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Pale Rider Reviews

Page 1 of 52
cosmo313
cosmo313

Super Reviewer

November 4, 2013
This is essentially director/star Clint Eastwood's take on the western classic Shane.

Set in Northern California in the late 1880s, this film follows a group of independent pan miners who are terrorized by the corrupt and wealthy mining baron of a hydraulic mining operation and his vicious minions who want complete control of the area, and aren't fond of any kind of competition.

Following a particularly devastating attack in which her dog is among those that get slaughtered, a young girl prays for a miracle, which shortly thereafter comes in the form of a mysterious stranger who rides a pale horse, and, due to wearing a clerical collar, becomes known simply as The Preacher. The Preacher soon makes it his mission to help the miners stand up for themselves, and take down the ruthless thugs that want to wipe them out.

Yeah, the basic plot of this is nothing new, but it's done with a decent amount of style. I also liked that this film was really heavy on religious themes and overtones, and came off like a westernized take on a classic biblical epic.

Not much is known about The Preacher, and over the course of the film this remains consistent, which gives a nice amount of ambiguity, and provokes thoughts of mythical and otherworldly proportions. SOme might think this is hokey, but it didn't bother me. I'm all for straightforward mysterious strangers who come to complete a mission, then call it a day once it's done.

Eastwood is his typical self here in the lead, and to support him are a solid cast that includes Chris Penn, Richard Dysart, Richard Kiel, Sydney Penny, Carrie Snodgress, and Doug McGrath.

The film has a nice look, is suitably gritty and stark when needed, and delivers the goods without any excess sidetracking. Like I said, it's nothing really knew, but it's still done quite well, so I say give it a look. Of the three westerns Eastwood made from 1976-1992, this one is the least of the three, but is still an okay film in its own right.
garyX
garyX

Super Reviewer

November 16, 2006
A prospector's daughter has her prayers answered when a mysterious preacher with an uncanny knack for violence comes to town to defend her community from the ruthless land baron who threatens them. Pale Rider drops the otherworldly elements of High Plains Drifter into the plot of Shane to create yet another enjoyable revenge western from Clint Eastwood. The format is very familiar, but Clint brings his usual brand of steely eyed charisma to the screen and its difficult not to cheer for the "little guy" when taking on the might of the eminently hissable "man" in the shape of an amusingly villainous Richard Dysart. Chris Penn is maybe a little too young and boyish to make a suitable bad guy but Richard "Jaws" Kiel puts in a memorable cameo as a hired thug and the tense final showdown with a satanic set of mercenary law men is really well done. A little generic to be considered one of his very best, but it's still a finely crafted old school western with a supernatural slant.
Apeneck F

Super Reviewer

December 21, 2011
Eastwood's iconic, death dealing stranger from nowhere stops to look back, tip his dusty hat in respect to a earlier shadow who came before and a long shadow at that, the shadow named Shane. Almost just as good.
axadntpron
axadntpron

Super Reviewer

August 5, 2011
Not one of Eastwood's better westerns. While I love the supernatural elements that Eastwood plays with here, he did it much more effectively in High Plains Drifter. This film is really bogged down by the acting. While Penn and Eastwood hold their own, the rest of the cast is downright unbearable at times. On top of this, the film is awkwardly paced and any time Eastwood gets momentum going, he distracts us with a poorly constructed scene. So if you wanna watch a western just to watch men act tough on the frontier, than look no further. However, if you want something more substantial, then look away.
Sajin P

Super Reviewer

May 12, 2011
Clint Eastwood returns as yet another nameless wanderer, this time into the mining town of LaHood. This movie breaks no new ground, its the same gritty western affair. But one can never get enough of Eastwood in his trademark drifter characters. \m/
flixsterman
flixsterman

Super Reviewer

January 9, 2009
High Plains Drifter lyte. A similar premise with supernatural implications and unmerciful vengeance.
Anthony L

Super Reviewer

July 15, 2010
A great story, good acting and a good script make this a very good Western. Shoddy directing and dodgy props demote it somewhat to just a good Western. it could have been better but it's still very entertaining. P.S. I met Richard Kiel and he is a very nice man.
Conner R

Super Reviewer

June 4, 2010
Just too great of a premise and impossible not to love. Clint Eastwood does a perfect job in front and behind the camera. Unlike Unforgiven, this was a return to the traditional western and honors the universal themes. It's a lot like Shane in style and execution, but I feel that it's more than just a semi-remake. The Preacher gunslinger is in many ways a continuation of the folklore and supernatural elements that were briefly touched on in High Plains Drifter, but I think it works even better here. This is a good movie and one that all fans of the genre should enjoy. It's a combination of great storytelling and film-making.
sanjurosamurai
sanjurosamurai

Super Reviewer

January 26, 2007
a bit homely for a revenge style western, but pale rider has a decent story to carry it, an interesting lead character, and an absolutely excellent gun fight to close it out. a very good western.
Dean !

