Pale Rider - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pale Rider Reviews

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December 5, 2016
161205: "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." - The Book of Revelation, Chapter 6, Verse 8. The mysterious Preacher (Clint Eastwood), Death, brings protection, and a little too much belief, to a group of miners tormented by a powerful mining corporation and its owner, Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart). Some fun and unique characters including the beautiful Megan Wheeler (Sydney Penny); Club, more likely recognized as "Jaws" (Richard Kiel) of James Bond fame; Josh LaHood (a youthful Chris Penn) and Deputy Mather (Billy Drago). Love the unexplained relationship between the Preacher, Sheriff Stockburn (John Russell) and his deputies. Though paced a little slow, Pale Rider keeps the viewer focused enough to prepare for the impending violence. The mystical nature of this film is addictive and the unexplained relationships demand explanation...but receive none.
½ October 21, 2016
Mysterious preacher with a skill for self-defense and offense comes to the aid of struggling treasure seekers who are being bullied to leave the legal claims to land that likely contains riches in gold. Great cast with secondary characters Doug McGrath and sorely missed Chris Penn as value adds. I've seen this one three times and it has gotten better with each viewing.
October 16, 2016
Absolutely stunning.
August 21, 2016
Clint as a violent, vengeance seeking ghost-like preacher with religious overtones from Rev. 6:8. In many ways a variation on a familiar theme (man with no name, big shoot out at the end, High Plains Drifter)--the quiet ambiguous western loner character that ultimately shoots his way to justice in the most macho, albeit implausible, battles. Eastwood would finally perfect this sort of story line with Unforgiven.
Super Reviewer
August 5, 2016
Even without a ton of dialogue, Clint Eastwood earns my attention in Pale Rider based on pure charisma and stature. He's done many great westerns, but this one ranks up there among his best.

Of the many interesting things about a lot of Eastwood's westerns is that he often plays a wandering mysterious figure who happens to come upon conflict. Pale Rider is no different. This time, Eastwood is known as 'The Stranger' and 'The Preacher' who decides to help a small village of people from miners who intend to take over their land. For all intents and purposes, this feels a whole lot like a fresh take on the Seven Samurai structured story, but with only one bada** man.

If it wasn't obvious already, I'm very high on Eastwood's performance here. He seems like a humble and honest man in his mannerisms but when push comes to shove, no one can take him in a gun battle. The supporting cast is formidable for the story they're telling. But besides some fun Richard Kiel moments, and an interesting 3rd act arrival from John Russell, the cast is really nothing to ride home about.

Touting the lone two female characters are Carrie Snodgress and Sydney Penny as a mother and daughter from the village the Preacher is trying to protect. Although I think their performances are solid, some of the character decisions made them feel much more hollow and more down the line of clichéd females in film, sadly. Not to mention the unnecessary romantic angles Eastwood took with his direction of them.

In terms of a western, Pale Rider hits all the beats you want. It has a compelling lead, high stakes, and one amazing gun-blazing final scene. If you're looking for another well-strung western from Eastwood, this is the film for you, even if some of the supporting characters and shoe-stringed romance misses the mark completely.

+Eastwood as the Preacher is gold

+Final battle

+Fun appearances from Richard Kiel and John Russell

-Romance angle is botched

April 13, 2016
An excellent Western, arguably the best western on the 80s. Eastwood is flawless in his portrayal of the "Preacher".
½ March 17, 2016
Another solid western from the master. The spiritual overtones of the angel of death riding into town to save the day really set this one apart.
½ February 26, 2016
One of Clint's best.
½ February 25, 2016
I have seen this one a couple of times over the years. All good stuff. It's just starting to look a bit dated. But sit back and enjoy ! Clint is the man !
January 14, 2016
As with any Clint Eastwood western, Pale Rider demanded immediate attention.

