Clint Eastwood appeared in two classic 1950's science fiction-horror movies from Universal Studios.
That first feature was also Eastwood's first motion picture and the first sequel to 1954's "The Creature from the Black Lagoon". That title was "Revenge of the Creature" and like the original it was also released in 3-D on March 23, 1955. This motion picture had the distinction of being the last film released during the "Golden Age of Three Dimension Films" between 1952 and 1955. For readers interested in this period my article, partly in 3-D, can be read at:
The star was John Agar as "Professor Clete Ferguson". In what would be the beginning of his motion picture come back and cult 1950's science fiction and horror status. Agar's first motion picture had been director John Ford's 1948 "Fort Apache". His co-star was "America's Sweetheart" Shirley Temple and the two would become a "Hollywood Fairy Tale Marriage". That ended in a very public divorce over Agar's infidelity and the actor being "Black Listed" by the major studios. My article on John Agar's up and down career may be read at:
Agar's co-star was actress Lori Nelson in her 11th motion picture. These included 1952's "Francis Goes to West Point". The third installment of Universal Pictures "Francis the Talking Mule" series. The very good 1954 "Destry". The remake of James Stewart's 1939 "Destry Rides Again" with Audie Murphy in the Stewart role. Later in 1955 Lori Nelson would co-star in Roger Corman's "The Day the World Ended". Starting in 1957 she would basically be seen as a "guest star" on television programs.
Above on the left is 1st billed John Agar, non on screen credited Ricou Browning as "The Creature", and 2nd billed Lori Nelson.
Above 4th billed Nester Paiva, on the far right, talks to 3rd billed John Bromfield as "Joe Hayes" and on the far left 7th billed Robert B. Williams as "George Johnson".
Bromfield would star in two back to back television shows. "The Sheriff of Cochise" and the renamed "U.S. Marshal" from 1956 through 1960 for a total of 156 episodes. Paiva was again "Lucas" the boat captain in "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and had returned in that role for the opening sequence of the "Revenge of the Creature".Character actor Williams appeared in many genres since 1936. These included 1944's "Cry of the Werewolf", 1946's "The Bandit of Sherwood Forest", 1956's "The Killing", 1959's "The Bat" and Clint Eastwood's 1968 "Hang 'Em High".
In all the motion picture had eight billed actors and 22 non on screen credited actors. Among those other 22 was Clint Eastwood.
The total time of this sequence might be 5 minutes out of the 82 minute features total running time. Clint Eastwood was the comic relief as John Agar's lab assistant. Who looses a test mouse and then discovers it in the pocket of his lab coat.
Lori Nelson had been in the third "Francis the Mule" motion picture with Donald O'Connor. Now, for his second motion picture, Clint Eastwood was in the fifth installment "Francis in the Navy". The film was released August 25, 1955 and had Eastwood's first screen credited role as "Jonesy". He's third from the right in the following lobby card.
Eastwood's third motion picture, released December 28, 1955, starred Maureen O'Hara as "Lady Godiva of Conventry".
Above on the far right is Clint back in the non screen credited role of "Alfred of Fletcher". Which takes us to his second monster movie. Also without on screen credit.
John Agar was back as "Dr. Matt Hastings" in 'TARANTULA!". He's on the left of the above lobby card.
Mara Corday, born Marilyn Watts in Santa Monica, California, is on the right. In 1957 Corday would co-star in both "The Giant Claw" and "The Black Scorpion". Mara would be back with Clint Eastwood as a "Jail Matron" in 1977's "The Gauntlet" and a "Coffee Shop Waitress" in 1982's "Sudden Impact". In "Tarantula!" she portrayed "Stephanie Clayton".
Between the two is Leo G. Carroll as "Professor Gerald Deemer". This role would immortalize the actor in the lyrics of Richard O'Brien:
I knew Leo G. Carroll was over a barrel. When Tarantula took to the hills.From the score of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show".
From 1953 through 1955 Leo G. Carroll had been "Topper" on television and from 1964 through 1968 he was "Alexander Waverly" on both "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.".
Above Carroll's experiments are creating the title character.
Third from the left is Nester Paiva as "Sheriff Jack Andrews". I met Paiva a few times when he came to pickup his daughter Cae from our High School. He was a very nice gentleman.
So where does Clint Eastwood come in? His role was that of the "Jet Squadron Leader". He leads the attack with napalm rockets and kills the title character at he films conclusion.
