Meeting a Former Editor from Warner Brothers   Leave a comment

This story is a conversation between a hitchhiker and a former editor from Warner Brothers. The editor did some work on the film High Plains Drifter.

It was probably the spring of 1997. I hitchhiked north on U.S. 395 from southern California and got dropped off in Bishop. Bishop is a very beautiful place.

The mountains to the east were dry and brown, the mountains to the west (Sierra Nevadas) were rugged and snow-covered. There are a lot of irrigated ranches in that valley. I walked through Bishop for a couple of miles and then stopped north of town on U.S. 395. I waited for a short while and this vehicle pulled over to pick me up.

The guy who gave me a ride was probably in his late fifties or early sixties. He told me that he was coming from a ranch that he owned in Mexico; he was heading to Mammoth Lakes where he owned a grocery store. I told him that I was hitchhiking around the country for a short while; I had just quit my job at Harold Pike Construction Company in Ames, Iowa (Pike Construction hired me ten times in four years, I was grateful that they let me work for them so many times).

“So what did you do before you bought your ranch?” I asked.

“I worked for Warner Brothers as an editor,” he replied. “I worked at Warner Bothers for a number of years and got tired of being in the studio.”

“So what films did you work on?” I asked.

“One film I worked on was High Plains Drifter,” he said.

I looked at him and exclaimed, “No way! High Plains Drifter? That is one of my favorite westerns. You are not going to believe this, but in 1995 I had a short story published by Ethos magazine. The title of my short story is ‘High Plains Drifter.'”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

At the time, I had a few copies of my short story in a folder in my backpack. I would pass out my story to people if they were interested in reading it.

“When you drop me off, I will give you a copy of my short story,” I said.

“Sounds good.”

We drove north on U.S. 395. At Lake Crowley he turned off the road and dropped me off at this intersection. I dug out my folder that was in my backpack and gave him a copy of “High Plains Drifter.”

“Thanks,” he said.

“Thanks for the ride.”

He drove off and I started walking up U.S. 395. I walked for a short while. The sun was down and I needed to find a place to sleep. I jumped over this fence and walked out into this sagebrush maybe a quarter of a mile from Lake Crowley. I rolled out my sleeping bag and slept there. I think it got down in the upper 20s F that night.

About my meeting the guy who gave me a ride from Bishop to Lake Crowley: there are no accidents in the Kingdom of Heaven. Things happen for a reason.

The next day I hitchhiked north to Reno.

[The film High Plains Drifter, starring Clint Eastwood, was made at Mono Lake near Lee Vining, California in 1973. Lee Vining is on U.S. 395 between June Lake and Bridgeport.]

[Originally published by Digihitch.com]

High Plains Drifter (short story)
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Book Review:  High Plains Drifter
Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter (1973)
Sleeping at the Post Office in Bridgeport, California
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Clint Eastwood’s film High Plains Drifter (1973)

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The first time I saw High Plains Drifter was probably in the late 1970s. Clint Eastwood stars in and directs the film. Most westerns are either about cattle drives or cowboys and Indians. High Plains Drifter is different: this is a God’s-Judgment-on-the-wicked western.

Clint Eastwood plays a stranger who rides into the town of Lago–and he has a really bad attitude. This stranger is also very good with a side arm. During the course of the film, the stranger ends up killing some bad guys and burning the town of Lago to the ground. There are a couple of flashbacks of one Marshal Jim Duncan being whipped to death.  At the end of the film, the audience can see that the stranger was the Second Coming of Marshal Duncan:

The stranger rides out of the town of Lago past the cemetery. This little guy named Mordecai is writing something on a grave marker. 

The stranger looks at Mordecai and Mordecai looks up and says, “I’m almost done here.”

Then Mordecai asks the stranger, “I never did know your name.”

And the stranger replies, “Yes, you do.”

As the stranger rides off, the camera shows the grave marker: “Marshal Jim Duncan.”

There is a lot of sin (unrepented sin) in the United States and in the world. When people continue to live in sin, eventually God’s Judgment falls. The more people try to hide their sin, the greater God’s Judgment. The people of Lago tried to hide the murder of Marshal Duncan, but their sin was found out. You can’t hide from God.

There is a scene in High Plains Drifter where this lady tells the stranger, “Ever since Marshal Duncan’s death, the people in this town are afraid of strangers.”

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“When the Stranger says: ‘What is the meaning of this city?
Do you huddle close together because you love each other?’
What will you answer? ‘We all dwell together
To make money from each other’? or ‘This is a community’?

“Oh my soul, be prepared for the coming of the Stranger.
Be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.

“There is one who remembers the way to your door:
Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.
You shall not deny the Stranger.”

–T.S. Eliot
Choruses from “The Rock”

_____

There is another scene in High Plains Drifter where the people of Lago are meeting at the church. One of the guys is speaking in the front of the church. The camera then pans to the right and shows a bulletin board with this Scripture:

Isaiah 53: 3-4: “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”

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The Days of Vengeance

Marshal Jim Duncan was whipped to death; Jesus Christ was at least nine-tenths whipped to death. The stranger riding into Lago (the first scene of the film) is a symbol of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ: not as the Lamb of God, but as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Isaiah 63: 1-6: “Who is this that cometh from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. Wherefore art thou red in thine apparel, and thy garments like him that treadeth in the winefat? I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment. For the day of vengeance is in mine heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. And I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore mine own arm brought salvation unto me; and my fury, it upheld me. And I will tread down the people in mine anger, and make them drunk in my fury, and I will bring down their strength to the earth.”

Luke 21: 22:  “For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.”

High Plains Drifter (the film)
The Killer Angels
High Plains Drifter (short story)
The Second Coming
High Plains Drifter (1973)
Book Review:  High Plains Drifter
A Conversation with a Vietnam Veteran
High Plains Drifter as Social Commentary
Meeting a Former Editor from Warner Brothers

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