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High Plains Drifter (1973)

tomatometer

96

Average Rating: 7.6/10
Reviews Counted: 26
Fresh: 25 | Rotten: 1

Clint Eastwood's sophomore outing as director sees him back in the saddle as a mysterious stranger, as the result is one of his most memorable Westerns.

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 1

Clint Eastwood's sophomore outing as director sees him back in the saddle as a mysterious stranger, as the result is one of his most memorable Westerns.

audience

86

liked it
Average Rating: 3.8/5
User Ratings: 34,988

My Rating

Movie Info

"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

R,

Western, Drama, Classics

Feb 24, 1998

Universal Pictures

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All Critics (26) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (25) | Rotten (1) | DVD (2)

As a director, Eastwood is not as good as he seems to think he is. As an actor, he is probably better than he allows himself to be.

October 26, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine | Comments (10)
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Eastwood's second directorial effort is mechanically stylish.

May 21, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This was supposed to be Eastwood's fond adieu to the worlds of Sergio Leone and Don Siegel; and indeed he cuts the operatic excess of the former with the punchy economy of the latter.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

May 10, 2005 Full Review Source: New York Times | Comment (1)
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mysterious, sporadically comical, and classically Eastwood, High Plains Drifter is a wholly satisfying revenge saga that's askew enough to surprise as it exercises known elements.

November 23, 2013 Full Review Source: Blu-ray.com
Blu-ray.com

A shaky sophomore effort ... Eastwood would direct a far superior Western, The Outlaw Josey Wales, three years later.

October 31, 2013 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

Eastwood holds fast to the rebel spirit of the spaghetti Westerns and revisionist "New Hollywood" Westerns of the previous decade, but packages it in a film that's slicker and more mainstream-friendly.

October 28, 2013 Full Review Source: The Dissolve
The Dissolve

Clint Eastwood's first Western as director is rather fascinating due to its quasi-supernatural component.

July 3, 2009 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

One of the best Westerns of the 1970s.

October 26, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Whatever the reasoning, it is a gripping work, harsh and ahead of its time.

October 26, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

Eastwood registers strongly as actor and director of this revenge Western (yet another critique of High Noon), with a style that's influenced by his mentors, the economic efficiency of Don Siegel with touches of Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns

April 13, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Clint Eastwood is the ultimate thinking man's cinematic killing machine.

December 6, 2005 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Savory Eastwood western.

November 14, 2005
ColeSmithey.com

Clint Eastwood's second film as a director -- and his first western -- is a minor classic.

April 3, 2005 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

Clint's a supernatural amoral mythical hero (of the pulp novel kind), bent on cruelty and getting revenge for a past misdeed.

March 16, 2005 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Paint the town red, Clint. It's your strangest and one of your best westerns.

October 15, 2004 | Comments (2)

High Plains Drifter will make an excellent double bill along with Eastwood's other post-modern Western, the 1992 Unforgiven.

January 22, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Gurus

There's some nice action here, and the whole thing is cloaked in an archetypal spookiness that makes High Plains Drifter work not only as a 'man with no name' Western but also as something a little deeper.

November 7, 2002 Full Review Source: Netflix
Netflix

Dark, bloody, and uncompromising; the ultimate deconstruction of the Western genre.

October 3, 2002
Flipside Movie Emporium

This film is hardcore. Not hardcore as in lots of blood and guts, but more in that it's just plain nasty. Everyone therein is nasty, and the hero is the nastiest man in the flick.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
Oz
eFilmCritic.com

Audience Reviews for High Plains Drifter

Eastwood at his most nihilistic and vicious. He comes out like an avenging ghost, a supernatural gunfighter collecting the souls of coward men for his return to the underworld. A feeling accentuated by an eerie musical score and strange oniric passages. An extremely satisfying cross between western and horror, well learnt craft from his masters Leone and Siegel.
April 20, 2013
pier007

Super Reviewer

There's not many western/ghost stories in the movies despite the rich american tradition of the same ... and this tale of ominous revenge (a precursor to "pale rider") never fails to chill, time after time.
March 15, 2011
ApeneckFletcher

Super Reviewer

This isn't your standard western in the slightest, which is why it works so well. I can't say too much beyond that without spoiling one of the coolest western plots ever written. Highly re-watchable thanks to a very clever script (without saying too much, when the Stranger speaks, take his words seriously). This is probably my favorite western film, so give it a shot.
March 1, 2011
Jacob Ethington

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • High Plains Drifter (1973) (DE)
  • High Plains Drifter (UK)
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