Two other Universal science fiction films used the above town set. They are 1953's "It Came from Outer Space" and 1957's "The Monolith Monsters".
The following two motion pictures have a more complex personality for Clint Eastwood.
"High Plains Drifter" was first released on April 6, 1973. I saw it with my father in Santa Monica at the Criterion Theater on 3rd Street. I consider it one of my all time favorite Clint Eastwood features. My "Numeral Uno" is the next picture I will speak too.
A little background is necessary here.
The original screenplay was by Ernest Tidyman. Tidyman had written the gritty 1971 "French Connection" and the same years original "Shaft". It is known that a non screen credited rewrite of the screenplay was done by Dean Riesner. Riesener had worked with Eastwood on 1968's "Coogan's Bluff", the psychological 1971 "Play Misty for Me" and that same years "Dirty Harry". Dean Riesner had also written five episodes of the television series "Rawhide".
Ernest Tidyman based his original screenplay's premise upon the March 13, 1964 murder of 28 year old Kitty Genovese in New Gardens, Queens, a borough of New York City. She had been attacked stabbed to death outside of an apartment building located directly across the street from her own building.
Six days after Kitty's murder 29 year old Winston Moseley was arrested during a house burglary.
Moseley would confess to the murder of Kitty Genovese. Her tragic death would have gone unnoticed by most of New York State. Let alone the rest of the country. Except for one important fact brought to life in a "New York Times" article.
It was revealed that at least 38 people had either witnessed the actual murder, or at the least heard something at the time of the crime. NOT ONE OF THESE 38 PEOPLE CALLED THE POLICE DEPARTMENT.
Winston Moseley was given the death sentence, but it was commuted to life in prison. He died at the age of 81 52 years later.
Two things resulted from this crime other than the obvious. The first were inquiries into other such incidents of what was originally being called "The Bystander Effect", but later became known to psychologists as "Genovese Syndrome". The second was the creation, decades later, of the "911 Caller System" to give witnesses anonymity, if they so desired to report a crime.
The Main Cast:
"THE STRANGER" was portrayed by the motion pictures director Clint Eastwood. Just prior to this film Eastwood was 1972's "Joe Kidd" and would follow the feature in a cameo as "The Man at the Marina" in 1973's "Breezy" an overlooked picture Clint Eastwood directed starring William Holden and Kay Lenz.
Verna Bloom portrayed "Sarah Belding". In 1968 she was the co-star in cinematographer and director Haskell Wexler's "Medium Cool". Wexler planned to us Chicago as the backdrop for his story of a television reporter, because the Democratic Convention was taking place there. Unexpectedly reality took hold and Haskell Wexler ended up documenting, within his feature, the "Chicago Democratic Convention's Riots" the shocked the United States. Bloom co-starred with Peter Fonda in 1971's "The Hired Hand", would be seen in 1978's "National Lampoon's Animal House", Eastwood's 1982 ":Honkytonk Man" and was Jesus' mother "Mary" in 1988's controversial "The Last Temptation of Christ".
Mariana Hill was "Callie Travers". Hill was a television actress. Her small movie career included director Howard Hawks' 1965 "Red Line 7000", Wexler's "Medium Cool" and the Jim Brown and Lee Van Cleef 1970 "El Condor".
Billy Curtis portrayed "Mordecai". Curtis' 113 motion picture and television roles include the 1938 Western "Terror of Tiny Town", 1939's "Wizard of Oz", Abbott and Costello's 1947 "Buck Privates Come Home", Ivan Tors science fiction "GOG" as both robots "Gog" and "Magog", 1957's "The Incredible Shrinking Man", 1959's "Angry Red Planet" as the Martian and 1968's "Planet of the Apes".
Mitchell Ryan was "Dave Drake". Ryan's first role was in Robert Mitchum's 1958 classic "Thunder Road", Most of his work was in television and that included several made for television motion pictures.
Jack Ging was "Morgan Allen". "High Plains Drifter" was the last of Ging's four motion pictures as he was also a primary television actor.
Above Jack Ging on the left and Mitchell Ryan on the right. Between them is Ted Hartley as "Lewis Belding".Two of Hartley's work included director John Sturges 1968 "Ice Station Zebra" and 2009's "Race to Witch Mountain".
The opening titles has Clint Eastwood's "The Stranger" riding out of a mirage. The closing scene has Eastwood riding back into the mirage.
The stranger rides into the isolated mining town of "Lago" in an unnamed territory.
Three men start following him first into the saloon and then the barbershop.
