"The Gold Rush in nineteenth-century California attracted all types of people seeking their fortunes. Some would settle in small mining encampments where each had their claims to search for the precious ore, but greed could encourage some to try and drive people away from their claims. Such was the setting for the 1985 film "Pale Rider", which was directed by Clint Eastwood. Located a few miles from a small town, a mining encampment includes the hard-working Hull Barrett (Michael Moriarty), a woman that he's been living with named Sarah Wheeler (Carrie Snodgrass) and her teenaged daughter Megan Wheeler (Sydney Penny). Frustrated with rising bills at the nearby country store and a greedy & wealthy man named Coy LaHood (Richard A. Dysart) who is trying to drive away the miners, Hull and Sarah's relationship is somewhat strained. After Megan prays for assistance and is reading a verse in the Book of Revelation that states "And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death" (Rev. 6:8), she sees a man riding a pale horse approaching. The rider comes to be known only as "The Preacher" (Clint Eastwood) and after helping Hull out of a skirmish with some of LaHood's men, Hull invites the Preacher to stay with him, Sarah and Megan. It isn't before long that the Preacher begins to give the miners at Hull's encampment courage to stand up to LaHood and to work together. LaHood, of course, is furious that a preacher is helping them because he wants their land so that he can use his very destructive hydraulic mining technology to strip the land of whatever gold may be there. When LaHood can't buy the Preacher out of the encampment, he resorts to hiring a "marshal" of sorts named Stockburn (John Russell, 1921-1991) and his "deputies" to get rid of the Preacher. LaHood, however, doesn't know what the Preacher is capable of doing.
With excellent cinematography, interesting characters, an engaging story and good acting, "Pale Rider" is an excellent film. Other memorable characters include LaHood's son Josh (Chris Penn), Club (Richard Kiel, who is better known for his portrayal of the character "Jaws" from the James Bond films "The Spy Who Loved Me" & "Moonraker" in 1977 & 1979 respectively), McGill (Charles Hallahan), Ma Blankenship (Fran Ryan, 1916-2000) and Jed Blankenship (Richard Hamilton, 1920-2004). Memorable scenes include the Preacher's arrival, the boulder, visiting LaHood's hydraulic mine, the arrival of Stockburn and the final scenes. Overall, I rate "Pale Rider" with 5 stars."
James Ferguson | Vilnius, Lithuania | 04/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great 3-pack. I always thought that Pale Rider was his best personal effort, but he got the Oscar for The Unforgiven. Now you can compare the two, and you have The Outlaw Josey Wales to boot. Eastwood built a Western filmography almost as great as the legend himself, John Wayne. Eastwood always looked good in the saddle and his preternatural scowl fit the High Plains well, whether in early Italian/Spanish productions with Sergio Leone, or his later personal westerns. He covers much of the same material, but his delivery gets ever better. The Unforgiven has a deconstructionist feel to it with memorable performances by Gene Hackman and Richard Harris. It was probably the most daring of his western movies, but Pale Rider has the greatest visual appeal, set in the rugged backdrop of Montana, it exudes the romance of the Old West, like A.B. Guthrie's Big Sky novels. The Outlaw Josey Wales makes a good bridge between his early "spaghetti" westerns to his later big screen performances."
Great Films, Disappointing Box
neoninfusion | Sydney, NSW Australia | 05/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you're interested in this boxed set, then you probably are already familiar with the movies. Apart from Clint Eastwood's 'spaghetti westerns', the films in this package are amongst his best westerns. Made in three different decades, each film represents Clint Eastwood as the star and director in three different eras.
'The Outlaw Josey Wales' (1976) was Eastwood's last 70's western. In the film, Josey Wales makes his way west after the Civil War, determined to live a useful and helpful life. He joins up with a group of settlers who need the protection that a man as tough and experienced as he is can provide. Unfortunately, Josey is a wanted man and his past catches up with him.
'Pale Rider' (1985) was filmed after a 9 year western-hiatus and was his only 80's western. Here, a gold mining camp in the California foothills is besieged by a neighboring landowner intent on stealing their claims. A preacher (Eastwood) rides into camp and uses all of his powers of persuasion to convince the landowner to give up his attacks on the miners.