Super Reviewer

June 19, 2007
Another great western starring and directed by Clint Eastwood. A preacher comes to the aid of a small town where the locals are hoping to strike gold. One of the better westerns around with a great shoot-out finale.
Jason S

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2006
I gave this movie a little extra rating due to the fact that I really like the character Eastwood plays in the flick even though we know very little about him.
It's a very basic western story with a group trying to defend their land from the rich people who want it. Eastwood comes in and helps them keep what is theirs.
One of the things that makes this a little different is that much of the story is left out. There are hints that there is more to what we are seeing but the movie isn't here to tell that story. It focuses on the task at hand.
Normally I wouldn't care for that but it works here and I think it makes for a good watch.
Eastwood directs well and he should seeing how many westerns he has made over the years. He is one of the great film actors and directors of his time and I don't see him slowing up anytime soon.
Michael S

Super Reviewer

March 3, 2007
Clint Eastwood's forgotten masterpiece.
deano
deano

Super Reviewer

October 23, 2006
Eastwood returned to his western film since "The Outlaw Josey Wales".
Dillon L

Super Reviewer

August 29, 2011
Another revisionist picture based on a dying genre that features a good story, and excellent direction/acting by Clint Eastwood. The cinematography was nice too.
Cameron W. Johnson
Cameron W. Johnson

Super Reviewer

July 1, 2011
"Outside the window, on the ground, our hound dog was growling, pale riders flew across my lawn; I looked again, and they all were gone!" Yeah, I bet you thought that I was going to go with, like, "Ghost Riders" or something, but I figured I'd keep things relevant with a 2011 song... by Neil Young. Hey, it's not like I was going to make a reference to a music artist these days who hasn't gotten so old that he or she is, in fact, starting to turn pale. If turning pale is a reflection of age, then I think this film ought to tell you just how dirt-old Clint Eastwood is, because almost three decades ago, you could already refer to paleness as a major characterizing trait for one of his western characters. I'd say that Eastwood was still hardcore at, like, 112, but in case you ever get this film confused for "High Plains Drifter", just think about how, as the high plains drifter, Eastwood was literally supernatural in his awesomeness which no one dared to rival, and how, as the pale rider, he's some old coot who doesn't want to fight... but sure kicks some butt when he does. Okay, let's just agree to never mess with Clint Eastwood, just to be safe, because he can make a mean cowboy, as well as a mean cowboy redemption film... like "Unforgiven". Yeah, this isn't quite "Unforgiven", but it is decent, despite its shortcomings.

The film isn't especially overlong, but it is, in fact, overlong, drawn out by some excess in filler, as well as by a little filler which thins focus, and is made all the more aimless in feel by limp spells to dryly quiet direction that is bland enough when the material for it to draw upon with thoughtfulness is familiar. There are refreshing occasions, but this story is generally formulaic, with tropes ranging from simply familiar to near-trite, particularly when the tropes prove to be shamelessly melodramatic, on top of shamelessly formulaic. One of the bigger issues with this drama is histrionics, as there are some melodramatic conflicts, as well as contrived character types, who plague the narrative with subtlety issues that don't exactly peak with characterization, also coming in the form of cheesy comic relief, as well as some overblown plays on melodramatics. On top of all of the scripted histrionics and subtlety issues is something of an overblown directorial atmosphere that leads to sentimentality, reflecting too much in the way of ambition regardless of natural shortcomings. Mind you, natural shortcomings are limited in this generally intriguing story, but there's a whole lot of talking, with a minimalism that makes this story feel more-or-less like filler for a filmmaker as ambitious as Clint Eastwood. As irony would have it, Eastwood's ambition reflects the natural shortcomings, and not just with the sentimentality, because when Eastwood makes a misstep, his and, for that matter, writers Michael Butler's and Dennis Shryack's flaws are emphasized enough by the heart to drive the final product short of what it could have been, let alone what it wants to be. With all of that said, the heart also does a lot to make the film compelling, through all of its missteps, partly with the help of, of all things, some production value.

