Sunday, March 3, 2013

Pale Rider (1985)

Clint Eastwood (Non-Spaghetti) Western #3

Synopsis: It’s Heaven’s Gate meets High Plains Drifter meets Shane.

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “The world’s top box-office star is back in the saddle!”

What Did I Learn?: There’s nothing like a good piece of hickory. Oh, and Sacramento ain’t worth moose piss.

You Might Like This Movie If: You’ve always wanted to see Michael Moriarty (best remembered as D.A. Ben Stone from Law and Order) and Clint Eastwood work together.

Really?: 1) Um…why would Club (Richard Kiel, better remembered as Jaws in a couple of James Bond films) suddenly turn on his boss near the end? I realize the Preacher was nice to Club after striking him in the nuts(!) but really? 2) Hold on – Spider finds a massive gold-infused rock, and his first thought is to go into town without the Preacher’s protection, get blind-stinking drunk and then scream obscenities at LaHood’s headquarters? I realize it makes for a nice scene, but I had trouble believing a real tin-pan would behave that way, especially considering he knows that LaHood recently hired some killers. 3) So, nobody thought about dynamiting LaHood’s artificial dam until the Preacher does it near the end?

Rating: Pale Rider is a beautifully-filmed, and well-acted Western that’s set during the California gold rush. While I like this movie, and a number of performances stand out, the main problem with Pale Rider is that it’s VERY slow-moving, and not much actually happens until the end. Moreover, the Preacher always appears at just the right time and never seems to be in very much danger; Eastwood said in subsequent interviews that his character was a ghost or an avenging spirit, which is fine except that it sort-of lessens the tension if you get a sneaking suspicion the hero can’t die. 7.5/10 stars.

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