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Author Topic: high plains drifter again  (Read 13473 times)
welshrat
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« on: December 30, 2002, 11:19:56 AM »

hi i know this was asked on the old board but please humour me.In high plains drifter is clint a ghost or a relative of the man who died or did he never really die.And can u tell me if these two films are any good as there the only clint westerns i have yet to see Two mules for sister sara and Joe Kidd.Ta
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KC
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« Reply #1 on: December 30, 2002, 12:13:47 PM »

That's a question that's never quite answered in the film as released ... even though some foreign language versions have the Stranger saying of Duncan at the end, "He was my brother."

Eastwood is on record in several interviews as saying he wanted to leave it up to the imagination of the audience. Here's a slightly edited version of two earlier posts of mine from May, 2000 and January, 2001:
_______________________

From the video feature Clint Eastwood: The Man from Malpaso (1993):

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BUDDY VAN HORN: I played the part of the sheriff [i.e. Marshal Duncan]. I asked Clint later, I said, "Am I your brother, or is this like a reincarnation?" He said, "Well," he said, "just let the audience kinda make up their own mind."

EASTWOOD: An ambivalent statement, sometimes it allows the audience to think along with you, it allows the audience to participate in the process ... there's something nice about the participation, it's not just having a story dumped in their lap ... [Here follows a brief filmclip, in which we hear Stacy Bridges shout "Who are you?" as the Stranger prepares to gun him down.] ... the Stranger drifts off, and the people never know whether the Stranger is really a relative of the sheriff, which is the way it was originally written, or whether he is some ... angel of, uh ... death, that was sent down to torment them all.

There is also a RealAudio clip on this site with Eastwood's own comments. It goes like this:

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It was originally written that he was the brother of the marshal that was beaten. That’s the extension of the High Noon theme, where in High Noon the town refuses to come to the aid of their loyal sheriff in great time of need. This town has already done that, and the sheriff is dead ... and now they’re living with the guilt, and this brother comes back and makes sure they live with the guilt. You could recognize him as the ghost, or some avenging spirit, or you could recognize him as the brother. I played it more as an apparition. To just play it out simply as a relative coming back is really not very interesting. It’s gotta be like, the audience never really knows.

(This quote is in fact taken from an interview segment on the Starwave Eastwood CD-ROM, 1995)

So, originally it was actually in the script that the stranger is Duncan's brother, though direct references to that fact have been deleted in the version that was released ... except for some foreign language sountracks. The only reference now comes when the Stranger tells Mordecai, who has just been adding the name "Duncan" to the late Marshal's tombstone, that he does indeed know his (the Stranger's) name ... which would also be "Duncan," if he were the brother.

But since a brother couldn't know in such hallucinatory detail how the Marshal had met his end (as seen in the flashback), few spectators will be convinced by this explanation. Instead, they will prefer to "recognize him as the ghost, or some avenging spirit."

_____________________

So, Welshrat ... what do YOU think?

As to your other question, neither of the two films you mention is up to the standards of Clint's own westerns and the ones he starred in for Leone, but both are entertaining and worth watching ... in my opinion, anyway.

KC
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Daisy Abigael
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« Reply #2 on: December 30, 2002, 01:24:16 PM »

KC says:
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But since a brother couldn't know in such hallucinatory detail how the Marshal had met his end (as seen in the flashback), few spectators will be convinced by this explanation. Instead, they will prefer to "recognize him as the ghost, or some avenging spirit."

I don't doubt anything in your post, KC and agree heartily. :)

However, imagination could also account for the detail of the "flashback", qv Colonel Mortimer's visions of his sister's rape and murder.  I suppose it is still more mysterious, though, since the townsfolk have covered up what happened.  Still...
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KC
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« Reply #3 on: December 30, 2002, 02:59:50 PM »

Daisy, which of the flashbacks in For a Few Dollars More is Col. Mortimer's? I thought they were all Indio's ... even so, if Mortimer had seen the bodies after the murder-suicide, it wouldn't have been hard for him to fill in the details pretty much as they happened. Much harder to imagine how the Stranger could have had any detailed knowledge of the killing of Duncan, given the cover-up ... and the power of imagination, however great, wouldn't have been likely to give him virtually the same vision as that of the eyewitness, Mordecai, whose flashback we also see.