Above the three men left to right are Jim Gosa as "Tommy Morris", Russ McCubbin as "Fred Short" and Scott Walker as "Billy Borders". The three make the mistake of threatening "The Stranger" and he kills all three without any effort on his part.
This creates an immediate problem for the town's people. As those three outlaws were hired to kill three others heading for town. So now what will they do? Meanwhile, the "Catty" "Callie Travers" deliberately bumps herself into "The Stranger". Instead of getting her expected result he grabs her and drags "Callie" into the livery stable and rapes the women.
Calmly he goes to the one hotel and rents a room from "Lewis Belding". That night he has a dream about a man being bull whipped to death.
The following day "Sheriff Sam Shaw", Walter Barnes, approaches "The Stranger" and offers him the same job of killing the outlaws heading to town. The three are "Stacey Bridges", Geoffrey Lewis, "Dan Carlin", Dan Vadis and "Cole James", Anthony James.
Above left to right James, Lewis and Vadis.
Initially "The Stranger" declines the offer, but when the "Sheriff" and "Mayor Jason Hobart", Stefan Gierasch, offer him anything he wants in the town, no questions, to do the job. He agrees and starts by appointing the barber's assistant "Mordecai" as both Sheriff and Mayor. "The Stranger" than walks from one location to the next in "Lago". At the general store he takes the finest saddle and clothing. At the livery stable he takes the best horse. As this is happening "Callie" complains about being raped by "The Stranger". She is told to keep quiet as the town now needs him.
The "The Stranger" starts teaching the townspeople defensive tactics to help protect them from the three outlaws, but is he really helping them? Store Keeper "Morgan Allen" distrusts "The Stranger's" motives and with some others ambushes him in the saloon. Only to have those with him killed and himself gravely wounded.
Next "The Stranger" enters the hotel and grabs "Mrs. Belding" and takes her to his room. He forces himself on her. He falls asleep and has the dream about the man being whipped to death. Two things become clear in this dream. One is that it is "Jim Duncan", Buddy van Horn, the "Lago" town marshal being bull whipped. The second that the towns people just stand and watch without helping him. Except "Mordecai" who wanted to help, but is prevented.
When "The Stranger" wakes "Sarah Belding" tells him that "Marshal Duncan" is buried outside of town in an unmarked grave. She ads that it is said that the dead can't rest until they are avenged. It is now revealed that the townspeople hired the three just released outlaws to murder "Duncan". So that he wouldn't tell the authorities that the mine they co-own is on Government land. After the murder the town double crossed the outlaws sending the three to prison.
"Mordecai" and "The Stranger" are becoming very close. "Mordecai" keeps asking him his name without receiving an answer.
"The Stranger" gives the townspeople the strange request to paint the entire town red. They start as he rides out to find "Bridges" and the "Carlin" brothers.
He next spots the three outlaws and from a safe hiding place opens fire with a long range rifle, but not aiming to hit them. Just causing the three to wonder who was shooting and why?
Returning to "Lago" the town's signpost is now changed to read "HELL"!
"The Stranger" places the citizens of "Hell" into specific firing places along the main street. For what they believe is to back him up. As the three outlaws ride into town at one end of the main street. "The Stranger" rides out of town at the other end.
"The Stranger" returns that night as "Lago" is burning and truly looks like hell. Those still alive are in panic and together in the saloon. He now seeks the three men who murdered "Marshal Jim Duncan"
"The Stranger" first finds "Cole Carlin" and uses a bullwhip on the outlaw until he's dead. He finds "Cole's" brother "Dan Carlin" and hangs him with a second bull whip. Lastly, he locates "Stacey Bridges" and shoots the outlaw dead. However, "Lewis Belding" comes out of hiding and takes aim at the back of "The Stranger", but before he can fire. A shot rings out from "Mordecai's" pistol and "Belding" falls dead.
The following morning the town of "Lago" is mostly a burnt out shell and the townspeople are in a state of shock. As "The Stranger" rides down the main street and heads out of town. He stops at the unmarked grave of "Marshal Duncan" and observes the only good soul in "Lago", "Mordecai", making a real headstone for the dead marshal.
Once more "Mordecai" asks "The Stranger" what is his name? "Mordecai" is told that he already knows it. As the viewer sees that the new headstone reads:
MARSHAL JIM DUNCAN REST IN PEACE
"The Stranger" than keeps riding and disappears into the mirage.
Released June 28, 1985 was "Pale Rider".
