clint Eastwood one of the greatest actors who has ever lived (and I fondly agree), this is getting a little old, isn't think?! I mean, the man has played the part a hundred times over! "A Fistful of Dollars", "For A Few Dollars More", "The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly", "Two Mules For Sister Sara", "High Plains Drifter". . . . . . . the list goes on and on.
Okay, those were the cons, and now for the pros. However unoriginal the plot is, it has little sprinkles of the supernatural here and there, and the film possesses the dark, errie atmosphere that was found in "High Plains Drifter". And this time, the stranger is a preacher (or claims to be). And, like Eastwood's first western, you never really can tell: is the stranger just an ordinary man out for revenge, or is he a shadow of the past from beyond the grave? Whatever your opinion on it, the whole feel of it is really cool. As usual, Clint is at his squint-eyed best, and the rest of the cast does an overall great job as well. It's really nice to see John Russell ("Rio Bravo") back in a western again. Just that whole thing with the Preacher and the teenage girl I found weird, out of place, and simply pointless. The climactic showdown holds some suspense, but it's nothing to get excited about.
"Pale Rider" has been placed under the awesome Clint Eastwood Collection brand of DVD's. But it's a bit of a disappointment, especially after buying/viewing the CEC of "The Outlaw Josey Wales". While that western received a seamless remastering job as well as special features worthy of the title Special or Collector's Edition, this DVD's picture and sound quality are only passable. It's a bit blury, and the darks (especially during the night scenes) seem more blue than black. And all you get is production notes and a trailer. Oh well; I guess the better the movie, the better the DVD treatment.
Conclusion: If you're an Eastwood fan, buy it. If you're partial to originality, go get "Shane" or "High Plains Drifter" instead.
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on April 20, 2003
After almost a full decade away from the western genre, Clint Eastwood was presented with the script for this melodramatic but very powerful western. Taking up his usual roles as producer, director and of course star, Eastwood handles each role admirably and ultimately put a classic western on the silver screen and the home theater screen. Of particular note is the score for the film, which but for the beginning and the end of the film is almost nonexistent but very ominous and powerful when present.
The premise:
Welcome to Carbon Creek California where a group of tin pan miners are demoralized and ready to quit due to the efforts of mining boss Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart) and his men. In what can only be described as prophetic, after the opening sequence, young Megan (Sydney Penny) is burying her dog, praying for a miracle and we see the Preacher (Clint Eastwood) riding into town. We then see Hull Barret (Michael Moriarty) riding into town despite warnings about what happened to him the last time he went there. In classic Eastwood style, Barret is being beaten brutally in the middle of town and Eastwood as the stranger saves the day. What follows may not be Eastwood's best western of his career but it certainly has a very intriguing and poignant plot that is quite memorable.
I would highly recommend this film to die hard Eastwood fans or the casual western fan as I believe you will find yourself pleasantly surprised by this film. {ssintrepid}
Special Features:
Production notes: A text script written by Eastwood about directing and the standard actors list with their credits.
Theatrical trailers: Pale Rider and Unforgiven
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on October 26, 2002
Climbing back into the saddle after a nine year break from Westerns Clint Eastwood shows us he is the best in the business when it comes to this genre.In this outing he takes not only to the saddle but to the Directors chair,and the result is a visually spectacular and wholly atmospheric story.
The setting is Northern California,1860,(though the film was actually shot on location in Idaho's Sawtooth National Park)and centres around a group of gold-miners in a place called Carbon Canyon,the last area of land where mining mogul Coy LaHood(Richard Dysart) hasn't been able to set up his land-scarring hydraulic monitors.Even after numerous raids by his workers the stubborn 'tin panners' refuse to leave.But their resolve is waning.
A young girl(Sydney Penny),strong in her faith,prays for a miracle after a particulary brutal raid one morning.Enter Clint Eastwood.
I have watched this movie many times and still I am unsure of Clints character.And that's why this movie works.His aloof and mysterious 'Preacher',all the way through,begs the question is he real or is he a ghost?A suggestive script opens doors to this mans past but he himself coyly skirts around any direct answers with a dry mono-syllabic dialogue as to his true identity.He becomes an enigma to us,while outwardly to the miners of Carbon Canyon he becomes a savior in a clerical collar who seems to know how to use a six-shooter to full effect.
The two main female characters,Sarah Wheeler(Carrie Snodgress) and her daughter Megan(Sydney) are drawn to this lone stranger which causes a somewhat awkward sub-plot to the story but I feel it is entirely plausible and makes you really understand what motivates these two richly drawn characters.Alot of the female roles in Westerns are one-dimensional,Sarah and Megan are anything but.
After negotiations fail between LaHood and the tin-pans Coy enlists the services of a corrupt Marshal(the late John Russell) and his six Deputies to rid the canyon of this troublesome Preacher.The showdown is set,and amidst the spectacular backdrop of the snow swept mountains and an eerie wind that you can almost feel the Preacher drops the Deputies one by one as they hunt for him in the small town of LaHood.Then he finally reveals himself to the Marshal,who up til now has had his suspicions as to his identity."But the man I'm thinking of is dead" he tells Coy earlier in the scene.
