For western genre enthusiasts, Clint Eastwood is a proper icon. Loved and revered by any, Eastwood, however, incurred the displeasure of a legendary cowboy, so much so that the latter refused to partake in a film with his successor.
Eastwood starred in the 1973 film High Plains Drifter which he also directed. Now a classic, the film was absolutely hated by John Wayne, an iconic figure in the western genre and Eastwood’s senior.
Eastwood revealed in his book, Ride, Boldly Ride: The Evolution of the American Western, about the letter that an angry Wayne sent him to make his feelings known.
Eastwood revealed, “He [Wayne] said it wasn’t really about the people who pioneered the West. I realised that there’s two different generations, and he wouldn’t understand what I was doing.”
To clarify the intentions behind making the film, the veteran actor said, “High Plains Drifter was meant to be a fable. It wasn’t meant to show the hours of pioneering drudgery. It wasn’t supposed to be anything about settling the West.”
The film revolves around Eastwood as a gun-slinging drifter who rides into Lago and is met with great resistance. However, the people recognise his talent with the pistol and enlist his help to fight against a band of hooligans who have been plaguing the twon. The drifter agrees but with a hidden agenda of his own.
Wayne’s films were way different from the film in question. High Plains Drifter is darker and more violent than Wayne’s usual films. While Wayne’s characters have been more realistic and relatable, often never needing guns to scare people due to his intimidating presence, Eastwood’s characters are mysterious and do not speak much; Eastwood’s character is more violent and loves wielding bullets.
Eastwood’s characters are selfish and violent and have individual codes of conduct and are often questionable while Wayne is more heroic and a perfect specimen of western heroes.
Watch High Plains Drifter on Netflix now to formulate an opinion of your own.