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"High Plains Drifter"


Terrence1
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I just watched this movie for the first time. It was recently featured on TCM. I must have missed something, because I have two questions. Why did Clint Eastwood's character demand that the town be painted red? Also, why did he want to collect all the bed sheets in the town?

 

Terrence.

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I think roverrocks is correct that the red color is just an embodiment of hell since most classic depictions throughout the arts are red (hot color).

 

Based on my recollection of the film, the bedsheets were used as tablecloths for the feast they were to have for the boys. In decades past, families would often use bedsheets for tablecloths since most people were too poor to have nice ones for special occasions. Since the whole town was "welcoming" the boys home, they needed a lot of tablecloths. The old Italian song "Lazy Mary" (the one that Mama Corleone and others are singing at Connie's wedding in "The Godfather") makes reference to this tradition. Lou Monte does a version of the song that includes an English translation which is quite specific. Although the English translation is rather benign, the native version is considered quite dirty. That is why they laugh when the old man sings one of the more risque verses in "The Godfather". For those of you who grew up in Italian-American neighborhoods, you remember that this scene was standard fare at weddings and other celebrations that often went on for days. Buona Giornata!

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Bedsheets:

The Stranger asks two Mexican laborers to use lumber from Belding's barn to build picnic tables. When Naylor, who overheard, questions the picnic, he's told he is furnishing the beer and whiskey. Belding arrives. The Stranger overrules his objection to his barn being torn down, and tells him to provide 35 bedsheets for the picnic. Mordecai, the Stranger's new sidekick, says they also need someone to provide a barbecued steer and 200 gallons of red paint. Finally, the Stranger orders Belding to get everyone out of his hotel. Flabbergasted, Belding asks where his live-ins are supposed to go. The Stranger replies, "Out."

As tommy said.. probably used as tablecloths - and to make banners
to string across the main street.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 1 year later...

Does anyone here who has seen High Plains Drifter have any thoughts about the film?

I have read nothing factual about who The Drifter is supposed to be, as far as a character in the film. I have read many speculations here and elsewhere. The only clue seems to be at the very end when The Drifter rides out of town, as Mordecai is carving on a headstone:
 
The next day, the Stranger departs, slowly riding through the ruined town in the same manner he arrived. At the cemetery, he passes Mordecai carving a fresh grave marker. Mordecai comments to the departing Stranger that he never did know his name, to which the Stranger answers cryptically, "Yes, you do." A look of astonishment crosses the little man's face, and he enigmatically replies "yes, sir, captain" and salutes. The camera pulls back to reveal that the wooden marker carved by Mordecai reads, "MARSHAL JIM DUNCAN. REST IN PEACE." The Stranger rides out, vanishing into the haze.
 
I've always assumed we're to believe The Drifter is the spirit of the murdered sheriff returned to extract payment from the townspeople and town as a whole. Is there a name in literature for such an entity?
 
Although I love to suspend belief while watching movies, I have never been comfortable with this ending; but that's the movies... I can accept it as offered.
 
I like this film. This is one of my favorite Clint Eastwood films which I happen to feel is very similar in many respects to Pale Rider. I can't watch one without thinking of the other.
 
Thanks for dragging that out of me..
:)
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When I attended film school at USC in the mid-1990s, I took an advanced course called 'Terminal Cinema' and this film, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, was the focus during one of the weeks of the semester/syllabus. 

 

I did not always agree with the professor's take on things, because some of what he said was pretty far out there. But his interpretation was that Eastwood was basically playing a Satanic character-- that the anti-Christ had been unleashed on the town, as evidenced by the various goings-on. The rape of the woman at the beginning is definitely an unholy act, so maybe the professor was on to something.

 

Or else on something.

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  • 2 weeks later...

When I attended film school at USC in the mid-1990s, I took an advanced course called 'Terminal Cinema' and this film, HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER, was the focus during one of the weeks of the semester/syllabus.

 

I did not always agree with the professor's take on things, because some of what he said was pretty far out there. But his interpretation was that Eastwood was basically playing a Satanic character-- that the anti-Christ had been unleashed on the town, as evidenced by the various goings-on. The rape of the woman at the beginning is definitely an unholy act, so maybe the professor was on to something.

 

Or else on something.

That's a really dark movie. It sure isn't your typical western,that's for sure. I don't know if he is the anti-christ,

but he's definitely come back from the grave,(or an evil spirit in the likeness of him) to pay retribution to an evil town,with evil people in it,for the evil things they've done. Hey,Topbilled...how did you like USC Filmschool? You must have done some really neat things.

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That's a really dark movie. It sure isn't your typical western,that's for sure. I don't know if he is the anti-christ,

but he's definitely come back from the grave,(or an evil spirit in the likeness of him) to pay retribution to an evil town,with evil people in it,for the evil things they've done. Hey,Topbilled...how did you like USC Filmschool? You must have done some really neat things.

Hey Chris,

 

Thanks for asking. It was called the USC School of Cinema-Television when I attended. But I think they've expanded it now to include digital and multi-media studies. It was fun. I had courses in writing, in production (involving directing), and in theory/film criticism.

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Hey Chris,

 

Thanks for asking. It was called the USC School of Cinema-Television when I attended. But I think they've expanded it now to include digital and multi-media studies. It was fun. I had courses in writing, in production (involving directing), and in theory/film criticism.

Do you still live and work in LA? I hope you got to do some things in your studies,I know how hard that industry really is.
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Do you still live and work in LA? I hope you got to do some things in your studies,I know how hard that industry really is.

Yes, I did. I worked on a few television series in production. Then, I went overseas and did a radio job, as a voice actor. I do not live in Los Angeles anymore. My father had cancer this past year, and I returned to the midwest to be a temporary caregiver for him.

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Yes, I did. I worked on a few television series in production. Then, I went overseas and did a radio job, as a voice actor. I do not live in Los Angeles anymore. My father had cancer this past year, and I returned to the midwest to be a temporary caregiver for him.

Sorry to hear that. I had to take care of a family member,so I understand. Hang in there.
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