After a nine-year break from the genre that made him an international star (the Western just before this one was The Outlaw Josey Wales, from 1976), Clint Eastwood returned in this gritty Western, crafted in the tradition of Shane and High Noon. Eastwood directed and stars as the nameless stranger known only as "Preacher," because he rides into a beleaguered mining town wearing a clerical collar. He's either an agent of death or an angel of mercy, and the echoes of Shane ring loud and clear when he comes to the aid of independent miners who are being terrorized by a local tycoon (Richard Dysart) and his ruthless band of hired guns. Befriended by a miner (Michael Moriarty) and idolized by the miner's wife and daughter (played by Carrie Snodgress and Sydney Penny, respectively), the "Pale Rider" sparks the defiant spirit of the underdog miners and takes after the bad guys with single-minded purpose. --Jeff Shannon
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