Pale Rider - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Pale Rider Reviews

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March 10, 2018
(First and only viewing - 3/10/2018)
October 31, 2017
Michael Moriarity steals this one from Clint. A gritty Western.
½ October 14, 2017
Clint Eastwood starring, directed and produced Western from 1985. A decade bereft of films from the genre.
The film follows a familiar pattern of Eastwood Westerns in that he plays a man with no name sort of character. A gunfighter sho mysteriously rides into town and saves the good decent folk and kills the nasty guys!
Perhaps that is an exaggeration he is called 'Preacher's because in an interesting twist he has a man of the cloth collar as well as been his usual hard as nails, sarcastic stranger.
I allude to the Spaghetti Western trilogy he starred in the 1960s and High Plains Drifter from the 1970s.
Pale Rider perhaps has religios symbolism. As well as being a preacher he appears to answer the prayers of a young lady in appearing to help a group of local gold diggers who search the streams for the gold that might make them a fortune.
In another scene the Preacher's wounds are shown
The bad guys are the mining company that want to grab the locals land using quite violent means to do so.
The casting is excellent from the bad guys to the locals.
The Preacher gently let's down the fourteen year old girl that has a romantic crush on him!
The direction by Eastwood himself includes some great scenery meant to be North California/Idaho.
I don't rate Pale Rider as Eastwood's best Western (I prefer Unforgiven or The Outlaw Josey Wales and even the 18 rated in the UK, High Plains Drifter). However it is certainly a good watch and an excellent 1980s Western.
½ August 13, 2017
Easily one of my favorite Western films which is primarily thanks to Clint Eastwood who not only directs but also stars in the biggest Western of the decade. Eastwood manages to give this film a classic feel while also dealing with timely themes such as environmental issues and religion without being too heavy handed on either. It also looks great, keeps the action grounded while also being fun, has a solid supporting cast, a great score and though the plot isn't the most original the script elevates it above its average roots.
Super Reviewer
June 25, 2017
A reworking of "Shane" and Eastwood's own "High Plains Drifter" that, while sporadically interesting, unfortunately lacks the emotional power of the former and the rage of the later.
½ April 7, 2017
Pale Rider encapsulate the two biggest genres in Eastwood's legacy: westerns and melodrama. A lone stranger shows up, he's more that he seems to be, he causes a stir, then he saves the town. Other than some super cool action (which we expect from Eastwood in this type of role), this is just a flatly basic western told in a flatly basic manner.
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
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