Plot: What’s it about?
Clint Eastwood as the mysterious stranger who rides into another town just in time to help a poor miner (Michael Moriarty…Who’ll Stop The Rain) who is being beaten by a group of hired thugs. Our hero Clint turns the tables on the thugs…beats them severely about the head and shoulders with a big stick… and Hull (Moriarty) gratefully invites him back to the miner’s camp for a meal and a place to sleep. Hull shares a cabin with a woman (Carrie Snodgress) and her daughter who are all abuzz by the stranger’s actions but when he enters the room for dinner they fall silent when they see the preacher’s collar around his neck. Constantly harassed by the rich mine baron (Richard Dysart) and his son (Christopher Penn) who want to drive the tin pans from their claims, the miners find strength in the preacher’s ability to fight for their cause. Carrie and her daughter jockey for the preacher’s attention but Clint has more important issues. Frustrated by the preacher, Dysart hires a sheriff and his deputies…professional killers…to remove Clint from the picture (I’ve got a million of ’em). The preacher trades his collar in for a couple of six guns and the final showdown is set.
By any standards this is a good western and more so because “they” (westerns) are slim pickens…I just can’t stop. One of the reasons Clint’s westerns work is because of the excellent casting of the actors around him. Even the small parts seem to be perfect in adding the right color and feel of the period. Usually the choice cast is a good balance to Clint’s character who is seen throughout the entire movie but in Pale Rider we see the opposite where the cast is the seen more and Clint comes in and out. Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgress (Diary Of A Mad Housewife) keep this from being a standard yarn especially between the obvious action scenes. I’m not sure as to the reasons behind the scarcity of westerns coming out of Hollywood but there is a starving audience willing to grab at even minimal offerings, except the Quick And The Dead of course (Sharon Stone)…including me. Even with the flaws described below I still enjoyed the movie and it is in my collection.
Video: How does it look?
The DVD has both wise screen and full screen versions so pick your favorite. Clint uses quality everything in his films especially in production, with his box office clout good budgets are probably easier to come by and I liked this transfer for the most part. I did find some black lines in the movie that were visible in the scene in Dysart’s office as he is trying to bribe the preacher so I have to deduct some points there but overall it was well done. I like the way the dark room…in several scenes…is used to hide the Clint’s face until he raises his head and his light framed face becomes clear, his expression making the statement.
Audio: How does it sound?
Somewhat disappointing except for the music score, which used the 5.1 well. There are a lot of echoes and hollow sounds during some of the action from the rear channels reminding me of a poorly done Dolby Surround but redeems itself in the end when the exploding dynamite is heard at the hydraulic mine…one of the few times my 130 watt Paradigm subwoofer woke up…not too pretentious I hope. The Outlaw Josey Wales is far superior in 5.1 even though it is much older.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Good cast/director bios, production notes and a couple of trailers but not much else.