HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER question: What was the Stranger? (And other Eastwood western topics.)

Someone with good taste in movies but an exaggerated sense of my intelligence asked me today if the Stranger in High Plains Drifter was supposed to be the ghost of Marshal Duncan. My reply was, “I dunno, I haven’t seen that movie since 1982, and anyway Pale Rider is about seventeen times better.” But I thought it would make a decent intro to a thread about Clint Eastwood and his movies, in particular his Westerns.


I haven’t seen High Plains Drifter in about fifteen years, but I seem to recall thinking that the Stranger was the ghost of Marshall’s ghost.

Yes, he was the ghost of the marshal. It’s pretty clear in the end when he disappears.

ETA - I love this movie, it is one of my top 5 favorite Clint Eastwood flicks.

I believe, based on his behavior, that he was what the Navajo referred to as a chindi rather than a ghost as the term is commonly used today.

It’s also very clear when he rides past the dwarf on the way out of town.

High Plains Drifter is good. Pale Rider is better. Unforgiven is better still. The Outlaw Josey Wales is the best.

What in the name of Athena daughter of Metis daughter of Tethys daughter of Gaea the never-born is a chindi? I’d look it up on Wikipedia but I don’t remember the URL.

As everyone know, Unforgiven is not only the best movie ever made, but the best movie that can logically exist. Therefore your final sentence is ridiculous.

The man who made it doesn’t think so. :stuck_out_tongue:


I just saw the ending of High Plains Drifter the other day. In the last scene, the Stranger is riding out of town past the Dwarf. The Dwarf says he never caught the Stranger’s name. The Stranger replies, “You know my name” and then the camera pans to show the grave marker that the Dwarf is working on. It reads. “Marshall Duncan”. Then the Stranger disappears into the heat haze.

Seems pretty clear to me.

Google it, fool of a Graeco-Roman. Coyote, Flute Player, Thunder Bird and the various and sundry other powers of this hemisphere are pissing down their legs laughing at you just now.

#6 Today, 02:55 PM
Skald the Rhymer
Member Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 20,537
Originally Posted by silenus
The Outlaw Josey Wales is the best. "

Skald the Rhymer: As everyone know, Unforgiven is not only the best movie ever made, but the best movie that can logically exist. Therefore your final sentence is ridiculous.

Everyone does not actually agree with you. The IMDB rates “Unforgiven” at number 97 all-time and the fourth best Western, in both cases behind “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.”

My own favorite is “A Perfect World.”

Your opinion is noted but I’m afraid Skald is correct.
Does your choice also contain Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman and Richard Harris? No sir, it does not. Your thesis holds no water. How can a film lacking three of the four elemental forces ever be considered the greater work?

In all seriousness though, It is my favourite. If ever I flip the channel and it is on, I* have *to watch.

You must be new.* If you search “Skald the Rhymer” and “best movie that can logically exist exist,” you’ll find that I’ve made similar ridiculous assertions about at least fifty thousand other movies. :wink: Besides, if 100 people say one thing and a Rhymer says another, then the odds are 100 to 1 that the Rhymer is correct. Why? Because we always carry shotguns, that’s why.

*I am perfectly aware that you’re not.

You are very wise.

Unforgiven is the best Eastwood movie I have seen, and one of the best westerns, hands down. Josey Wales has some excellent lines and some great scenes, but is let down by some second rate acting from Sondra Locke, Dean Wormer and the bad guy. But it is Chief Dan George’s best role. Only an Indian can sneak up on you like that.

That bad guy was the same bad guy from Deliverance…a role he seemingly enjoyed waayyy to much if some of the stuff on IMDB is true.

The Beguiled is one of Eastwoods most underrated films and takes place in a school for girls during the Civil War…and has an amazing performance from Geraldine Page and Elizabeth Hartman.

Josey Wales and the Good the bad and the ugly are the most epic, and therefore the best IMO.

GtBatU is more iconic (epically iconic :slight_smile: ), but prefer Josey Wales. Not even Sondra Locke can dent its quality.

I knew there was a reason I liked you

I gave up on Unfiorgiven when he left the kids.

Nowhere near Shane or The Searchers or Lonesome Dove.

And yes, it’s Duncan’s ghost.

Carrying it a step further, he may be Marshall Duncan’s daemon rather than his ghost. If he were Duncan’s ghost (or even chindi), you would think someone would recognize him, or at least get some clue as to his essence. His behavior is more typical of an avenging daemon posthumously seeking justice for Duncan’s death than a more ephemeral chindi.

I agree that the chindi interpretation is more in keeping with the film’s metaethics, but the daemon interpretation is closer to the mythic metaphysics of Sergio Leone that Eastwood seems to be emulating here. YMMV, I guess.

There’s also the point to be made where Eastwood/Duncan had the folks paint the entire town red, and he himself painted the word “hell” on the “Welcome to Lagos” sign.

He’s also back lit by flames at one point.

Duncan’s ghost/whatever.
Am I the only one that thinks Unforgiven
is overrated?