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High Plains Drifter (1973) Poster

Trivia

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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.
Universal Pictures wanted the film to be shot on the studio lot. Instead, Clint Eastwood had a whole town built in the desert near Mono Lake in the California Sierras. Many of the buildings were complete and three-dimensional, so that interiors could be shot on location.
The character of Marshal Duncan was played by stuntman Buddy Van Horn, a long-time stunt coordinator for Clint Eastwood, in order to create some ambiguity over whether he and The Stranger are one and the same.
One of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute.
The film came in under budget and two days ahead of schedule. Clint Eastwood is famous for being an extremely efficient director.
The town of Lago was built 300 miles away from Hollywood. A 46-man crew of technicians and 10 laborers worked 10-hours a day for 18 days constructing 14 houses and a two-story hotel. They were burned down at the film's completion.
Its seven minutes before Clint Eastwood says a word of dialogue, despite being in the film from the very first frame.
During an interview on Inside the Actors Studio (1994), Clint Eastwood commented that earlier versions of the script made The Stranger the dead marshal's brother. He favoured a less explicit and more supernatural interpretation and excised the reference. Although the Italian, Spanish, French and German dubbings retain it.
Clint Eastwood scouted the locations himself while driving a pickup truck through Oregon, Nevada and California. He chose the shores of Mono Lake because he considered the area highly photogenic. Additional scenes were filmed at Reno, Nevada's Winnemucca Lake and California's Inyo National Forest.
The strange colors make the town of Lago look different throughout the day scenes. Clint Eastwood supplemented this with eerie music, idiosyncratic photography as well as a weird dream sequence all adding to the supernatural atmosphere of the movie.
Controversial in its day but still a commercial hit, _High Plains Drifter (1973)_ is listed in the Motion Picture Guide as one of the best Westerns of the 1970s. However, some critics thought Eastwood's direction was too derivative of his mentor Don Siegel and the works of Sergio Leone.
The first time Clint Eastwood directed one of his Westerns.
Filmed in sequence.
Other headstones bear the names of Don Siegel (Clint Eastwood's director on five films, four of which preceded this one) and Brian G. Hutton (director of Where Eagles Dare (1968) and Kelly's Heroes (1970)). Patrick McGilligan's 2002 Eastwood biography quotes the star as saying, "I buried my directors."
Filmed in six weeks.
Editing of the film was done in a log cabin on the shores of Mono Lake.
Holds the 11th position of the highest grossing 1970s Westerns.
The first rape scene in a Clint Eastwood directed film, and he's the one committing the act. The first rape scene in a Clint Eastwood film was in For a Few Dollars More (1965).
Billy Curtis got a stiff neck from working with Clint Eastwood, but he said it was worth it to play such a wonderful part.
The opening/closing scenes are identical.
The Stranger is similar to The Man With No Name persona familiar to Clint Eastwood's Spaghetti Westerns, and they even wear a similar hat. The character in the film has no personal name and is only referred to in the billing as The Stranger.
Any holes in the plot were filled with black humour and allegory to Sergio Leone. Eastwood thought the allegory of the film was "a speculation on what happens when they go ahead and kill the sheriff and someone comes back and calls the town's conscience to bear. There's always retribution for your deeds."
The name of the town was Lago. The name that it was changed to was Hell. After the change, during filming, Clint Eastwood constantly told the cast and crew to "Go to Hell!'.
The amount of paint that was used to paint the western town red was 380 gallons.
One of the first Westerns that took a revisionist stance as opposed to the traditional ones of the genre.
The Bible verse on the wall of the church is Isaiah 53:3-4 which reads, "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted"
High Plains Drifter (1973) was made by Clint Eastwood's own Malpaso Productions, so he produced, directed and starred in it. He doesn't mind multitasking, as long as he can concentrate on his job(s).
Clint Eastwood read a 9-page proposal for High Plains Drifter (1973) while at Universal. He liked its offbeat quality and wanted to direct it.
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A possible alternate ending would had seen The Stanger, after riding away back into the desert wilderness and saying goodbye to Mordecai, confused and appears to be suffering from memory loss and doesn't remember arriving or leaving Lago and rides on to points unknown. That ending would had indicated that The Stranger had been possessed by the ghost of Marshal Jim Duncan and why The Stranger doesn't remember Lago, Mordecai, Callie Travers, the story of Marshal Duncan's murder or anything and Duncan's spirit has left his body and is now at peace, now his death has been avenged.
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The actors began to paint the houses of Lago red, but professionals finished them off.
150,000 feet of timber were used to build the town of Lago.
Clint Eastwood wanted an offbeat look for High Plains Drifter (1973); not the conventional look of a Western.
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For the climax, Clint Eastwood told everybody to "report to Hell".
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There is no spoken dialogue until six minutes into the film.
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Influenced by Clint Eastwood's two major collaborators Sergio Leone and Don Siegel.
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Although Clint Eastwood is in the last four minutes of the film, he is absent for much of the climax.
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Clint Eastwood's second film as director after he debuted with Play Misty for Me (1971).
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Although the whipping scene takes almost three minutes, Clint Eastwood has since reported he could have done it in two had not the quality of the leather in the whip used been compromised.
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First of seven Clint Eastwood movies to feature character actor Geoffrey Lewis, the others are Thunderbolt And Lightfoot, Every Which Way But Loose, Bronco Billy, Any Which Way You Can, Pink Cadillac, and Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil.
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The whipping scenes go on for almost three minutes.
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Most of the film is shot in daytime; only three sections of the film are shot at night.
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Scriptwriter Ernest Tidyman also wrote the novelization for the film.
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The framed photo on the wall of the saloon is of Mathew Brady, famous for his photos of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.
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The Stranger is quite a misogynistic character; e.g. his masochistic rape of Marianna Hill, etc.
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Dean Riesner did uncredited contributions to the script.
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Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
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A possible alternate ending would had seen Sarah Belding deciding to go with The Stranger when he leaves Lago.
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The film is not just a western, it is also a mystery and a thriller. The Stranger is a mysterious character.
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Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

The ending hints on three possibilities on who The Stranger is. 1) The Stranger could be the ghost of Marshall Jim Duncan. 2) The Stranger could be Marshall Duncan's brother or 3) The Stranger just happens to have the same name as Marshall Duncan.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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