This time in the Shootout At High Noon Marathon I have words for Edgar!
For a better understanding of what I am about to write, make sure you go and read what Edgar had to say about Pale Rider at Between The Seats.
No moseying about this time around, I’m gonna cut right to the chase because that’s what I do. I honestly don’t see your opening salvo against Clint Eastwood. I see differences in all the characters he plays, and in a few instances, like Gran Torino, I don’t think he’s playing an ultimate bad ass, rather he’s playing up that his character is old and more world weary than those around him. Look at Unforgiven for an even better example, in that movie his character is played as being extremely lucky. Bill Munny doesn’t come out on top because he’s skilled, he comes out on top because he is lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Unlike you, I see variance in the roles Mr. Eastwood plays whilst he is directing himself. I don’t see a lack of originality and I don’t see the same old-same old. In Pale Rider I don’t think your charges can be levied against him because he isn’t playing a man, he’s playing an idea. The Preacher is original because he’s a force of nature, a changing of the times, he isn’t like other characters Mr. Eastwood has played because he shows a lack of human small mindedness within his actions.
Again, when it comes to your second point, the dialogue, I simply disagree. The films of Mr. Eastwood have never been, and never will be, known for their flashy dialogue. His characters say simple things and they almost always speak in a very simplistic manner. You might say that Mr. Eastwood is drawn to scripts where the characters say what is on their minds with very little flowery prose in place to circle around what they actually want to say. The two examples you give, the daughters rejection of the Preacher and the mother explaining her feelings to the Preacher, were two of the moments that really hooked me into the bigger picture of the film. Those were moments where the characters were speaking plainly, they showed that they had something to live for, they had a life once the West was gone, but the Preacher had nothing to offer them because he did not.
You make the argument that the sheriff brought into to deal with the Preacher is not given enough screen time, I also did not find that to be the case. For what the sheriff represented and for what his role in the story was I thought he was on screen the right amount of time. He made a mighty impression in the time he was on screen, but if the sheriff were around longer I can’t help but feel the character would have been diluted somehow. Consider it the Darth Maul effect, a lot of people loved that character and cried out for more of him, but in reality there isn’t more to him than what he delivered on screen. I don’t think the sheriff is at that level, but I do believe that he gets the right amount of screen time and any more would have been unnecessary.
You found Pale Rider to be quite predictable and to lack impact. Not to sound like a broken record, but I disagree with you on those points as well. I did find Pale Rider to drag a little and there were a few moments where it was too on the nose. However, I can see myself returning to Pale Rider sooner rather than later. I like what Mr. Eastwood had to offer in Pale Rider, I want to amble up to the bar, plop down in a stool and share some more time with the Preacher. I can see Pale Rider improving more for me with future viewings, I’m sorry you didn’t take the same away from the film, but, you did enjoy it, even with the flaws you found, so it’s not like it was a bad movie watching experience for you. In the battle for the West it comes down to two men, a normal looking dude and a dude with an epic beard, and between these two hombres I don’t think the result is in question, the beard always wins.
Read what Edgar had to say in his rebuttal at Between The Seats.