Being the first major Hollywood-produced western after the failure of the industry-changing Heaven's Gate (1980), Pale Rider sends the genre soaring once again. Prior to the genre churning out Best Picture Oscar-winning triumphs Dances with Wolves (1990) and Unforgiven (1992), Pale Rider was one of the first sparks to revive the genre, and it does so brilliantly. Being Clint Eastwood's big return to the western genre after nine years, the man has gotten older and so he plays a character appropriate to this theme in the film. If you can trust anyone to create a western which will have commercial appeal yet not falter in appealing to genre aficionados, then Clint Eastwood is easily the way to go.
Pale Rider has a premise which serves as an affectionate throwback to the glory days of Clint Eastwood's career in western films with a story that has elements of A Fistful of Dollars (1964), yet it goes much further. The structure of the narrative is very much in the style of High Noon (1952) in the sense that it saves the action for the climax and builds slow and effective drama up until then. There are also plot points borrowed from Shane (1953) and True Grit (1969), so there is a wide legacy of great western films that Pale Rider reaches out to. The result makes the film a nostalgia-fuelled experience, yet it is not so reliant on these pre-established films that it cannot stand on its own two feet. In short, while Pale Rider works to bring back the magnificence of the Western genre with modern technology behind the camera, it cleverly plays into the story a sense that it is indebted to many classics of the genre and becomes an entertaining nostalgia trip and step forward at the same time. Admittedly it does succumb to some of the predetermined generic flaws of many western films such as a long running time and slow pace which may bother some viewers slightly more in this film due to the way the action is spread out, but those who can appreciate the heart and subtext of Pale Rider will certainly find approval in the vision of Michael Butler and Dennis Shryack's script.
With the best intentions at heart, Pale Rider has a very touching story. Rather than succumbing to the more violent tendencies of earlier Clint Eastwood films, Pale Rider is able to bring back the man's keen eye for strong action without being shallow about it. This time, the film actually has commentary to make on violence. With the lead character being a man who simply goes by the title of "Preacher" and doesn't shoot first, Pale Rider is a film preaching a message of peace. Since there is religious allegories to the protagonist yet nothing rendering the film a straight-up religious piece, Pale Rider is simply a film which knows how to appeal to a wide crowd with a message of community and standing up for what is right. Its themes are very much traditional of the Western genre yet they are explored in a revisionist fashion, giving the film enough insight for the production to find value beyond is mere stylish appeal.
The visual style of Pale Rider is remarkable. Western films are known for having a dry, rough colour palette to capture the dreary grit of the old west. Yet set in the snow rather than the dirt, Pale Rider captures a different setting of harsh wilderness. The change of setting ends up using far more tints of white as a result, and though there is enough shade to reflect the gritty setting of the film, there is a feeling of angelic light in the film which illuminates the screen. Clint Eastwood's passion for the genre has not lost its sense of style because he takes a new path in this film, though he also relies on techniques he has established a greatness for and uses them well. The cinematography is a key example of this because Pale Rider uses strong widescreen cinematography with plenty of angles that grasp the scale of the story and the state of mind the characters are in. The editing is also executed with expertise, as are the sound effects and composition of the musical score which is laid into the film gently enough to moderate the bleak silence of the setting with a restrained score. The action scenes are also impressive as this is where the cinematography requires and gets the most precision while the editing is sped up to intensify things without going too fast.
And refusing to succumb to any shortcomings, Pale Rider benefits from a skilful cast.
Clint Eastwood directs himself through another strong performance. Though he has portrayed nameless heroes before, Pale Rider presents him in an aged state where he pursues a more peaceful route of resolution. He seems slower and wiser, yet not weaker in the slightest because he still has the same intense nature about him and a strong ability to battle his way through the action. What's most remarkable is a sense of humility in him. He is a gentle soul who can tear through the enemies without ever detracting from a the gentle spirit of his character, meaning he is a badass but a genuinely more likable character. Clint Eastwood's natural charms are as active as ever while his grit is a little more restrained, and the result is a beautiful leading performance.
Sydney Penny is the other standout of Pale Rider. Leading the main subplot of the story, Sydney Penny makes Pale Rider more touching and insightful by being the predominant source of the coming-of-age themes in the film. Echoing memories to Mattie Ross from True Grit, Sydney Penny shares a beautiful chemistry with Clint Eastwood which assists her in letting the character grow over the course of the narrative. Her vulnerability is a juvenile element yet her desire to face the world is very adult which means she captures the perfect bridge between periods of age in her character and does it with both grace and tension. Sydney Penny is a wonderful young actress in Pale Rider.
Chris Penn and Michael Moriaty also deliver solid performances.

