director Clint Eastwood
High Plains Drifter has a serious problem with women. This struck me years ago when I first saw it and was less familiar with Clint Eastwood’s oeuvre and the Western in general. Having the “hero” blow into town and rape a woman, apparently for her pleasure, was distasteful to me 20 years ago and has not improved with age. She then becomes the butt of a joke when she tries to shoot him, saying she was probably mad he didn’t “come back for more.”
Seriously, the sexual politics of High Plains Drifter are abject, objectionable, and highly problematic, especially as in other ways is perhaps Eastwood’s best directorial picture.
Shot near Mono Lake, it’s Eastwood’s first Western as director, only his second film as director. And whether he’s paying homages to Sergio Leone or Don Siegel, this semi-supernatural revenge film has a pitch-dark heart and ripe visual poetry.
The more that I’ve considered it, I find the misogyny too much to get over.
I did find it interesting that Ernest Tidyman’s inspiration for the story rose from the Kitty Genovese crime.