'Unforgiven' won critical acclaim in 1992 with four Oscars including best picture and his first best-directing gong. Eastwood stars as a retired, once-ruthless killer-turned-gentle-widower and hog farmer. He accepts one last bounty-hunter mission--to find the men who brutalized a prostitute--to help support his two motherless children. Joined by his former partner (Morgan Freeman) and a greenhorn (Jaimz Woolvett), he takes on a corrupt sheriff (Oscar winner Gene Hackman) in a showdown that makes the viewer feel the full impact of violence and its corruption of the soul.
The only drawback to this product is the package itself. Although the DVD's come in a box, they are not contained in the typical plastic DVD case with the original stand-alone DVD sleave. Instead, the original stand-alone sleave is printed on a cheaper cardboard DVD case which clips into a plastic backing. I was disappointed to receive this, so I'm just letting you know."
Clint Eastwood Creates a Resurrected and Sexualized Version
James Koenig | Minnesota | 08/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In "Pale Rider", Clint Eastwood has taken the classic 1953 Alan Ladd movie "Shane" and turned it into a "modern" sexualized version. There is no mistaking the sexual tension in this film. Clint plays the mysterious "Preacher" (a character the antithesis of sex,), who comes to a mining settlement to rescue persecuted settlers who are a target for a larger mining interest. Eastwood's "Preacher" creates sexual tension with both female leads, the widow Carrie Snodgrass and her duaghter Megan, played by the beautiful Sydney Penny (the memorable "Meggie" in "The Thorn Birds"). Due to previous trauma, the widow has a dead love life and her interest in a new love is reborn with the arrival of Eastwood. Megan, a precocious child of 14 is ready to give her young love to the answer to her prayers, the Preacher.
"Pale Rider" is Eastwood's first western since "The Outlaw Josie Wales", 9 years earlier. In the mid-1980's, the western genre was considered "dead" in Hollywood with little public interest, but the success of this movie resurrected the western, and led to several more movies and made-for TV movies with old west themes (Silverado). Eastwood would make one more western, "Unforgiven" (1993), which Hollywood critics would heap praise on and award with several Academy Awards.
Eastwood resurrects another character in this movie, that of the mysterious stranger in "High Plains Drifter", who comes out of the past to exact revenge on a town that abandoned him when he was sherrif. His "Preacher" in "High Plains Drifter", has a clouded past as well, and throughout the film, there are hints given that the Preacher is perhaps a man back from the dead to repay past atrocities.
The showdown in town between Eastwood and the evil gang of killers is renimicient of the final scene in "Shane", where Alan Ladd goes to town to face down the evil Mr. Wilson and his gang of gunmen. Eastwood's Preacher faces down his former tormenters one by one until he finally faces the man who he once met in his dark past, the man who once put 6 shots in tight pattern in his back. As th film ends, Megan also appears much like "Little Joe" did in "Shane", but not to beg him to come back, but to tell him thank you and say her last loving goodbye. The Preacher, his past atoned, rides off into the cold snowy mountains, his job finished.
It is a very entertaining movie, but one that is not fit for the entire family. Younger children should not be allowed to view the close up shooting scenes where good and bad alike are shot through the forehead and other places. The gruesome violence is not toned down, typical Eastwood film technique. I'd recommend that children under 12 not be allowed to see the film due to the violence. Adults and western film fans will find the movie entertaining.
"Pale Rider" does not match "Shane" in terms of its classic movie status. "Shane" is a much better movie, but "Pale Rider" is still one of Eastwood's better received films, receiving warm praise from critics and fans alike.
For the Eastwood film fan, you will want to have this one for your collection.
Pale Rider, BluRay
G. Grant | Nashville, TN | 07/28/2009
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Very, very poor HD transfer - save your money and make warner Brothers do this one right. The new BluRay release has poor picture quality. Buying this one for $10 does not justify a poor transfer. The 20 - 25% of this film that takes place in a brighter sky does look very nice. But a dominant amount of the film reveals poor black levels, look at the far right side of your screen - throughout the film. Even visible to some degree in the brighter scenes. The story is a classic, but hang on to your DVD for a while longer. Shame on you Warner Brothers!"