As the Preacher lifts his head,the shadow of his hat-brim taking flight and revealing a stubbled face with cold penetrating eyes Marshal Stockburn is clearly shocked."You!" he stammers.And here we realise that indeed these two men have met before and a few pieces of the puzzle fall into place as to the Preachers history,but somehow he remains as enigmatic as ever.
This story is just that well written.
If you haven't seen this movie I won't spoil it by explaining the ending,but it is reminiscient of Shane in some respects.I highly recommend this classic Western,by far,in my opinion,the best one ever made.
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on October 1, 2002
The next paragraphs may make it sound like I don't like this movie, because it's predictable - quite the contrary! This is the absolutely classic western story line: Band of hapless miners/farmers/ranchers/shopkeepers/insert-your-favorite-group-here is being harassed by the local big-shot bully, who is generally making their lives miserable and difficult. Loner-type hero rides into town/camp/the ranch, and helps out a main character that's about to get the snot beaten out of him/her. Instantly, The Lone Stranger is elevated to an almost hero-like status, and the miners/townspeople/what-have-you convince him to stay and help them out. Despite the fact that he has no vested interest in these folks, they touch something deep within him, and he knows it's the right thing to do, so he stays.
With somewhat of a heavy hand, it is insinuated that this man is more than he seems - in this case, a preacher with a deadly aim, great fighting skills, and possibly checkered past. Still, he helps miners in their plight against the rich miner who's trying to drive them off of their legal claims, as the miner takes ever more violent strides in his quest. Not only is he evil because of trying to drive off The Decent Folk, but he uses terribly destructive methods to mine for the gold; he yields more ore more quickly, but the area left in his wake is completely destroyed. Of course, at least one of the good miners falls victim to the rich bloke, further steeling everyone's resolve; it's not just A Principle involved, now.
During the course of the film, naturally, the female characters fall in love with the preacher (who has no name, though you're not surprised by that, are you?) but he's just not a man to be had. Why, he's a loner, and he'll always be moving on from place to place, perhaps trying to escape his misdeeds of the past, perhaps trying to reconcile the two halves of himself, perhaps just enjoying a wandering lifestyle. Ah, the romantic West! The final confrontation comes, comprising of a really amusing shootout with 6 corrupt deputies, and then, finally, the preacher confronts his old nemesis, a corrupt marshall.
Still, despite the fact that this is indeed one of America's oldest stories, it's an entertaining movie. Even though you are absolutely certain of what's going to happen, the ride is still a good one. Sometimes, there's comfort to be found in stories we know - hence the rich oral tradition of many cultures, retelling the same story over and over, even though everyone knows how it goes, many sit completely enraptured through it. A story need not be new to be good.
Young Clint Eastwood is great as the preacher (and as the producer/director,) and Michael Moriarty does a wonderful job as well. This is a must-see western, simply for the sake of seeing this particular story well-told.
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on May 30, 2002
CLINT EASTWOOD returned to the saddle after almost a decade with the film PALE RIDER. He alternated duties between acting the mysterious dark hero only known as "Preacher" and as the films director. And in the end, PALE RIDER is a sturdy Western. It also tends to be predictable as most Western's are, since they travel by such strict mythic guidelines.
Land hungry villains relentlessly harass some prospectors. Just when their spirit is about to break, The Preacher arrives and revitalizes the village, giving them the desire to fight. Of course the powerful villainous leader, Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart) wants their inspiration wiped out so he brings in some hired guns to eliminate the Preacher. And, like so many other Westerns, it will all be sorted out by a gunfight in the middle of town.
PALE RIDER is a simple story with the exception of an awkward love triangle involving a mother and daughter. That alone is the only drawback to the solid storytelling. Clint himself emits extreme star power over the film, even with a minimum of dialogue. And of course, this is a must for his core fans and those who love westerns.
The DVD offers both a widescreen and pan and scan transfer which loses much of the beautiful expansive scenery. But in both transfers, there are problems in the dark end signaling a standard transfer. The audio is only sufficient for a DVD. But, the film doesn't play like a spectacle so none of that matters. There is nothing of major note in the arena of extra features except a text discussion of Clint on Directing and trailers for the film as well as Eastwood's next Western, the Oscar Winning UNFORGIVEN.
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on February 5, 2002
If you're a Clint Eastwood fan, I'd recommend viewing this movie. If you like movies that are true-to-life and that make some sort of statement, this isn't one I'd recommend.
The plot is well developed, although it's the usual David vs. Goliath story. John Russell gives an excellent performance as Marshall Stockburn, a man who you'll love to hate when the movie is over. Richard Dysart also does a nice job as the wealthy miner Coy LaHood, bringing out the snobbishness and arrogance of 19th Century aristocrats very well.
Eastwood gives his usual performance as the "bad" good guy. This time Clint Eastwood plays a man known only as "Preacher", descriptive only of his name, certainly not of his profession. I'd compare "Preacher" to Robin Hood, robbing from the rich (Dysart) and giving back to the poor (Michael Moriarty and others). If you can handle a little blood and violence, this is a very watchable film, though it's not Eastwood's best, and it's not something I'd let a five-year-old watch.
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