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The Outlaw Josey Wales [Blu-ray Book]
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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Clint Eastwood's 31st film as an actor, 20th as international star, and 5th as director, was the first to win him widespread respect. Critics had grumbled when the producer-star replaced Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff) in the director's chair a week into shooting. They ended up cheering when Eastwood delivered both his most sympathetic performance to date and--with the heroic collaboration of cinematographer Bruce Surtees--an impressive Panavision epic that stresses the scruffiness, rather than the scenic splendors, of frontier life.
Though it's been honored with a place in the National Film Registry, Josey Wales is good, not great, Eastwood. The big-gun fetishism can get tiresome, and too many characters exist only to serve as six-gun (and at one point Gatling gun) fodder. But mostly the film is agreeably eccentric, and almost furtively sweet in spirit--a key transitional title in the Eastwood filmography, and one of his most entertaining. --Richard T. Jameson
Clint Eastwood fired the original director, Philip Kaufman (The Right Stuff), and took over the reins of this project himself. He may have had a point: this brutal, thoughtful western, a near-tragedy about a Civil War veteran whose past comes looking for him, is probably Eastwood's most mature frontier drama prior to the Oscar winning Unforgiven. Hoping to build a quiet life in a cooperative community of settlers, Eastwood's Wales blames himself when his enemies attack the homestead, and he has to revert to his warrior instincts to help fend off the threat. The jittery intensity of Sondra Locke (who would be Mrs. Eastwood, at least for a while), and the screen-filling charisma of the late Chief Dan George harmonize beautifully with Eastwood, who had finally figured out how to add depth and texture to his stock-in-trade Man of Steel persona. This one may be too short on action to satisfy fans of Eastwood's Dirty Harry films, or of the Italian westerns he made with Sergio Leone, but it's an honorable effort. --David Chute
NEW! Documentary Clint Eastwood’s West, featuring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Oliver Stone, and James Mangold
NEW! Commentary by Richard Schickel
Introduction from Clint Eastwood
Hell Hath No Fury: The Making of The Outlaw Josey Wales
Eastwood in Action Vintage Featurette
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Yet critics at the time completely dismissed it as just another Clint Eastwood Western-Revenge flick. On the surface, the plot might give you that illusion: Missouri farmer Josey Wales loses his family to marauding Union cutthroats during the civil war. In retaliation, he joins Qunatrill's raiders in the guerrilla warfare that flames across Missouri. When the war ends, Wales refuses to surrender. He flies west across the country, chased by his former leader Fletcher (John Vernon in a great, sympathetic performance) and Terrill, the Union captain who murdered his family (Eastwood regular Bill McKinney). It seems Wales has no future except to stay alive long enough to get his revenge.
But...that's not at all what movie ends up being about. Gradually, Wales finds himself at the center of a growing community of outcasts from many different backgrounds: an old Cherokee named Lone Watie (Chief Dan George, in the film's most unforgettable performance), a band of Northern settlers (including Sondra Locke in her first role with Clint), a girl from another Native American tribe, the residents of a dying Texas town, and a red bone hound.Read more ›
If you are a fan of this classic and love blu-ray, upgrade today! Throw out that old DVD and do your eyes (and ears) a favor and get this version. I am still shocked how well this film from 1976 looks! It finally shines!!
I can't believe what I have been missing all these years! Great restoration job.
The film tells the story of a Missouri farmer who, towards the end of the Civil War, finds his home overrun by renegade union soldiers who set fire to his homestead, kill his wife and son, and leave him for dead. After burying his family, he joins a group of confederate guerillas who have suffered similar tragedies. Ultimately, the war ends and their leader brings them in for surrender, except for Josey Wales, who watches their surrender from afar. Good thing he did not join them, as their surrender turns into an execution by the very same men who had pillaged his home and killed his family.
Wales escapes only to be relentlessly hunted down by the very men who had wronged him, as well as by bounty hunters who want that five thousand dollar reward offered for his capture. Wales rides on to escape them, and along his travels acquires a motley entourage whom he befriends and who befriend him. What happens on his journey is classic Eastwood.
Clint Eastwood plays his role as a stoic man of few words, while Chief Dan George is an absolute delight as part of Wales' entourage. The rest of the cast is uniformly excellent. Of course, Sandra Locke, as Eastwood's real life main squeeze at the time, got star billing, even though her role was one of the smaller ones and her performance the least impressive of the supporting cast.
This remains one of the more entertaining films in this genre. It also made Hollywood sit up and take serious notice of Eastwood as a major force in the film industry.
After establishing another remarkable character in Dirty Harry, Clint returns to his western "roots" as the vengeful Josie Wales, in "The Outlaw Josie Wales". This is Clint's 31st film and his fifth as a director. Actually, the film was started with a different director, Philip Kaufman of "The Right Stuff" fame. After numerous and intractable arguments over the interpretation of the film, Clint fired his director a week into shooting and took over directorship himself. We will never know what sort of film Mr. Kaufman would have produced, but Eastwood's final product is a true gem in western filmmaking.
In Eastwood's western trilogy he was known only as "the man with no name", a loner who generously dispensed his form of western justice at the barrel of a gun (or two). There was not much character development. We don't learn what drives the man or what he feels inside. With Josie Wales, Clint plows new ground, as he plumbs the emotions of the vengeful Wales. He builds insights into the character and feelings of Wales, a man with a name AND feelings. This makes the movie more than a mere "shoot 'em up", and adds depth and meaning to the film. Eastwood does much the same and more, with his 1990 blockbuster (and his last western) "Unforgiven", with Oscar results.
Josie Wales can be viewed with interest and pleasure on several different levels. There is of course the "vengeful man" theme that is the movie's backbone.Read more ›
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As of 5-8-09, the price at Deepdiscountdvd is now $7.62. But still, it is less than the $8.99 currently at Amazon. And you don't have to spend $25 to get the free shipping at DDD.
One thing, though. DDD says it is the Full Screen version and Amazon is selling the widescreen version. It may... Read More
May 8, 2009 by R. Simcheck | See all 2 posts
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