Pale Rider (1985)

R | 116 mins | Western | 1985

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Producer:

Clint Eastwood

Cinematographer:

Bruce Surtees

Editor:

Joel Cox

Production Designer:

Edward Carfagno

Production Company:

Malpaso
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HISTORY

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Desiree Gorham, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.

End credits contain a “special thanks” to the U.S. Department of Agricultural-Forest Service and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
       According to a 4 Nov 1984 LAT article, executive producer Fritz Manes and director Clint Eastwood began working on Pale Rider in the late 1970s. By the time the film went into production, eight years had passed since Eastwood’s last western, The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976, see entry), as stated in a 19 Sep 1984 Var news item. LAT noted that the western genre had not been popular in recent years, but many westerns were in development at studios or with independent producers, and Warner Bros. was eager to release Pale Rider as the first of “the new batch of Westerns to come out.”
       Filming began 17 Sep 1984, as reported in the 19 Sep 1984 Var item. Production notes from AMPAS library stated that most of the shoot took place in Sun Valley, ID. According to the 4 Nov 1984 LAT, filmmakers took advantage of the early fall season in Sun Valley, a time referred to by the 12,000 local residents as “slack time” since ski season had not yet started and tourists were scarce. An entire town consisting of twelve buildings was constructed from scratch. The town was built on a campsite in Boulder Creek, “approximately ten miles north of Ketchum, Idaho,” and ... More Less

The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and note were written by participant Desiree Gorham, a student at Oregon State University, with Jon Lewis as academic advisor.

End credits contain a “special thanks” to the U.S. Department of Agricultural-Forest Service and Sawtooth National Recreation Area.
       According to a 4 Nov 1984 LAT article, executive producer Fritz Manes and director Clint Eastwood began working on Pale Rider in the late 1970s. By the time the film went into production, eight years had passed since Eastwood’s last western, The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976, see entry), as stated in a 19 Sep 1984 Var news item. LAT noted that the western genre had not been popular in recent years, but many westerns were in development at studios or with independent producers, and Warner Bros. was eager to release Pale Rider as the first of “the new batch of Westerns to come out.”
       Filming began 17 Sep 1984, as reported in the 19 Sep 1984 Var item. Production notes from AMPAS library stated that most of the shoot took place in Sun Valley, ID. According to the 4 Nov 1984 LAT, filmmakers took advantage of the early fall season in Sun Valley, a time referred to by the 12,000 local residents as “slack time” since ski season had not yet started and tourists were scarce. An entire town consisting of twelve buildings was constructed from scratch. The town was built on a campsite in Boulder Creek, “approximately ten miles north of Ketchum, Idaho,” and other locations included an abandoned mine in Sawtooth National Forest. Additional filming took place in Sonora, CA, including scenes involving “a train station, a bank, and various interiors.”
       The 4 Nov 1984 LAT stated that Kathy Wygle, a Sun Valley theater director, scouted local talent and helped cast “three speaking roles and lots of featured extras.” Though several Sun Valley residents performed in the film, local reporters were barred from the set, as media access was forbidden. At least one resident, Jim Ater, protested the film crew’s presence in Sun Valley, claiming that he’d hired an attorney to prevent the filmmakers from creating “an eyesore on public land” and causing irreparable environmental damage. According to the Forest Service, a $2,800 “performance bond” had been obtained by the production, and the money would be used to clean up filming sites even if the crew did not.
       A 10 May 1985 DV article announced that Clint Eastwood made his first appearance at the Cannes Film Festival with Pale Rider , which screened in competition at the festival.
       Critical reception was very positive, though many reviewers cited the film’s similarity to Shane (1953, see entry), including the 28 Jun 1985 LAT review which claimed Eastwood was “remaking” the film, and the 28 Jun 1985 NYT review that pointed out a “final, shameless quote from George Stevens’s 'Shane.'” Eastwood and the rest of the cast were lauded for complex performances, and the script received praise for delivering a classic western and, at the same time, transcending the genre. Critics agreed that Bruce Surtees’s photography, though beautiful, was excessively dark; an 8 May 1985 Var review stated, “some of the interiors are so dark one can barely make out the people within them.” In the 10 May 1985 DV article, Eastwood stated that he preferred “half-lit faces,” adding, “If it’s too dark, it’s my fault for encouraging [Surtees].”
       A 9 Jul 1985 DV brief reported that the film had taken in $21,553,618 in its first ten days of release in 1,710 theaters, surpassing Eastwood’s personal record of $20.9 million in ten days set by the 1984 film Tightrope (see entry).
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
10 May 1985.
---
Daily Variety
9 Jul 1985.
---
Hollywood Reporter
8 May 1985
p. 3, 9.
Los Angeles Times
4 Nov 1984
Section K, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jun 1985
Section F, p. 1, 15.
New York Times
28 Jun 1985
p. 8.
Variety
19 Sep 1984.
---
Variety
8 May 1985
p. 25.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Addl cam op
Addl cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Cam asst
Still photog
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set des
Const coord
Prop master
Leadman
Stand-by painer
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's ward
Men`s ward
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Supv sd eff ed
Asst sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Make-up artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting exec
Scr supv
Unit pub
Asst to prods
Asst to prods
Prod secy
Auditor
Wrangler
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
First aid
First aid
Catering
Animal handler
Animal handler
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Release Date:
1985
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 28 June 1985
Production Date:
began 17 September 1984
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers, Inc.
Copyright Date:
18 February 1986
Copyright Number:
PA276858
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo® in selected theaters
Color
Technicolor®
Widescreen/ratio
2.35:1
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
116
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
27744
SYNOPSIS

