Writer: Michael Butler, Dennis Shryack (Screenplay)
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Michael Moriarty, Carrie Snodgress, Chris Penn, Richard Dysart, Sydney Penny, Richard Kiel
Plot: A mysterious preacher (Clint Eastwood) protects a humble prospector village from a greedy mining company trying to encroach on their land.
Tagline – .. and hell followed with him.
Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Gritty Western
Story: Pale Rider starts as we see how Hull Barret (Moriarty) is leading a prospector village that is getting terrorised by the LaHood mining company, owner Coy (Dysart) and his son Josh (Penn) are trying to run them off the land with the raids. Hull who is starting to mount up the debts finds himself being protected by a mysterious Preacher (Eastwood) who gives the village more hope than ever.
Thoughts on Pale Rider
Characters – The Preacher witnesses the attack on Hull, he shows how to win a fight in non-lethal combat, he stays with Hull’s family showing the whole village that they could have somebody to protect them, he doesn’t want any part of a war, just to support a hard-working village. Hull is the one member of the village everybody looks up to, he will continue to go against anything that the LaHood’s want and has been trying to keep the village together. Sarah is the woman Hull lives with, she has seen her husband pass away and wants the best for her daughter, even if that might end up being Hull, she only ever puts her daughter’s safety out first. Josh LaHood is the son of the owner of the mining company running the operations, he will use the dirty tactics to try and push Hull and his people out.
Performances – Clint Eastwood plays into his strengths through the film, not giving himself too many lines and playing the mysterious figure that has a past. Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgress bring the more serious longer sequences as the characters who seem to have more to lose if things don’t come out in their favour. Chris Penn does make his villainous figure stand out as somebody truly evil not just greedy.
Story – The story here follows a prospector village that is being raided by a mining company that find an unlikely savoir in a mysterious preacher that brings them hope to defeat the rich company who is trying to push them out. The story does play out like nearly every western you have seen, a dangerous gang trying to use the numbers to put a small group under pressure before a stranger comes to their rescue. The pace plays out like normal to with the small incident slowly gathering steam before the two sides come to a full blown war towards each other. It might not be original, but it does the basics right with each moment feeling like it does make a big impact on the characters involved.
Western – The western side of the film shows us just how the themes are being used to show what happens to the characters, with the sets and the story.
Settings – The film does create the village you would expect to see for the time, the town and the backdrop looking beautiful through the film.
Final Thoughts – This is a gritty by the book western, it does everything right without being anything we haven’t seen before.
Overall: By the Book Western.