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Author Topic: "High Plains Drifter" and "Django The Bastard"  (Read 15159 times)
EwFan62
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« Reply #20 on: April 05, 2003, 09:56:36 PM »

I posted a question on the "Spaghetti Western" bulletin board asking if anyone has seen "Django The Bastard" and if they can confirm or deny that it was the inspiration for "High Plains Drifter" or if "HPD" was a remake. At the very least, I asked these folks if they can compare the two films. Here are the responses I have received so far:

Response 1:

"Yes, I've seen it. Parallels a mysterious stranger appears to avenge (his) death at the hands of the repectable townsmen. Django carries grave markers with the day of his victims death and places them in front of their business establishments. Django appears and disappears as a ghost. Eastwood's character does the same thing. Both get their vengeance by killing those responsible for their own deaths. Flashbacks show how each was killed by those they are now pursuing. The basic stories are the same just told in different ways."

Response 2:

"It seems to me that Eastwood, in "High Plains Drifter", is even dressed a bit like Steffan in "Django the Bastard".
Both are wearing very dark clothes and their hats are almost identical.

Like Tom said, both films are very basically the same story told in different ways.

Does anybody else recall Eastwood (in an interview from about five or six years ago) trying to claim that his character in "High Plains Drifter" was NOT a ghost? Seems I read that a few years ago..and it made me laugh because when the film came out he made quite a big deal out of his movie being a sort of "unique" Horror/Western!"

Response 3:

"When Clin't character leaves town he stops at the cemetery the dwarf asks his name. The character says, "You know my name." The camera then looks at the grave marker that the dwarf was engraving and it's the dead sheriff. Duh!!

Come on Clint, even the music has a supernatural sound to it and the heat waves on the dry lake make it look as if the avenger appears from nowhere. This is also used in PALE RIDER when the avenging angel comes down from the mountains.
Just admit that it was taken from the same source as DJANGO THE BASTARD even if you weren't aware of it at the time HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER was made."


I'll post more responses if/when they come in.
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Matt
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« Reply #21 on: April 05, 2003, 11:48:42 PM »


Does anybody else recall Eastwood (in an interview from about five or six years ago) trying to claim that his character in "High Plains Drifter" was NOT a ghost?

If you go to the "Films of Clint Eastwood" on the main page of this site, select High Plains Drifter and listen to the short interview on Real Player, you can hear it for yourself.  I tried to take it down, but I may have one or two words wrong... Clint mumbled a little.  

Quote
It was originally written that he was the brother of the marshall 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 his great time of need.  This town has already done that.  And the sheriff was 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 lay it out simply that it's some relative coming back is really not very interesting.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2003, 11:49:36 PM by Matt » Logged
KC
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« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2003, 12:30:51 AM »

I posted a question on the "Spaghetti Western" bulletin board asking if anyone has seen "Django The Bastard" and if they can confirm or deny that it was the inspiration for "High Plains Drifter" or if "HPD" was a remake. ...

Response 2:

" ... Does anybody else recall Eastwood (in an interview from about five or six years ago) trying to claim that his character in "High Plains Drifter" was NOT a ghost? Seems I read that a few years ago..and it made me laugh because when the film came out he made quite a big deal out of his movie being a sort of "unique" Horror/Western!"


Actually, Eastwood has been very consistent in his descriptions of the nature of this film going back to shortly after it was originally released in 1973. This is from a 1976 interview that appeared in Film Comment:


Quote
[Interviewer:] High Plains reminds me of Japanese ghost-story films, particularly the way you leave the door open for that reading at the end, when the hero rides out of town and the midget sidekick asks him who he is. Did you ever make a decision in your own mind as to who he was?

[Eastwood:] Yeah, to me he was the brother. But I presented him … [trails off, pauses]. The way the whole town was, no children, kind of strange: it’s a weird situation. As far as me justifying the role, he was the brother. But as far as the audience is concerned, if they want to draw him as something a little more than that, that’s fine.
(Interview by Richard Thompson and Tim Hunter, published as “Clint Eastwood, Auteur” in Film Comment 14, no. 1 (January/February 1978); reprinted in Clint Eastwood: Interviews, p. 50-51)

Is anyone familiar with the Japanese ghost story films Thompson/Hunter refer to, and is it possible, just possible, that such films were the source of BOTH Django the Bastard and High Plains Drifter?  ???

