Clint Eastwood: Western Icon Collection – DVD Review

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Clint Eastwood High Plains Drifter
John Sturges Joe Kidd
Don Siegel Two Mules For Sister Sara

DVD Release Date: May 1, 2007
Rating: R
Running Time: 307 Minutes

The Movies

Clint Eastwood has become a staple at the top of the directing world in recent years and will probably stay there as long as he wishes to. His transition from actor to director was virtually flawless as he is incredibly talented at both skills. As he got up in age, his acting roles had gone in a different direction then when he first started out. Eastwood tried his hand at crime dramas like Absolute Power and True Crime. He also ventured into the comedic drama genre with Space Cowboys. All three were good but not great films for he had done most of his great work in a genre where he seemed to fit right in, a western.

One of the greatest western icons to ever don a cowboy hat and spurs, Eastwood is presented in three films that portray him in all his hero and vigilante glory. High Plains Drifter showcases Eastwood as a bit of both as he comes into the town of Lago to save the people from themselves and put forth a bit of his own vigilant justice. Joe Kidd also shows Eastwood as a ruthless killer hired to perform a deed of pure evil. But when his employer turns out to not be what he expected, a change of heart is in order. And finally is Two Mules For Sister Sara that stars Shirley McLaine alongside Eastwood in a fight for freedom and a lot of gold.

Three premiere westerns with the star of the dirt road. High Plains Drifter also marks the first western that Eastwood directed and you can certainly see the directorial talent was in him as early as 1973. Calling him an icon would simply be an understatement because these three films show only a small amount of what he brought to the genre as a whole.

High Plains Drifter

Clint Eastwood The Stranger
Verna Bloom Sarah Belding
Mariana Hall Callie Travers

The California Sierra Mountains hide many small towns among their lofty peaks and deep crevices. One of them is the town of Lago of which the townspeople’s main priority and source of income is mining. Things aren’t too excitable in Lago until one day when a Stranger came to town. He’s not looking for anything in particular but decides to take in some of the local businesses and he ends up making a name (not literally) for himself real quick.

First of all he disposes of three cowboy gangsters who thought that harassing him at the saloon and while getting a shave in the barber shop would be a good idea. After the quick work he made of them, someone else decides to get on his bad side. That would be the town whore named Callie Travers who tries to rudely teach him some manners; so he decides to have his way with her in a nearby barn. The head townspeople have seen enough and know he is the man they’ve been looking for.

Lago and its people are tormented by Stacey Bridges and his cousins the Carlin brothers. They used to work in the mine like everyone else, but soon ended up in jail and are now seeking revenge. The Stranger takes them off on their offer but is going to do things his way. He takes the best rooms for himself, gives away some of their belongings to neighboring Indians, and even has the saloon serve free drinks. He does try to help though by teaching the townsfolk about self-defense, but they only end up as a bunch of corrupt yellowbellies.

When all is said and done, he tries to toughen them up even more by making them feel guilty for what happened to their former marshal Jim Duncan. Duncan was bull-whipped to death by Bridges and the Carlin brothers, but they were simply following the head townspeople’s orders. The Stranger makes them paint every building red to represent the feeling of being in Hell for what they did, and it should make them stronger people for facing their guilt. But there is a lot more to this stranger then most thought and he may not be the evil person he seems.

Joe Kidd

Clint Eastwood Joe Kidd
Robert Duvall Frank Harlan
John Saxon Luis Chama
Don Stroud Lamarr Simms
Stella Garcia Helen Sanchez

Joe Kidd is a man who doesn’t have much to say and takes what he wants when he wants. It doesn’t really matter who has to go through to get it, nor does it matter what he’ll have to do to get it either. Even if that means killing a man in cold blood. And for the type of person that landowner Frank Harlan has in mind that is exactly what he is looking for as he springs Joe Kidd from jail.

Harlan is quite wealthy and wants to hire a man who knows how to kill. There is a large group of Mexicans that actually claim the land Harlan is on belongs to them. The band of men is lead by a revolutionary leader known as Luis Chama, and Harlan wants him dead. He figures that if Chama is taken out by Kidd, the Mexicans will leave him and his property alone. So Kidd agrees and sets out with Harlan and some men to take down Chama and his band of mercenaries.

Along the way on their search for Chama, Kidd soon realizes that Harlan is not as innocent as he seems to be by hiring someone else to make his kills. Upon arriving in a tiny Mexican village, Harlan shows his true colors and begins killing people left and right all the while threatening to kill more until Chama surrenders to him. This doesn’t sit too well with Kidd, so Harlan lumps him right in with Chama and his men which makes him disposable. But he won’t get rid of Joe Kidd so easily.

Two Mules For Sister Sara

Clint Eastwood Hogan
Shirley McLaine Sara

Hogan is a stranger to Mexico and is simply passing through to do a job. But when he hears the calls of a woman in distress, he must do his duty and step in. As he comes closer, he notices a gang of bad buys robbing a nun so Hogan chases them off and saves the nun. Ever grateful, the nun Sara thanks Hogan and decides to travel with him since they happen to be headed in the same direction.

Traveling leads to small talk and the two find out they have a lot in common including one set goal to take out a French fort. The fort is destroying the lifestyle of the Mexicans who have lived in the area for some time and altering their every way of life. Sister Sara wants the French stopped so that the Mexican people can live in peace and survive as they always have. Hogan on the other hand knows that taking out the fort would be a wealthy payday and he also knows that the affection growing in him for Sister Sara is not right considering what she is, but they may all change.

Along their journey they also meet up with a group of Mexican guerillas that have the same goal in mind for the French fort, to take it down. Their plan is simple, destroy the fort, kill all those inside, and celebrate their victory. Oddly enough, Sister Sara doesn’t quite mind the plan even though the violence included means death to others. There are a few other traits that Sara displays along the way which would make many question her close relationship to God. But those concerns sit backseat to the task at hand.

The Video

The films are each shown in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and look beautiful. They seem as if they have gotten a lot of work done to them to have them looking as if they were just filmed. The colors of the Old West are very bright and sharp while the nighttime scenes look dark, but not solid black.

The Audio

The films are each heard in Dolby Digital 2.0 sound and there isn’t much to it. Considering how almost everything is heard in surround sound now; it’s kind of odd when you come across a single speaker film such as these three. Still the dialogue is heard easily, gunshots are loud and crisp, and the music never overpowers anything else happening on screen.

Special Features

Theatrical Trailers – The three films get their original trailers in all their old fashioned glory.

The Inside Pulse

Two good films and on great film put together in an incredibly lackluster set. It is rather obvious that not much time was put into creating this set because the trailers are the only special feature and there isn’t even a “scene selection” option. The films are fun to watch, especially High Plains Drifter, but the sound quality is quite the disappointment. Even more so since they obviously remastered the video because it looks great, you’d think they would have done the same for the audio. It’s a shame to look at the overall score because the films are good, but their presentation is just lousy. I myself though would have made two better choices then Two Mules and Joe Kidd, but I digress. So if you know you like any of the three included and not the others, you might as well just buy them separately in which case you’ll also probably get more special features.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Clint Eastwood: Western Icon Collection
(OUT OF 10)