199 words about Pale Rider
There's nowhere to hide from the Judge's face
A younger (read: still pretty old) Clint Eastwood understood how to cut his grouchy righteousness with silence, amorality and straight up weird shit. A camp full of decent folk are being terrorized by an evil mining company — represented by a bratty teenaged Chris Penn, in a proto-stop pointin’ that fuckin’ gun at my dad! performance — and the conflict goes about how you’d expect. Does Eastwood chase the devils off? You bet he does. But man, everything else is wild. He’s propositioned by Carrie Snodgress (39 when this movie was shot) and Sydney Penny (13). There’s a scene where he beats up a gang of no-goods with a baseball bat and it sounds like Cal Ripken belting dingers while the other team falls down a set of stairs. He’s a preacher, meant to stand in for grim death itself, but his most memorable fight ends with him striking an Andre The Giant knockoff right in the nards. The last shot — Eastwood riding off into the steep Idaho wilderness as a terrifyingly horny Penny hollers “WE ALL LOVE YOU, PREACHER!” — is tonal perfection. Pale Rider is a Stallone flick dressed up in a Western’s quiet stoicism, and knows enough to only pretend to mean something.