Comfortable and Furious

High Plains Drifter

At Ruthless Reviews, the very word “Ruthless” has taken on a new meaning. Here, Ruthless means debauched, subversive, cantankerous and unrepentant… the local meaning of Ruthless is actually a bit ambiguous and open ended. For instance, while Ben Kingsley is motherfucking Ruthless, Stone Cold Steve Austin is most definitely not. King Diamond? Ruthless. Sean “Puffy” Combs? Dork. You can, nonetheless, achieve a full understanding of Ruthlessness by watching Clint Eastwood’s fine film. High Plains Drifter.

Eastwood’s character perpetrates a long list of misdeeds after riding into town. Within the first ten minutes, he kills four men, rapes a woman in front of the whole town, robs, and abuses power. Good stuff. But what makes the film truly Ruthless is the Nietzschean assault on false morality and worthless people. For instance, after Eastwood forces the townsfolk to paint the entire town red, he then renames the town, “Hell.” When the preacher says, “surely you don’t mean the church,” Eastwood replies, “especially the church.” That is Ruthless.


So, there are really two levels to this film and both are way, way Ruthless. One level is the unapologetic male fantasy of being the biggest orangutan ever known to the jungle. You tell men what to do and they do it out of a mix of awe and fear. You want something you take it. You want a woman, you rape her, and she likes it, only becoming angry when you “don’t go back for more.” In this film, Eastwood has absolute power and indulges in it remorselessly. All the way Ruthless.

The second level is the explosion of hypocrisy and weakness. The fact that Eastwood is taking revenge on the townspeople creates a story line set in traditional morality. I would argue, however, that Eastwood is not taking an eye for an eye, so much as he has seen through and broken free of the God-fearing, bullshit morality of the townspeople. Eastwood is at least halfway to becoming an Übermensch, dishing out retribution as well as compassion, mercy and justice as he sees fit, but never as prescribed. Again, I see Nietzsche in this film because of the assault on failed, traditional values. Eastwood mocks the church as described above and also law and order. He strips the mayor and sheriff of their power and appoints the town dwarf to both offices. Eastwood doesn’t just destroy the town, he obliterates everything the town stands for and believes in. Ruthless

Special Ruthless Ratings:

  • Film Overall: 9
  • Number of beers needed to make it a “10:” 4
  • Number of times you actually became giddy: 4
  • Are you endorsing rape and murder? Don’t be stupid, of course I am.
  • Number of times the movie was paused to do something else: 0
  • Number of sequels to this film: 0
  • Number you would like to see: 75,000
  • What would some of those sequels be called? Crawford Ranch Drifter, 700 Club Drifter, California State Legislature Drifter, Jerry Bruckheimer’s House Drifter, High Plains, but in a Country Ruled by Islamists Drifter, Viking’s Training Camp Drifter, RIAA Meeting Drifter and Raunchy Ranch VII.
  • Isn’t it weird how right-wingers like Coulter embrace Matt Drudge even though he’s an obvious homosexual? Funny you should ask. I was just thinking the same thing.
  • Number of times the oppressive soundtrack made you reach for your knife: 0
  • Number of times you wished you were watching a Carrot Top movie: 0






4 responses to “High Plains Drifter”

  1. John Welsh Avatar
    John Welsh

    I saw that movie upon its release and have yet to venture into the High Plains again for the simple reason I did not understand it. I doubt a another viewing will help. I place it next to Eastwood’s second-rate remake of Shane, Pale Rider. Some insight may be derived from the knowledge that it was written by the man who gave the world John Shaft ( who is little when compared to Coffin Ed Johnson & Grave Digger Jones.)
    Serpico was out the same year and that I understood that just fine.

    1. Goat Avatar

      John, you’ve got to be kidding? How can you NOT understand after reading this review?

      1. John (Quick-Draw McGraw aka ‎El Kabong!) Welsh Avatar

        Oh, I understood what happened alright, Baba Looey, just not why or who he was, unless he was supposed to be a tame, white-eyes version of a Windigo spirit. Spook westerns are beyond my scope of practice.

        1. Goat Avatar

          They never say for sure, but he was either some random spirit, the ghost of former marshall Jim Duncan, or the marshall’s twin brother, coming back for revenge.

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