Wednesday, October 1, 2014

608. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Running Time: 135 minutes
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: Sonia Chernus, Philip Kaufman, from the novel Gone To Texas by Forrest Carter
Main Cast: Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney, John Vernon
Click here to view the trailer


So the whole "let's do our own things on Tuesdays" agreement between my wife and I seems to have been a success, as I managed to watch more movies in one day (yesterday) as I've been averaging in one week lately. As my beloved Pittsburgh Pirates fight for their life on the screen behind me, I bring you the second of a two part salute to Clint Eastwood - The Outlaw Josey Wales.

The film begins with Josey Wales' (Eastwood) family being murdered by a band of Union soldiers, as they set fire to his home. He buries his son and wife and weeps by their grave sides as a band of Confederates ride along and he winds up traveling with them. Through the opening credits we see victories by Josey Wales and his new friends the Confederacy, however, as the movie gets underway, their Captain Fletcher (Vernon) tells them that it's time to surrender, just as all other bands of Confederates have. With the exception of Josey Wales, the rest of his brothers in arms head to a Union base where they plan to wave the proverbial white flag and call it a defeat. However, it turns out that Fletcher has betrayed his brothers and has pledged his allegiance to the Union, as they open fire on the newly surrendered Confederate band, killing many. Josey Wales, still up in the hills, hears the commotion and manages to come to their aid - except he's too late and really only manages to save one kid. However, in the process he takes out a slew of Union men and becomes a fugitive from justice - an outlaw, if you will. Now, he's on the run from Captain Fletcher and other powerful men including Captain Terrill Redlegs (McKinney). As he runs, Wales gains infamy by the day, becoming notorious as a fast handed gunfighter and his legend follows him, growing all the way.

Oy vey, where to begin? I mean, it's pretty much the same movie as High Plains Drifter isn't it? I mean, you have the exact same Eastwood: a gruff, no nonsense, badass, man of few words who gains reputation as a cooler than cool gunfighter who kills many. I mean sure, here we're talking Civil War and there we were just talking random old west, but it's TOmato/TAmato. Let's just suffice it to say that I didn't like this one either. In fact, while I didn't have much problem putting up with High Plains Drifter, this one was actually a little more difficult to endure and now that it's done, I'm glad to have it behind me. It all started out quite harmless: a good ol' fugitive story - who can't get behind that? You had Eastwood and this kid running from Fletcher and Terrill and it was a fine film, as Eastwood obviously knew how to play the part and John Vernon was pretty good too (that voice that commands attention). However, once we started adding in the Indian characters and the others, including Sondra Locke's Laura Lee, it became too muddled and ultimately lost me. By the time we hit the ninety minute mark I was tapping out and ready to call it a night at the movies.

I can't decide whether I hate Eastwood the director or Eastwood the westerner with no name. I'm pretty sure it's the latter, as it seems like Eastwood really phoned these roles in, plus I'm no western fanatic to begin with. I mean, would it have killed him to differentiate these characters a little bit? It was the same old song & dance. You could argue that just like audiences forty years earlier had paid to see Fred & Ginger sing & dance, they also paid to see Eastwood don a five o'clock shadow & a duster and be gunfighter. But it just isn't working for this reviewer. Sure, I loved it when Leone was behind the director's chair and coaching Eastwood to a career making performance in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, but here (and with High Plains Drifter) it just seemed like Eastwood was just going through the motions. How either of these pictures that I've reviewed in the past two days got the acclaim that they did is beyond me and honestly, I'm glad to be done with them.

RATING: 4/10  I'll go '4' just because, but honestly, that'll probably lower with more reflection. I was hoping that this little Eastwood double shot was going to be something that added a bit more value to my upcoming TOP 20, but it was a total bust.


October 1, 2014  8:28pm


  1. Well, as you put it.. You say TOmato.. and I (also) say TOmato.. so lets call the whole thing on?
    Oh yawn. And even more so than High plains. I'd forgotten this rather forgettable one was in the book.. I've seen better of the type..
    (I suspect Larry way be out there with a TAmato to through at us?).

    1. So we're agreed again. That seems to be happening a lot lately!

      Yeah, this was no good. More Westerns on the horizon though...


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