I wonder how, or whether, that question was addressed in the original script ... I have the novelization, which was done by the screenwriter, Ernest Tidyman. I'll have to skim through it to see if it contains any answers.

KC
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welshrat
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« Reply #4 on: December 30, 2002, 03:47:29 PM »

thanks for the prompt response.
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welshrat
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« Reply #5 on: December 30, 2002, 03:49:25 PM »

what about the other films i mentioned.
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KC
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« Reply #6 on: December 30, 2002, 03:55:56 PM »

what about the other films i mentioned.

See the end of my original answer, Welshrat ...  ;)

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As to your other question, neither of the two films you mention is up to the standards of Clint's own westerns and the ones he starred in for Leone, but both are entertaining and worth watching ... in my opinion, anyway.

KC
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welshrat
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« Reply #7 on: December 30, 2002, 04:01:08 PM »

sorry ignore my previous post i did not see your comments on the films.I personally am of the opinion it was a family member for example i got the opinion when he was talking to the lady in the hotel he knew about what had happened but she helped fill in some of the agps for him and i agree that he said his name was duncan because it was the name being written at the time
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KC
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« Reply #8 on: December 30, 2002, 04:09:59 PM »

Well, Clint would be pleased to see you've decided this question for yourself!

Isn't that better than being told something explicitly, three times over (and then HEARING it again in the score), the way most filmmakers do things?  ;)

KC
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Daisy Abigael
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« Reply #9 on: December 30, 2002, 07:26:00 PM »

Daisy, which of the flashbacks in For a Few Dollars More is Col. Mortimer's? I thought they were all Indio's

I was sure that the last one, the terrible one is shared between them or at least that is suggested in the cutting.

I'm probably wrong.
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KC
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« Reply #10 on: December 30, 2002, 07:58:54 PM »

Daisy, I just watched it again, and it begins and ends with a closeup of Indio's tormented visage, though when he "comes to" at the end, he hears Mortimer shouting "Indio! Listen to me! This is Colonel Mortimer! Douglas Mortimer! Does the name mean anything to you?"

I can't see that there's any suggestion that the flashback is shared by Mortimer, however.

Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

KC
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Daisy Abigael
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2002, 05:22:11 AM »

I think it depends on the version, KC.

I did a bit of checking - the old memory is getting a bit tricky in my old age - and found this in Christopher Frayling's Spaghetti Westerns (RKP 1981):

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Hollywood fantasies are re-enacted in neo-realist settings.  An interesting example of all this occurs in the flashback sequences of For a Few Dollars More.  These sequences (which show the rape of Mortimer’s sister by Indio) are shot through a red filter, and appear for most of the film as the violent, erotic, pot-induced fantasy of Indio:  but, at the climax of For a Few…, when the flashback is ‘explained’ for the first time, the fantasy seems to be shared by Mortimer (still the same violent, sado-erotic dream).  In terms of plot, this sharing simply tells us that the girl is Mortimer’s sister, and that Mortimer thus has a score to settle with Indio:  it could, however, also be read as a criticism of the apparently ‘paternal’ persona of Mortimer – for if Mortimer shares the flashback, then he was also there at the time (as a voyeur watching his sister’s rape), and if he recalls the events in the same way as Indio (red filter, distorting sounds, sado-eroticism), then he is enjoying the fantasy as well… [] …this is the least likely interpretation:  what is more likely is that Leone was concerned about the most ‘stylish’ way of presenting the flashback, and that he was simply making a point about the plot (retrospectively explaining Mortimer’s motivation throughout the film, and showing him to have been a Hollywood-type ‘goody’ all along – rather than either a callous bounty-hunter or a psychopathic nut).

(p180/1)

That's kinda how I remember it, KC.  But it's been a while.  Prof Frayling is making a heck of a lot out of a sequence which isn't there, don't you think? ???
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Daisy Girl!
KC
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2002, 09:40:22 AM »

I think it depends on the version, KC.
Good point, Daisy ... I had forgotten that this film, in particular, floats around in quite a few different variations. The flashback on the DVD seems to be complete, with Mortimer's sister's suicide and the bullet wound; Frayling himself mentions (p. 267 of the rev. ed., 1998)  that the "international print" omitted this crucial bit (and, perhaps, edited in a shot of Mortimer?)