In LaHood, California, a mining town dominated by the wealthy Coy LaHood, a rowdy group of men ride horses through Carbon Canyon, tormenting a small community of independent gold miners. After the riders have attacked the village, teenager Megan Wheeler finds her dog has been shot dead. In the woods, Megan buries the dog and prays for a miracle. Meanwhile, Hull Barret drives his wagon into town, despite warnings from fellow Carbon Canyon residents. At a general store run by Jed Blankenship and his wife, Hull picks up supplies, promising to pay later, but Blankenship reminds him that he hasn’t paid his debts in the past eight months. Blankenship worries that Hull may not find any more gold in Carbon Creek, but Hull believes there must be more since LaHood’s men have been trying to run them off the land. Outside the store, LaHood’s men harass Hull and beat him with wooden clubs, but before they can set fire to Hull’s supplies, Preacher, a mysterious man on a white horse, appears and fights them off. Afterward, Hull invites Preacher to stay at his home, where he lives with his fiancée, Sarah Wheeler, and her daughter Megan. Later that day, Megan reads a Bible passage to Sarah as she cooks dinner; in the passage, a rider on a pale horse represents death. At the mention of the rider, Sarah and Megan spot Preacher riding his pale horse alongside Hull. Sarah threatens to leave when she learns that Hull offered to let Preacher stay; however, when Preacher shows up for dinner wearing his preacher’s collar, Sarah and Megan warm to him. The next morning, Hull explains to Preacher that LaHood has ... +