Does anyone know if Ernest Tidyman, the screenwriter, was ever interviewed about this script?
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EwFan62
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« Reply #23 on: April 06, 2003, 05:46:55 AM »

Matt, thanks for posting the text of that audio clip. I've listened to it before and pretty much understood that to be what Clint says but yes, he did mumble a little so certain parts were a bit difficult to hear. :)

KC, thanks for that info too. Funny that you mentioned that Japanese film because I received another response to my question on the "SW" board and here it is:

Response 4:

"An interview Clint gave in (I think) "Sight and Sound" where he directly named the samurai film it was based on, where the ghost of a killed warrior gets his revenge for the town doing him in. Some of these guys will be able to rattle off the flick in a heartbeat for you and even be able to give you rental info. As for "DTB", I see a lot between the two. Some of the shots are quite the same as well as some of the lighting at night when they are hunting for the guys. I love both flicks, and figure there is room enough for both, especially since the styles wind up being very different despite the similarities (and the fondness for using dynamite to settle problems)."
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« Reply #24 on: April 06, 2003, 07:18:53 AM »

Here is another response from the SW bulletin board as the question seems to be generating a decent amount of discussion.

Response 5:

"Could be that both films are based on the samurai film. Question remains did Clint base it on the samurai film or did he or others connected with the film(HPD) see DJANGO THE BASTARD and take it from that film."
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« Reply #25 on: April 14, 2003, 12:23:25 PM »

Well, having just seen "Django The Bastard", I can clearly see why comparisons between it and "High Plains Drifter" have been made.

First off, the film itself is a terrific, gothic SW with some genuinely eeire and creepy moments. The direction by Sergio Garrone is excellent with inventive and unique camera angles. He really conjurs up a terrific atmosphere. The score is pretty good also.

Now, is or could "High Plains Drifter" be a remake of "DTB"? I would say NO. There are very similar themes and situations but to me, "HPD" is a different film.

Was "DTB" the inspiration for "HPD"? Clearly the answer to this one is YES! There are too many "minor" similarities between the two to be able to say otherwise. The lead characters are just too similar and certain scenes from "HPD" appear to be lifted at some level, from "DTB". Now, I don't know if Eastwood himself saw the film or somebody else in his circle did, but IMHO this was a definite inspiration for "HPD". It seemed Eastwood took the central theme, put his own twist on it and made it his own. :)

If your a fan of "HPD", I'd definitely recommend picking up "The Strangers Gundown".
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« Reply #26 on: April 16, 2003, 10:51:30 AM »

Hi Sheepy! :)

I'd be interested in seeing a much fuller list of your similarities.  If it wouldn't be too much trouble.

Do we have any evidence the writers or Eastwood ever saw DTB?

Isn't a similarity in character going to be partly expected due to Clint's Stranger being the archetypal SW character in the first place?

Forgive my scepticism - these thing do genuinely interest me. :D
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« Reply #27 on: April 16, 2003, 11:59:24 AM »


Do we have any evidence the writers or Eastwood ever saw DTB?

Isn't a similarity in character going to be partly expected due to Clint's Stranger being the character in the first place?


I have absolutely NO evidence Eastwood or anyone in his circle ever saw "DTB". Never claimed they did which is why I posted the question here and on other boards wondering if Clint ever mentioned seeing the film before "HPD" was made. It is my own personal opinion that after seeing "DTB" that someone associated with the Eastwood circle had to have at least seen or heard of the Garrone film. Again, that is just an opinion and no hard fact. It just seems to be more then a coincidence that nearly everything written about "DTB" that I have read cites the film as at least "laying the ground work" for "HPD" including Christopher Frayling in his groundbreaking SW book. As mentioned earlier, the wonderful online zine, IMAGES JOURNAL goes so far as to call "HPD" a remake.

Your certainly correct that there is nothing original about the "mysterious stranger" riding in to save the day being an archetypal SW character or even Hollywood chracter but here, we have something much more than that. Here we have a "stranger" who's presence is of the supernatural variety. We have a "stranger" who demands the question "is he, or isn't he?" In both films we are confronted with trying to figure out if this "stranger" is mortal or not and that is what is unusual and different then just the average guy riding into town to save the day. These types of "supernatural" or "gothic" westerns are very rare compared to the straight-up "hero saves the day" one's. You can probably count those types of "gothic" westerns on one or two hands and by most indications, "DTB" was the first to chart those waters.

Please don't get me wrong here, I'm not accusing Eastwood of stealing an idea or not being original or anything resembling that. There is nothing wrong with using a certain "theme" that has been used before and putting your own twist on it. My only interest in the topic was just a general wondering if that might be the case and if so, what Eastwood thought of the Garrone film. "HPD" is a terrific film and though it seemes to have a "relation" to "DTB", Eastwood's film is clearly his own. I don't believe it is a remake at all. This topic has even been discussed on a message board as diverse as Scarlet Street and again, the "HPD" and "DTB" similarities are talked about there also. I just think it's a very interesting topic. :)
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