Critic Reviews



Based on 13 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
No actor is more aware of his own instruments, and Eastwood demonstrates that in Pale Rider, a film he dominates so completely that only later do we realize how little we really saw of him.
This veteran movie icon handles both jobs with such intelligence and facility I'm just now beginning to realize that, though Mr. Eastwood may have been improving over the years, it's also taken all these years for most of us to recognize his very consistent grace and wit as a film maker.
Though the metaphysical overtones of the screenplay are sometimes awkwardly handled and Eastwood's direction of actors (other than himself) is occasionally uncertain, this was one of the better American films of 1985.
It’s all been seen before, but Eastwood serves it up with authority, fine craftsmanship and a frequent sense of fun. This film is graced not only by an excellent visual look and confident storytelling, but by a few fine performances, led by Eastwood’s own.
Time Out
There are sufficient question-marks inserted to lift it out of the routine: Eastwood's preacher man seems to carry the stigmata of a ghost; and he arrives as the answer to a maiden's prayer. Furthermore, his care for the landscape puts him in the Anthony Mann class. It's good to be back in the saddle again.
Eastwood has a deep love and understanding for the genre, and it shows in every frame of PALE RIDER. The supernatural elements of the story are incidental and handled in a restrained, subtle manner that does not distract from the story but enhances it, bringing another dimension to the oft-told tale. Eastwood the director has delivered a thought-provoking, well-crafted western.
Miami Herald
It's beautiful, too. Westerns just don't work without scenery, and Bruce Surtees, the cinematographer, shoots postcards. [28 June 1985, p.1]
Pale Rider may be a risk simply because westerns are not in vogue right now at the box office, but fresh and challenging westerns with Clint Eastwood always will be in vogue.
When Eastwood, who also directed the picture (from a Michael Butler-Dennis Shryack script), faces off against Russell's Maleficent Seven, viewers may get an old-fashioned western tingle. But Pale Rider does nothing to disprove the wisdom that this genre is best left to the revival houses. A double feature of Shane and Eastwood's High Plains Drifter will do just fine, thanks.
The New Yorker
There ins't a gleam of good sense anywhere in this picture.

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