Film Review – HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (1973)

Image result for high plains drifter 1973HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER (USA, 1973) ***½
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 6 April 1973 (USA), 31 August 1973 (UK); Filming Dates: July-August 1972; Running Time: 105m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Panavision; Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1; BBFC Cert: 18.
      Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Ernest Tidyman; Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Robert Daley; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Ferris Webster; Casting Director: William Batliner, Robert J. LaSanka (both uncredited); Art Director: Henry Bumstead; Set Decorator: George Milo; Costumes: James Gilmore, Joanne Haas, Glenn Wright (all uncredited); Make-up: Joe McKinney, Gary Morris (both uncredited); Sound: James R. Alexander.
      Cast: Clint Eastwood (The Stranger), Verna Bloom (Sarah Belding), Marianna Hill (Callie Travers), Mitchell Ryan (Dave Drake), Jack Ging (Morgan Allen), Stefan Gierasch (Mayor Jason Hobart), Ted Hartley (Lewis Belding), Billy Curtis (Mordecai), Geoffrey Lewis (Stacey Bridges), Scott Walker (Bill Borders), Walter Barnes (Sheriff Sam Shaw), Paul Brinegar (Lutie Naylor), Richard Bull (Asa Goodwin), Robert Donner (Preacher), John Hillerman (Bootmaker), Anthony James (Cole Carlin), William O’Connell (Barber), John Quade (Jake Ross), Jane Aull (Townswoman), Dan Vadis (Dan Carlin), Reid Cruickshanks (Gunsmith), Jim Gosa (Tommy Morris), Jack Kosslyn (Saddlemaker), Russ McCubbin (Fred Short), Belle Mitchell (Mrs. Lake), John Mitchum (Warden), Carl Pitti (Teamster), Chuck Waters (Stableman), Buddy Van Horn (Marshall Jim Duncan).
      Synopsis: A gunfighting stranger comes to the small settlement of Lago and is hired to bring the townsfolk together in an attempt to hold off three outlaws who are on their way.
      Comment: Eastwood’s second directorial effort is an interesting supernatural Western that trades on the persona he built with Sergio Leone and is filmed with the efficiency he learned from Don Siegel. The black humour was a late addition as Eastwood looked to move the story away from writer Tidyman’s initial revenge theme to something more mysterious. Eastwood assembled a good cast and technical crew. The Mono Lake location presents a remote community and adds to the mystery as does the eerie score by Dee Barton. Eastwood would rework the theme in 1985s PALE RIDER.
      Notes: Universal Pictures wanted the film to be shot on the studio lot. Instead, Eastwood had a whole town built in the desert near Mono Lake in the California Sierras. Many of the buildings were complete, so that interiors could be shot on location. One of the headstones in the graveyard bears the name Sergio Leone as a tribute. Other headstones bear the names of Don Siegel and Brian G. Hutton. Patrick McGilligan’s 2002 Eastwood biography quotes the star as saying, “I buried my directors.”

Film Review – PLAY MISTY FOR ME (1971)

Image result for play misty for me 1971PLAY MISTY FOR ME (USA, 1971) ****
      Distributor: Universal Pictures (USA), Cinema International Corporation (CIC) (UK); Production Company: The Malpaso Company; Release Date: 20 October 1971 (USA), 28 January 1972 (UK); Filming Dates: 14 September 1970 – October 1970; Running Time: 102m; Colour: Technicolor; Sound Mix: Mono (Westrex Recording System); Film Format: 35mm; Film Process: Spherical; Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1; BBFC Cert: 15 – strong violence.
       Director: Clint Eastwood; Writer: Jo Heims, Dean Riesner (from a story by Jo Heims); Executive Producer: Jennings Lang; Producer: Robert Daley; Associate Producer: Bob Larson; Director of Photography: Bruce Surtees; Music Composer: Dee Barton; Film Editor: Carl Pingitore; Art Director: Alexander Golitzen; Set Decorator: Ralph S. Hurst; Costumes: Helen Colvig, Brad Whitney; Make-up: Jack Freeman; Sound: Robert L. Hoyt, Robert Martin, Waldon O. Watson.
       Cast: Clint Eastwood (Dave), Jessica Walter (Evelyn), Donna Mills (Tobie), John Larch (Sgt. McCallum), Jack Ging (Frank), Irene Hervey (Madge), James McEachin (Al Monte), Clarice Taylor (Birdie), Don Siegel (Murphy), Duke Everts (Jay Jay), George Fargo (Man), Mervin W. Frates (Locksmith), Tim Frawley (Deputy Sheriff), Otis Kadani (Policeman), Britt Lind (Anjelica), Paul E. Lippman (2nd Man), Jack Kosslyn (Cab Driver), Ginna Patterson (Madalyn), Malcolm Moran (Man in Window).
      Synopsis: A brief fling between a male disc jockey and an obsessed female fan takes a frightening, and perhaps even deadly turn when another woman enters the picture.
      Comment: Slick, effective psychological thriller with an un-nerving performance from Walter as the obsessive fan who stalks Eastwood after having become his lover. Eastwood directs confidently and elicits strong performances from a talented cast. Riesner rewrote Heims’ original script, which included relocating to Carmel from San Francisco. It is a lean script with a taut narrative. The film only slows in an unnecessary detour to the Monterey Jazz Festival, indulging Eastwood’s love of music. The locations are sumptuously photographed by Surtees and Barton’s score, whilst sounding a little dated, adds an element of class. A major inspiration for 1987’s more celebrated FATAL ATTRACTION.
     Notes: Eastwood’s directorial debut. The first scene he shot was his former director Don Siegel’s cameo as a bartender. The concert scenes were filmed live at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Songs: “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” music and lyrics by Ewan McColl, sung by Roberta Flack, produced by Joel Dorn for Atlantic Records; “Hand Jive,” music and lyrics by David Lanz and E. Lightborn; “Misty” composed and performed by Erroll Garner, by arrangement with Octave Music Publishing Corp.; “Squeeze Me” by Duke Ellington.