Prof Frayling is making a heck of a lot out of a sequence which isn't there, don't you think? ???
I would say so! And if it's "there" at all, I'll go with this:
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... what is more likely is that Leone was concerned about the most 'stylish' way of presenting the flashback, and that he was simply making a point about the plot (retrospectively explaining Mortimer’s motivation throughout the film, and showing him to have been a Hollywood-type 'goody' all along – rather than either a callous bounty-hunter or a psychopathic nut).

When Frayling talks about the flashbacks in FAFDM in his new biography of Leone (2000), he no longer mentions the "fantasy [being] shared by Mortimer"; instead, he states (p. 197) ...
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... the flashback happens inside El Indio's head, but the music of the pocket-watch links it with Colonel Mortimer and his traumatic memories.

KC
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Daisy Abigael
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« Reply #13 on: December 31, 2002, 10:28:56 AM »

When Frayling talks about the flashbacks in FAFDM in his new biography of Leone (2000), he no longer mentions the "fantasy [being] shared by Mortimer"; instead, he states (p. 197) ...KC
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... the flashback happens inside El Indio's head, but the music of the pocket-watch links it with Colonel Mortimer and his traumatic memories.

Fascinating.  So the whole thing might have been based on a bogus version of the film in the first place and now Frayling has a more complete print he's altered his assertion!

Thanks KC!  

And happy New Year! :)


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Daisy Girl!
Christopher
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2002, 07:18:39 PM »

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In terms of plot, this sharing simply tells us that the girl is Mortimer's sister
Did Frayling get that from another variation of the movie? From what I remember, I didn't know the girl was Mortimer's sister until he mentions it to Eastwood's character; right after the "There seems to be a family resemblence" line (that may not be the exact quote).
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KC
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« Reply #15 on: December 31, 2002, 07:57:08 PM »

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In terms of plot, this sharing simply tells us that the girl is Mortimer's sister ...

Did Frayling get that from another variation of the movie? From what I remember, I didn't know the girl was Mortimer's sister until he mentions it to Eastwood's character; right after the "There seems to be a family resemblence" line (that may not be the exact quote).

I think Frayling has just got his cart before his horse here, so to speak ... though we might infer, from the connection via the flashback (whether it's suggested visually or just in the music) that Mortimer is so interested in bagging Indio because of the scene in the flashback ... there is NO WAY we could know that the girl is Mortimer's sister (and not, say, his daughter ... or maybe it could be the boy who's his brother, or his son?) until he tells us so at the end.  :P

KC
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william
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2003, 10:45:31 PM »

I agree kc, that the succes of this movie is hiding the identity of who this woman was until the end. Great piece of directing in this movie as well, and as for high plains drifter, I loved the little Sherriff/Mayor idea. What was the idea of painting the town red? Was it to signify that the town WAS Hell? :D
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KC
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« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2003, 11:34:26 PM »

William, there are a lot of "figures of speech" in High Plains Drifter that get turned into literal reality, or some distorted version of it; it's part of the fun of the movie. For instance, "This is going to be a picnic" ... followed by the picnic tables for the "welcoming home party," or "Five hundred an ear," followed by the Stranger's shooting one of the Carlin boys' ear off ... or Callie saying, "Actually, I eat like a bird" as she chomps down greedily on a chicken leg.

So, when the Stranger makes the townspeople literally "paint the town red," someone says, "When we get through, this place is going to look like hell" ... and then you see the Stranger painting over "Lago" in the sign outside town with the word "Hell."

KC
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william
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« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2003, 01:06:35 AM »

hi kc, sorry for the stupid thing that happened in the other board about the magazine. I need to watch my video again and check out all those you mentioned. i think i will check out the other movies, and jot down other figures of speech also. thanks for the homework ;D
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Christopher
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« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2003, 10:16:29 AM »

I watched High Plains Drifter last week with two friends of mine so it's still somewhat fresh in my mind. I recall that some of Marshall Jim Duncan's last words are "Damn you all to Hell." And that's pretty much what the Stranger does.

I think I like this movie more each time I watch it.
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