In LaHood, California, a mining town dominated by the wealthy Coy LaHood, a rowdy group of men ride horses through Carbon Canyon, tormenting a small community of independent gold miners. After the riders have attacked the village, teenager Megan Wheeler finds her dog has been shot dead. In the woods, Megan buries the dog and prays for a miracle. Meanwhile, Hull Barret drives his wagon into town, despite warnings from fellow Carbon Canyon residents. At a general store run by Jed Blankenship and his wife, Hull picks up supplies, promising to pay later, but Blankenship reminds him that he hasn’t paid his debts in the past eight months. Blankenship worries that Hull may not find any more gold in Carbon Creek, but Hull believes there must be more since LaHood’s men have been trying to run them off the land. Outside the store, LaHood’s men harass Hull and beat him with wooden clubs, but before they can set fire to Hull’s supplies, Preacher, a mysterious man on a white horse, appears and fights them off. Afterward, Hull invites Preacher to stay at his home, where he lives with his fiancée, Sarah Wheeler, and her daughter Megan. Later that day, Megan reads a Bible passage to Sarah as she cooks dinner; in the passage, a rider on a pale horse represents death. At the mention of the rider, Sarah and Megan spot Preacher riding his pale horse alongside Hull. Sarah threatens to leave when she learns that Hull offered to let Preacher stay; however, when Preacher shows up for dinner wearing his preacher’s collar, Sarah and Megan warm to him. The next morning, Hull explains to Preacher that LaHood has been trying to take over Carbon Canyon, despite Hull and his comrades’ legal claims to the land. Hull apologizes that he and Sarah are living together without being married, and explains that Sarah is leery of marriage because her first husband left her. When Preacher offers to work, Hull shows him a boulder in Carbon Creek that he has always wanted to move to pan for gold beneath, and Preacher chips away at the rock with a sledgehammer. Soon, Josh and a giant henchman named Club arrive, and Josh threatens Preacher, suggesting he leave town, as Club picks up the sledgehammer and splits the rock in half with one swing. At the train station, Josh meets LaHood upon his arrival and tells him about Preacher. Concerned that Preacher will unite the Carbon Canyon community, he urges Josh to do whatever it takes to drive them out. That day, Hull finds a sizeable gold nugget below the large rock and takes it to town to settle his debt at Blankenship’s store. Meanwhile, Josh takes Preacher to meet with LaHood at his office, and LaHood bribes him to become the town preacher, offering money and his own church. When Preacher rejects the offer, LaHood warns that Stockburn, a new, tough marshal, will arrive soon, and the Carbon Canyon gold miners should immediately leave town. Preacher negotiates with LaHood, who agrees to pay $1,000 to each of the residents if they agree to leave without a fight. That night, the Carbon Canyon miners consider LaHood’s offer, but they reject his money and decide to stay. In the woods, Megan finds Preacher and tells him she loves him, but when she suggests they make love, Preacher says she should not waste her future on a man like him and promises the right man will come along someday. Megan accuses Preacher of having feelings for her mother and runs off. The next day, Preacher leaves Carbon Canyon and an explosion set by LaHood’s men dams Carbon Creek. After the creek dries up, Sarah blames Hull for rejecting LaHood’s $1000 offer, especially now that Preacher is no longer there to protect them. At a bank, Preacher accesses a lock box, taking the gun inside and replacing it with his preacher’s collar. Later, Spider Conway, a Carbon Canyon gold miner, finds an aggregate rock containing numerous gold nuggets and heads to town to celebrate. Meanwhile, Megan rides to LaHood’s mining site, where Josh offers to show her around before pulling her off her horse. LaHood’s men gather to watch as Josh forces himself on Megan, but before he can rape her, Preacher appears on a hill, shoots Josh’s hand, and retrieves Megan. In town, Spider stands outside LaHood’s office and drunkenly taunts him. Stockburn’s deputies shoot Spider as his sons, Eddie and Teddy, watch. Stockburn gives Eddie and Teddy a message, ordering Preacher to meet him in town the next day. That night, Sarah finds Preacher and confesses her love for him, but when she suggests that he is the type of man who would leave her, he confirms her fears. She kisses him, and he orders her to close the door for privacy. In the morning, Hull and Preacher throw explosives onto LaHood’s mining site, destroying equipment and rousing LaHood’s men from sleep. Though Josh tries to shoot Preacher, Club, the giant, stops him. Heading to town, Preacher scares off Hull’s horse so that Hull cannot accompany him and orders Hull to take care of Sarah and Megan. In town, after he sends the Blankenships away, Preacher lures LaHood’s men into the general store and shoots them dead. Stockburn sends his deputies after Preacher, who manages to evade the deputies and shoot them down, one by one. Finally, Preacher approaches Stockburn in the middle of town. Just as Stockburn recognizes Preacher as a man he thought was dead, he draws his gun, but Preacher shoots him and kills him. Inside his office, LaHood aims a rifle at Preacher through the window, but Hull bursts in and shoots him. Before Preacher rides away, he remarks that Hull took a long walk to get there. Moments later, Megan rides into town, but she is too late to say goodbye. Instead, she calls out to Preacher, saying she loves him and “thank you.” As Preacher rides into the mountains, Hull and Megan head home. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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