So though it is as slow and long as one would expect, Pale Rider is a brilliant throwback to the glory days of the Western genre and a step into contemporary revisionist material benefiting from Clint Eastwood's undying charisma as an actor and visionary passion as a director.
½ December 2, 2015
Clint Eastwood has a great character here.
½ October 12, 2015
A good Western that almost feels like a lighter version of High Plains Drifter.
July 29, 2015
With an improved Clint Eastwood in the directing role, Pale Rider is a must see for any western fan
½ June 30, 2015
Watching "Pale Rider" for the 12th time. One of the best westerns ever made. Clint Eastwood is the man!
½ May 30, 2015
Some part where good, but some of the acting and some scenes were bad.
April 18, 2015
The Preacher With No Name rides into town to defend a small band of hard scrabble miners against a corrupt mining magnate who wants to run them off. Part Shane, part Sergio Leone, and all Eastwood, this is a stylish Western with all the right ingredients. Here and there the dialogue is corny but overall this was a good Western with its heart in the right place.
January 31, 2015
Thugs working for big-time miner Coy LaHood (Richard Dysart) ride in and destroy the camp of a group of struggling gold miners and their families who have settled in nearby Carbon Canyon of Lahood, California. In leaving, they also shoot the little dog of fourteen-year-old Megan Wheeler (Sydney Penny). As Megan buries it in the woods and prays for a miracle, a stranger is heading to the town on horseback. Megan's mother, Sarah (Carrie Snodgress), is keeping company with Hull Barret (Michael Moriarty), the leader of the miners. Hull heads off into town to pick up supplies, where the same thugs start to beat him up and he is rescued by the stranger (Clint Eastwood), who takes the men on single-handedly. Hull invites him to his house, and shortly after, he appears wearing a clerical collar and thereafter is called Preacher. Coy LaHood's son Josh (Chris Penn) attempts to scare Preacher with a show of strength from his giant work hand, Club (Richard Kiel), who with one hammer blow smashes a large rock that Preacher and Hull had been laboring over. When Club attempts to attack Preacher, he hits him in the face with his hammer and delivers a blow to Club's groin. Coy LaHood has been away in Sacramento and is furious to learn about Preacher's arrival through his son, since this will stiffen the resistance of the tin-panners. When Preacher arrives in town and confronts LaHood, he offers to buy the miners out, initially for $100, then $125 and then the Preacher goads him into raising his offer to $1,000 per claim, but only if they leave within 24 hours; otherwise LaHood threatens to hire a corrupt Marshal named Stockburn to clear them out. The miners initially want to take the offer but, when Hull reminds them why they came and what they have sacrificed, they decide to stay and fight. The next morning, however, the Preacher disappears. Megan, who has grown fond of the Preacher, heads out looking for him, but Josh captures her on LaHood´s premises and attempts to rape her, whilst his cohorts look on and encourage him. Club sees what is happening and moves forward to help her before Josh can do anything serious. At this moment the Preacher arrives on horseback armed with a revolver and after having shot Josh in the hand when he goes for his gun, he takes Megan back to her mother in the mining camp. Preacher will finally set the score with Stockburn and LaHood...

"Pale Rider" was the highest grossing western at the box-office made and released during the 1980s. In an audio interview, Clint Eastwood said that his character Preacher "is an out-and-out ghost". But whereas "High Plains Drifter" resolves its story-line by means of a series of unfolding flash back narratives (although ambiguity still remains), "Pale Rider" does not include any such obvious clues to the nature and past of the 'Preacher'. One is left to draw one's own conclusions regarding the overall story line and its meaning. The movie's title is taken from The Book of Revelation, chapter 6, verse 8: "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him." The reading of the biblical passage describing this character is neatly choreographed to correspond with the sudden appearance of the Preacher, who arrived as a result of a prayer from Megan, in which she quoted Psalm 23. So, this was the return of Eastwood´s classic "Man with no name" character and with that said this is a classic Eastwood western with revenge and retribution as the main theme, with other words nothing new per say, but in this case the "Man with no name" embody elements of the supernatural and is supposedly dead appearing as a ghost to take revenge on the man who killed him. I do like the biblical side message as it works, but at the same time Preacher becomes a bit too much of a knight in shining armour in my opinion. The cinematography is nice and the acting solid. Eastwood is however playing on a fine line with having Megan offering herself to him and being in love with him as she see him as a message from God. I don´t think that part works and the same goes for Megan´s final lines in the end. "Pale Rider" is not Eastwood's best western, but not bad either.
January 13, 2015
How this movie does not make the top 100 Westerns I do not know...

Eastwood at his best.

Well worth a look...
½ January 5, 2015
Did not believe he could do it.....make a so-so western.
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