I look at the screenplay by Dennis Shryack, 1969's comedy Western "The Good Guys and the Bad Guys" and 1977's "The Gauntlet", and Michael Butler as George Stevens's classic 1953 Western "Shane" meets the "New Testament".
The Main Cast
The motion picture was produced and directed by its star Clint Eastwood. In "High Plains Drifter" he was "The Stranger". In "Pale Rider" he is the "Preacher".
Michael Moriarty portrays "Hull Barret". American Moriarty studied acting in London and was seen on stage there and in the United States. He became a recognizable face on American television and appeared in some interesting roles prior to this film. In 1973 he co-starred with unknown Robert De Niro in the baseball film "Bang the Drum Slowly". In 1975 he was the lead in the hard hitting police drama "Report to the Commissioner" and in 1978's "The Winds of Kitty Hawk" he portrayed "Wilbur Wright". Michael Moriarty was in a fun horror picture as the unlucky hoodlum that finds the winged serpent killing New Yorkers in 1982's "Q".
Carrie Snodgress was "Sarah Wheeler". Snodgress was a commune women in 1969's "Easy Rider" and then went to her critically acclaim lead in 1970's "Diary of a Mad Housewife". Between that film and this picture she "Guest Appeared" on many television shows.
Sydney Penny portrayed "Megan Wheeler".Penny was the voice for "Lucy Van Pelt" and was a familiar face on television. She had appeared in several made for television movies and this was her first theatrical motion picture.
In "Shane" the story revolves around Wyoming homesteaders being driven away by a large rancher. That rancher will hire a killer "Jack Wilson" played by Jack Palance. One specific family fights to keep their land/ They are "Joe Starrett", Van Helflin, his wife "Marian", Jean Arthur, and their son "Joey", Brandon deWilde. Into their life comes a mysterious gunfighter "Shane", Alan Ladd, to help the family and the other homesteaders.
In "Pale Rider" the story revolves around small claim miners in Northern California being driven away by a large Strip Mining company owned by "Coy LaHood", Richard Dysart. Who will hire a so-called "Marshal Stockburn", actually a killer hiding behind a badge, to drive the miners off their claims. The family in this screenplay are ""Hull Barret", the women he is courting "Sarah Wheeler" and her daughter "Megan". Into their lives comes the mysterious "Preacher" to help this family and the other small claim miners.
The film opens with a group of men destroying the small miners encampment. On their way out one of them shoots a dog belonging to "Megan Wheeler". When she finishes burying her pet. "Megan's" Christian faith takes hold and she preys for a miracle to help her family and the others.
Switch to "Megan" in the shack she lives in with her mother and in another room "Hull". A lightening storm suddenly comes up and "Megan" begins to recite "Chapter 6. Verse 8, from the Book of Revelations":
AND I LOOKED, AND BEHOLD A PALE HORSE: AND HIS NAME THAT ON HIM WAS DEATH, AND HELL FOLLOWED WITH HIM.As the recitation is being said a man appears during the lightening storm riding toward the mining encampment. There will be other "New Testament" references in the screenplay.
Next "Hull Barret" rides into town to get supplies and is attacked and beaten up by some "LaHood's" hired thugs. The rider from the storm arrives and breaks up the beating and is invited to dinner with "Barret" and "Sarah Wheeler".
In "Shane" "Joe Starrett" is accosted by hired hands of the large rancher and "Shane" appears, saves him from a beating, and is invited to dinner.
After introductions man asks if he could clean up and is shown to a room with a wash tub. "Hull" enters and notices six bullet holes in man's back. "Sarah" is a little concerned about the man "Hull" brought up and "Megan" is also curious. All three are shocked when he comes out wearing a clerical collar and the "Preacher" is revealed.
In "Shane" "Marian Starrett" is upset about "Shane" being a gunmen until she starts to know him. "Joey" starts to idolize the gunfighter. In "Pale Rider" the same idolization comes from "Megan".
After dinner the "Preacher" joins "Hull" and they go down to the stream to remove a boulder that has been causing him problems with his claim. In the previous movie "Shane" stays on and helps the homesteader on his farm.
The son of the owner of the large mining operation "Josh LaHood", Chris Penn, arrives with a very large man named "Club", Richard Kiel. Best known as "Jaws" in the Roger Moore "James Bond" films, but had the title role of a caveman in the cult 1962 film "Eegah: The Name Written in Blood". "Club" attempts to intimidate the "Preacher" in front of "Hull" and the other miners,but is defeated.
