Clint Eastwood's second film as a director (and his first Western) is a variation on the "man with no name" theme, starring Eastwood as the drifter known only as "the Stranger." He rides into the desert town of Lagos and is quickly attacked by three gunmen. Recovering with the aid of a local dwarf (a memorable role for Billy Curtis), the Stranger is hired by the intimidated townsfolk to fend off a band of violent ex-convicts. After teaching the citizens self-defense and instructing them to paint the entire town red and rename it "Hell," the Stranger vanishes. He reappears when the marauding criminals arrive, and delivers justice and teaches the townsfolk a harsh lesson about moral obligation. Is he a figure from their past or a kind of supernatural avenger? Combining humor with action, High Plains Drifter is both a serious and tongue-in-cheek tribute to the Westerns that made Eastwood a household name. --Jeff Shannon
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