I'm sure I have said before that I'm a sucker for westerns, particularly Sergio Leone and a few of the subsequent Eastwood movies. Before the days of DVDs and Amazon, I watched them on TV whenever they popped up. As a result, I know most of them from the German versions, as I lived most of my adult life in Germany.
And I always loved High Plains Drifter, as it was so offbeat. And it always made sense.
A few years back now, I got hold of the DVD and have since watched in English. And it always felt a little less satisfying. But I could never put my finger on it. I have long become used to the fact that Clint Eastwood speaks with the wrong voice, so that's not it.
As I now see very little detail, I tend only to watch films that I know and rely on my memory for the visuals, and I dug it out tonight to watch it again. All the way through, as I know the film well, I know that the Stranger is the murdered marshal's brother, but right at the end I suddenly realized that it is never said in the film. How odd! Where the hell did I get that idea from? The Stranger is quite clearly a ghost, or something supernatural, not the marshal's brother.
Wikipedia has the explanation:
Two entirely different films hinging on the very final line spoken! Utterly bizarre!During an interview on Inside the Actors Studio, Eastwood commented that earlier versions of the script made the Stranger the dead marshal's brother. He favored a less explicit and more supernatural interpretation, however, and excised the reference, although the Italian, Spanish, French and German dubbings restore it.
There now follows the mandatory, self-indulgent digression:
As far as dubbing is concerned, the Germans really do make a very good job of it. And the actors they use generally dub the same original actors. The guy who dubbed all the classic Eastwood movies made a superb job of it. Same sort of laconic drawl. The guy who dubs Bruce Willis, on the other hand, has a deep, gravelly voice. Super for the macho Die Hard stuff. I was gobsmacked to find that Bruce Willis squawks like a budgerigar in real life!
Years ago, when I used to drive to work in Munich, I was listening to the local news and heard an ad for a provincial furniture store. Not a big chain, just a provincial furniture store. And somehow, they had managed to pay Gerard Depardieu to do it for them. Amazing! It was weeks later that it dawned on me that they had afforded the guy that dubs Depardieu. If it was deliberate, it was inspired.