High Plains Drifter (1972)

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Released 16-Oct-2002

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Production Notes
Biographies-Cast & Crew
Theatrical Trailer
Web Links
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1972
Running Time 100:39
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Clint Eastwood

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Clint Eastwood
Verna Bloom
Mariana Hill
Mitchell Ryan
Jack Ging
Ted Hartley
Billy Curtis
Geoffrey Lewis
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $24.95 Music Dee Barton

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (96Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
German Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

High Plains Drifter was the second film Clint Eastwood directed, and not a huge success like his first, Play Misty for Me. I think he probably felt that, and that resulted in him essentially remaking the film over a decade later, in Pale Rider I certainly much prefer the later one. The two films are far from identical, but they have lots in common, especially the lone rider in the heat haze. The other film this reminded me of was The Wraith, which could be thought of as an updated derivative of this (much as Fatal Attraction is an updated derivative of Play Misty for Me).

The Stranger (Clint Eastwood that's how he's billed in the credits...) rides out of the heat haze, and up to a small town called Lago (misspelled Largo in the subtitles to one of the trailers), while the opening credits are running. He's dusty, and clearly been riding for quite a while. His horse's hooves make a lot of noise as he rides down the main street, a noise that is quite audible because there's almost no other sound. Everyone is looking at the stranger. He parks his horse at the end of the street, then walks back to the saloon, which has a hitching rail outside it (nope, dunno why he didn't stop there maybe he's lost hubcaps parking outside a bar before?). He asks for a beer and a bottle (of whisky), and some peace to drink in. He gets two out of three.

The Stranger has an eventful first day. Before long he's killed a number of men, and raped a woman (this last, I think, was the biggest mistake he made in directing this film all his other actions are justifiable, but the rape isn't. I think that's why the attempted rape in Pale Rider is committed by the bad guy, and stopped by Eastwood's character.).

Meanwhile, the townsfolk are talking about what's going on, and eventually approach him with a proposition. Seems there's three men getting out of prison the next day, and they've vowed to return to the town for revenge (shades of High Noon). They need a gunfighter to protect them (when you see them try to shoot, it's clear why!), and they'll offer anything in the town in recompense. The Stranger reluctantly accepts, but they end up wishing he hadn't...

One thing that wasn't clear to me originally was the flash-back scenes of the former marshal of Lago, Jim Duncan. At first I thought that this role was played by Clint Eastwood, but it isn't. It's Buddy Van Horn, but he has a beard, and looks a lot like Eastwood.

This is not a bad film, but I consider Pale Rider much better Eastwood had clearly matured as a director by then. Don't let that stop you buying it, but if you are choosing between the two, then get Pale Rider first.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


This DVD is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 (Eastwood has always liked the scope ratio for his Westerns), and is 16x9 enhanced. That's the original theatrical aspect ratio.

The image is very attractive, and very easy on the eyes. There's just a hint of softness, enough to mitigate any tendency toward aliasing, without hurting the visuals at all. Shadow detail is very good, even when we move from brilliant outdoor sunshine into dim interiors. There is no trace of low-level noise. In some of the darker scenes there are traces of film grain.

Colour is intense in the incredible blue sky, but is muted in the tones of the town that's deliberate production design, not a defect in the source material. There's still richness in the colours, but they are muted colours. There are no colour-related artefacts.

There are innumerable film artefacts, but they range from small to tiny to miniscule. There are spots, specks, and flecks, both black and white, but there isn't a single one worth pointing out. OK, just so I can say I've pointed out something, have a look at 56:25 that's one example where the picture gets particularly spotty for a moment.

There is very little aliasing (see 86:46 on the weatherboards of the building), a tiny bit of moire, and no MPEG artefacts.

There are subtitles in fourteen languages, including English. I only checked the English. They are accurate enough, easy to read, and well-timed to the dialogue.

The disc is single-sided and single layered. The single layer is almost enough to hold everything, although I think this may be the reason the bit rate is fairly low, resulting in a bit of mosquito noise in the backgrounds.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


The soundtrack is available in five languages, including English. I only listened to the English soundtrack. All the soundtracks are Dolby Digital 1.0, so there is no confusion about possible surround encoding or stereo; this is unambiguously mono. The original soundtrack was mono, so that's fine.

The dialogue is mostly clear and comprehensible, even with the Western accents. There are no audio sync problems.

This score is from Dee Barton. It is quite eerie, and suits the action well. There are silences, too. It's a wise man who knows when score is not required (or desirable).

The centre channel speaker bears the whole load of this soundtrack, unless you have bass management enabled and your centre channel marked as small in the amplifier setup.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


There are not much in the way of extras, but at least they've tried.


The menu is static and silent, themed nicely to the movie.

Production Notes

Eleven pages of notes, talking about the production of this film.

Bios Cast and Filmmakers

We get three page biographies for three actors: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, and Mariana Hill. The filmographies follow the bios, with 7 pages for Eastwood, 1 page for Verna Bloom, and 2 pages for Mariana Hill.

Theatrical Trailer

A typical trailer in that it gives away most of the plot - don't watch it before you watch the movie. The sound is a bit distorted.

Web Links

There are web links on the disc, or you can simply visit http://www.universalstudios.com/home.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 1 version of this film was released a while back. It has a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack, but it is just as mono as the soundtrack on the R4. The big difference is that the R1 is not 16x9 enhanced, while the R4 is for a 2.35:1 movie that's an important difference. The extras are the same (well, the R1 doesn't have the web link, but that's fairly negligible). The transfer isn't quite as good on the R1, and there's quite a bit more aliasing but that's probably attributable, at least in part, to the lack of 16x9 enhancement.

The R4 is definitely the better disc.


A decent Western revenge film, on a nicely made, if somewhat basic, DVD.

The video quality is quite good.

The audio quality is perfectly adequate.

The extras are fairly basic, but better than nothing.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Friday, October 25, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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