High Plains Drifter

  • Directors: Clint Eastwood
  • Producers: Robert Daley
  • Writers: Ernest Tidyman, Dean Riesner
  • Genres: Thriller, Western
  • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom, Marianna Hill, Billy Curtis

A lone man on horseback emerges from a shimmering desert horizon and heads into the fictional town of Lago, in a setting like the Arizona territory. After passing a cemetery on the town’s outskirts, he rides slowly down the main street, where the townspeople eye him warily. He exchanges a stare with three gun-toting men on the boardwalk of the saloon; then his attention is drawn sharply by the crack of a teamster’s whip.

Dismounting, this Stranger (Eastwood) goes to the saloon, for a beer and a bottle of whiskey. The gunslingers come in and bait him as a “flea-bitten range bum”, not “fast enough” for Lago. Baiting them in return, he speaks quietly, telling them only that he is “[a] lot faster than [they]’ll ever live to be.” He exits and walks across the street to the barbershop. Though unnerved by him, the barber gamely begins giving him a shave.

Within minutes, the gunslingers enter, surround the Stranger, and attempt to lay hands on him. He surprises them with his gun drawn and ready, masked by the apron the barber had tied around his neck. He shoots all three dead in seconds. Impressed, a dwarf named Mordecai approaches from the saloon and lights the Stranger’s cigar. “What did you say your name was again?” the dwarf asks. “I didn’t,” the Stranger replies.

Only as the Stranger is leaving the town, the next day, is the question of his identity addressed — cryptically. He passes Sarah, who is packing her suitcases into a wagon on which she herself will be leaving; then he passes Mordecai, who is at the cemetery. Apparently at the Stranger’s instruction, Mordecai is just finishing the inscription on a grave marker. “I never did know your name,” Mordecai says. “Yes, you do,” the Stranger replies. As the Stranger continues on, a reverse angle reveals that the marker bears the name of Marshal Jim Duncan — “Rest in Peace.” The Stranger rides away, fading into the shimmering horizon whence he came.

Dirty Harry

  • Directors: Don Siegel
  • Producers: Don Siegel
  • Writers: Story, Harry Julian Fink, R M Fink, Screenplay, Harry Julian Fink, R M Fink, Dean Riesner, Uncredited, John Milius, Terrence Malick
  • Genres: Action, Crime, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Clint Eastwood, Harry Guardino, Reni Santoni, John Vernon, Andy Robinson

A serial killer who calls himself “Scorpio” (Andy Robinson) murders a young woman in a San Francisco high-rise rooftop swimming pool using a high-powered sniper rifle from the top of the 555 California Street skyscraper. The spent shell casing is found on the roof of another high-rise across the street by Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood); it’s accompanied by a ransom message from the Scorpio Killer, promising more deaths if the city does not pay him $100,000. The chief of police, with the agreement of the Mayor (John Vernon), assigns Harry to the case and arranges for extra support.

As he waits for his lunch in a local cafe, Harry notices a robbery is taking place and tells the cafe owner to call the police and report an armed robbery in progress. While he waits for reinforcements, the robbers emerge from the bank, shooting wildly into the bank, forcing Harry to act. He confronts a robber in the street, who fires a shotgun at him. Harry returns fire, sending the robber sprawling to the ground. Another robber makes it into the getaway car, which the driver aims at Harry as he pulls away. Harry fires at the car, causing the driver to lose control and crash into a fire hydrant. Harry turns back to the robber he shot earlier, approaches the wounded man (Albert Popwell), and utters his famous line:

Harry watches as Scorpio’s body floats on the surface of the water. He takes out his inspector’s badge, and hurls it into the water, walking away.