The art direction here is subtle to the point of not being all that outstanding, but it is somewhat unconventional in its minimalism, whose realism also holds a certain immersion value that is complimented, at least tonally, by a score by Lennie Niehaus that is formulaic and often overblown, but more prominent than the score of previous Clint Eastwood westerns, livening things up and helping in selling the tone of the story. This story is minimal in scale, but I must admit that there is meat to this film's dramatic value as a portrait on a stranger, for the better, changing a town he might have to end up defending by betraying moral promises to himself, and when Michael Butler's and Dennis Shryack's writing does this meat justice, despite being overwrought and overdrawn, dialogue proves to be clever, and characterization proves to be memorable. Sure, the script betrays reward value, with its messy elements, but it also helps in bringing the final product to the brink of rewarding with all of its wit, assisted by some tasteful direction. Eastwood's efforts are palpably overambitious, with a sense of sentimentality which is punctuated by limp spells to more subtle storytelling touched, but the direction is generally effective in holding your attention with a subtle entertainment value, broken up by thoughtful spells which thrive on genuine highlights in dramatic material. There are some powerful moments amidst a certain consistent intrigue that leaves the final product to flirt with a rewarding state as a character drama which is anchored by genuine character portrayals. There is the occasional flat performance, or at least that's the case with the young future soap opera star Sydney Penny, but there are also plenty of charming supporting performances, none of which are memorable compared to Eastwood, who, as lead actor, really delivers, with thorough charm as a man of peace, whose returning to violence to protect the innocent is an emotional journey which Eastwood sells with engrossingly subtle and graceful layers and nuances. Eastwood, onscreen, is the real treat here, but his offscreen endeavors aren't too much less commendable, carrying enough inspiration to go with heart in order to craft a decent drama, even though more could have been done.

In conclusion, the film outstays its welcome a bit, at least enough to pick up some conventions and histrionics along the way of its ambitious interpretation of a dramatically minimalist story concept, which is still done enough justice by decent production value and scoring, fair writing, thoughtful direction and strong acting - at least from Clint Eastwood - to make "Pale Rider" a reasonably entertaining and near-rewardingly compelling, if undercooked western drama.

2.75/5 - Decent
stevetheman1236
stevetheman1236

Super Reviewer

August 15, 2011
Pale Rider is a true Western. It follows the rules that a traditional Western does, yet somehow manages to avoid most of the cliches. Sure, it doesn't really show us anything that we haven't seen before, but if you wanna watch Clint Eastwood shoot some guys up and save a town in the process, watch High Plains Drifter. Then watch Pale Rider.
Stephen E

Super Reviewer

November 29, 2011
Pale Rider is a true Western. It follows the rules that a traditional Western does, yet somehow manages to avoid most of the cliches. Sure, it doesn't really show us anything that we haven't seen before, but if you wanna watch Clint Eastwood shoot some guys up and save a town in the process, watch High Plains Drifter. Then watch Pale Rider.
jim222001us
jim222001us

Super Reviewer

August 12, 2007
When a mining town is terrorized by a local tycoon (Richard Dysart) and hired goons, a young woman (Sydney Penny) prays for help. Her prayers are answered when a stranger that goes by the name Preacher (Clint Eastwood) shows up. He defends the town and it's people and gives them hope.
Ivan D

Super Reviewer

May 24, 2010
We all knew his characters well in the western genre, yet we can't help but be completely enamored by his screen presence and the raw quiet intensity he brings to the screen. And after his significantly long hiatus of creating films in the said genre, enter "Pale Rider", a film that combines the mystery of "High Plains Drifter" and the compassion of "The Outlaw Josey Wales". He took his good ol' ingredients and created a western film not set on humid landscapes of the far west, but icy hilltops, and an introduction of the protagonist not with one-sided gunslinging but a melee combat with clubs, a highly unusual opener in a film about a skillful gunman. It's also great to see Richard Kiel of "The Spy Who Loved Me" fame, again playing the noble giant role, which just happened to be on the wrong side. "Pale Rider's" build-up was very strong and does not falter, with a climactic showdown with a result that's although clinched, still delivers the rightful goods of a pure Eastwood western.
Tecnoandre
Tecnoandre

Super Reviewer

August 16, 2009
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