That defeat unites the small family miners and they help remove the boulder. The "Preacher" and "Hull" go into town for supplies.
In town the two are attacked by several of "Josh LaHood's" men. Standing above one of them the "Preacher" explains the outnumbered two men's victory saying:
WELL, THE LORD DOES WORK IN MYSTERIOUS WAYSMeanwhile, "Coy LaHood"returns from Sacramento and is furious after hearing of the arrival of the "Preacher"and what he could mean to his operation. Along with the fact his son couldn't handle one "Preacher".
Above Chris Penn and Richard Dysart.
At first "Coy" attempts to bribe the "Preacher" to leave the small miners and move to town where he could watch him. That fails and the "Preacher" comments:
YOU CAN'T SERVE GOD AND MAMMON, MAMMON BEING MONEYIn the "New Testament", "Mammon" refers to wealth, or the promise of wealth.
"Coy" next offers every miner $1,000 for their claims and gives them 24 hours to decide, but "Hull" convinces them to stay. The "Preacher" leaves and goes to a bank in another town to retrieve his Civil War pistol from a safe deposit box.
Meanwhile the small miners find that "Coy LaHood's" men have blown up the creek that runs through their encampment and it is now damned up. "Megan" is concerned as to where the "Preacher" has gone and makes the mistake of riding into "LaHood's" strip mining operation. There "Josh" attempts to rape the girl, but the "Preacher" shows up and shoots the other in his gun hand.
"Coy LaHood" now calls for "Marshal Stockburn", John Russell. From 1958 through 1962 John Russell starred as "Marshal Dan Troop" for 156 episodes of televisions "Lawman". "Troop" was a "Marshal Dillon" character who stood for law and order. Russell had a field day of turning "Troop" into the purely evil and sadistic "Stockburn" the anti-thesis of the other lawman.
"Stockburn" arrives with six deputies.
When "Stockburn" asks "LaHood" to describe this "Preacher". He is taken back for a moment as the description is similar to a man he killed. Back at the small mining encampment "Spider Conway", Doug McGrath, finds a very large gold nugget from the now unblocked stream and goes into town with his sons.
There the drunken "Spider Conway" starts yelling abusive words about "Coy LaHood". Next "Conway" is confronted by "Marshal Stockburn" and his six deputies.
"Stockburn" kills "Conway" and tells his sons to tell the "Preacher" he'll be waiting in town for him.
In the movie "Shane" the similar scene has homesteader "Stonewall Torrey", Elisha Cook, Jr., going into down and getting drunk. He starts yelling at the large ranch owner in front a saloon. Out comes "Wilson", the hired killer, and shoots him down and sends word to "Shane" he'll be waiting for him.
In "Pale Rider" the following morning after "Conway's" murder. The "Preacher" and "Hull" go to "Coy's" strip mining site and blow it up with dynamite. Afterwards, the "Preacher" runs off "Hull's" horse so he can't go after him and heads for town to confront "LaHood" and "Stockburn".
In the previous picture "Shane" and "Joe Starrett" argue as to who is going into town to get "Wilson". "Shane" settles the argument by knocking "Joe" out and heads for the final confrontation.
The "Preacher" now arrives in town and "Coy LaHood's" men attempt to ambush him. He proceeds to coolly kill each one of them. "Marshall Stockburn" has his men spread out to haunt down the "Preacher". Who one by one kills them all until only "Stockburn" is left.
When the two men are face to face "Marshall Stockburn" stares at the "Preacher" and states:
I KILLED YOU!The "Preacher" is faster than "Stockburn" and shoots him six times in the chest, as his own bullet holes indicate, and then once through the head.
"Coy LaHood", from his office, takes a rifle and aims it at the "Preacher", but is killed by "Hull". He thanks him, and then "The Preacher" gets on his horse and heads for the snow capped mountains he first rode in from.
"Megan" in the wagon rides into town and sees the "Preacher" riding off. She shouts to him her thanks and that she loves him.
The movie "Shane" ends with "Wilson" being killed and the rancher who hired him. This is witnessed by young "Joey Starrett". As "Shane" rides off "Joey" calls to him to come back and he loves him. What the boy does not know is the gunfighter was mortally wounded and the films ends with him riding off now dead in his saddle.
While the "Preacher" was always dead. As Clint Eastwood stated in an 2008 audio interview. The "Preacher":
IS AN OUT AND OUT GHOST