Pale Rider

Clint Eastwood's first western following his 1976 The Outlaw Josey Wales plays like an anthology of forbidden images: it finds room for all the classic moments—the clattering charge of a group of horsemen across the open plain, the silent showdown on Main Street, even “Dance, mister!”—that were virtually banned from the screen when the form entered its commercial decline. For anyone mourning the disappearance of the richest genre in American film, Eastwood's assured, uncondescending evocation of its contours would have been more than enough. But Eastwood has also been able to use the format to continue his personal reflections on his own screen presence and the nature of the action hero, evoked through his troubled relationships with women (here a precocious, hero-worshiping 16-year-old and a strong, disenchanted middle-aged woman) and the community he is compelled to protect (a group of prospectors threatened by a large mining company). Though the metaphysical overtones of the screenplay are sometimes awkwardly handled and Eastwood's direction of actors (other than himself) is occasionally uncertain, this was one of the better American films of 1985. With Michael Moriarty and Carrie Snodgress.

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