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High Plains Drifter (1973)

R  |   |  Western  |  22 August 1973 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 33,917 users  
Reviews: 162 user | 69 critic

A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Callie Travers (as Mariana Hill)
Jack Ging ...
Ted Hartley ...
Stacey Bridges
Scott Walker ...
Bill Borders
Walter Barnes ...
Sheriff Sam Shaw
Asa Goodwin


A Stranger rides into in the dusty mining town of Lago, where the townspeople are living in the shadow of a dark secret. After a shootout leaves the town's hired-gun protectors dead, the town's leaders petition the Stranger to stay and protect them from three ruthless outlaws who are soon to be released from prison. The three have their sights set on returning to Lago to wreak havoc and take care of some unfinished business. A series of events soon has the townspeople questioning whether siding with the Stranger was a wise idea as they quickly learn the price that they each must pay for his services. As the outlaws make their way back into Lago, they discover that the town is not exactly as they had left it, and waiting in the shadows is the Stranger, ready to expose the town's secret and serve up his own brand of justice. Written by bob-oconnor1964

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


They'd never forget the day he drifted into town. See more »




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 August 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ein Fremder ohne Namen  »

Box Office


SEK 1,512,351 (Sweden)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shortly after the film's release, Clint Eastwood wrote to John Wayne, suggesting that they make a western together. Wayne sent back an angry letter in reply, in which he denounced this film for its violence and revisionist portrayal of the Old West. Eastwood did not bother to answer his criticisms, and consequently they did not work together. See more »


At the ambush, the stranger places the stick of dynamite just back from the edge of the slope. When it explodes, the explosion is a couple of feet down the slope from the edge, not where the dynamite was placed. See more »


[first lines]
The Stranger: Beer... and a bottle.
Lutie Naylor: Ain't much good, but it's all there is.
[brings drinks]
Lutie Naylor: You want anything else?
The Stranger: Just a peaceful hour to drink it in.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing shot of The Stranger disappearing into the heatwaves plays out over the end credits. See more »


Featured in The Slanted Screen (2006) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Welcome to Lago, no actually its Hell!
4 August 2005 | by (the Mad Hatter's tea party.) – See all my reviews

A mysteriously callous stranger (Clint Eastwood) rides out of the desert into a small town called Lago and terrifies the locals by raping a lady and treading over the townsfolk, but when he kills three cowboys who wanted to make something out of nothing. The inhabitants are grateful that he freed them, but then they try to hire him to protect from three more cowboys who will return back to town when they finish their jail sentence in the next day or two. The stranger refuses the offer at first but when they tell him he can take anything for free and have power over the town he accepts the offer. Through this power he changes things around in town for his pleasure and this causes disruption amongst the locals who seem to regret hiring him.

Oh, I just love this bewildering film and I can't get enough of it! What we get here is a brutally mystical revenge western by Director/Star Clint Eastwood. I was totally mesmerised by it and Eastwood's direction is on the boil by capturing a strong essence of charm and also discomfort. It has a lot of elements going for it that it makes you (well, me) want to watch it over and over again. That's probably a good idea too, as thorough symbolisms and blinding supernatural occurrences fill the cryptic story. Some you might pick up on, while others don't seem to standout but are hidden under the material. Those enigmatic factors really keep your full interest, as the plot is played out very well with an eerie beginning that just pulls you in and then it ends with such a cunning conclusion. Before we get to the conclusion the haunting climax definitely builds sheer dread and packs bite with its visuals… a lot of bite! There's not much action in the film, but the story's subplots is what guides it and slowly builds the questions. You just wonder - There's got to be more to this new stranger in town and the townsfolk seemed to be keeping some hidden secret (or sin) behind close doors? The more the story builds on those the queries the less you seem to worry about the lack of gunfights and brawls. You actually start to read more into these mysteries when some of the questions are answered towards the end. Though, also watching the stranger toy around with the (guilty) townsfolk is pretty riveting stuff.

Another feature that blows you away would be how atmospheric it does get, with a pounding and alienating score that ticks away with its high pitch and howling sounds. These just added more unease to Eastwood's character when he was on screen with this humming score in the background. It just holds such an inspiring awe with its striking rigorous and desolated backdrop that went hand-to-hand with the brood horror and hell that follows the town's inhabitants. Engrossing scenery fills the back-shot with its vast mountains ranges and open spaces of dirt and rocks. One thing that stood out for me was the quieter moments, when it focused on body language and facial expressions to portray emotions. This really added to the alarming mood and a fairly sparse script was incredibly effective in making it highly-strung. Even the uneasy sound effects are used to great effect, especially in a particular nightmare scene. Violence is pretty much in your face and at times rather brutal, but Eastwood paces it superbly and fits it into the story. The humour that fills the story is a bit of a variety as sometimes there would be some subtle and dry humour, but then again when the dwarf was on screen it seems to play more as a loud joke. Steady camera-work is evident with plenty angle shots from behind and above and the occasional zoom. The texture of the film's material and powerful visuals is real moody, daring and it has a fairly cold-hearted tone to it all. It just leaves you with such an empty feeling.

Performance wise the cast was nothing but top-grade. Dauntingly malevolent is a good way to describe Eastwood persona as the mysterious stranger, in which he gives a typically first-rate and hypnotic performance (as usual). Is he some sort of Revenging Angel or a ghost of the past? This is what you ask. But anti-hero definitely comes to mind. The supporting cast is exceptional with the likes of the Verna Bloom, Billy Curtis, Marianna Hill, Mitch Ryan, Stefan Gierasch and Jack Ging.

This is one spellbinding semi-supernatural Western!

17 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The reason you're all arguing about the rape scene. leapgirl16
Painting the town red? jonathan1956
oh so its not rape? then why would she try to shoot him the next day! jme90
'It's what people know about themselves inside that makes them afraid.' Gonsaro
'High Plains Drifter' remake: what would they do differently? lou-114
Interpretation of a quote mrnoonmaths
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