Clint Eastwood directs and stars in this eerie western as a mysterious gunslinger hired to protect a remote frontier town from a trio of outlaws. But the god-fearing citizens get more than they bargained when the stranger installs himself as the town's new boss and ominously renames the place 'Hell'. Stoked with revenge and Faustian intrigue, the tale smoulders like a cigar from the Devil's own private stash.
Clint Eastwood's second outing as a director and star is a leisurely Western revenge story. As in the Sergio Leone 'Dollars' trilogy, Eastwood is an unidentified stranger who rides menacingly into a frontier town and exerts a God-like power over it, having been hired by its citizens to protect them against vengeful outlaws.
Orchestrating plots and counter-plots, the stranger deals ruthlessly with the town's corrupt hierarchy and provides the story with an eerie, surrealistic climax.
Alongside Eastwood's characteristically laconic performance, midget actor Billy Curtis is a great foil as Mordecai Fortune.
Moody, self-conscious and offbeat, High Plains Drifter is more than anything an exercise in style that sees Eastwood's direction in imitative form before emerging in its own distinctive fashion with the masterly The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Nevertheless it makes for vivid viewing.