After outlaw leader Ben Wade is captured in a small town, his gang continue to threaten. Small-time rancher Dan Evans is persuaded to take Wade in secret to the nearest town with a railway ... See full summary »
Josey Wales makes his way west after the Civil War, determined to live a useful and helpful life. He joins up with a group of settlers who need the protection that a man as tough and experienced as he is can provide. Unfortunately, the past has a way of catching up with you, and Josey is a wanted man. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Josey's two main handguns are Colt Walker 1847 Dragoon revolvers. They each hold six .44 caliber ball shots. The weapon features larger cylinder chambers to allow more powder to be placed in the gun, making them more powerful (thus, why it was so popular 20 years later). The Walker Colt's one drawback was the weakness in the cylinder walls. If one broke, the whole weapon would blow up. This is referenced in Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven (1992). See more »
A Gatling gun holds either 20 or 50 rounds, but Josey fires way more, not to mention the soldiers before him. See more »
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is a wonderful story about a wounded man, Josey Wales, a Missourian who has lost his home and his family to the Civil War. As the Civil War ends in defeat and despair for the South, Wales alone of his guerrilla unit refuses to surrender. He has nothing left to live for, except to fight, and he cannot give that up.
This is a setup that has appeared many times in the movies, as the hero with nothing left to lose is a perfect excuse to show nonstop gunplay. To some extent, this happens in THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES too. It is an action western according to the classic formula, but it is more than that. Josey Wales heals his wounds as the story goes on, and begins to replace the friendship, and then the love, that he has lost. And as he heals, he begins to grow out of violence as a way of life. Many westerns have the theme of the older breed of man who tamed the west by violence being abandoned by his fellows; only this one, so far as I know, has the older breed of man abandon himself, that is to say, change his ways with the changing of the times.
Clint Eastwood is a decent actor, not a great one. But at times he has shown the skills of a really first-class director, and given his limitations as an actor it is the more to his credit that he did not hog the stage. He gives plenty of screen time to an excellent supporting cast, of whom the most memorable is Chief Dan George as aged Cherokee warrior Lone Watie, a role he plays with an eerily perfect balance of dignity and humor. Will Sampson makes an unforgettable cameo as Comanche chief Ten Bears, and Paula Trueman is a magnificently feisty Sarah.
John Vernon plays Fletcher, the man who betrays Josey Wales early on. I don't understand why Vernon could not find work in quality movies after this (he has appeared in 38 cinema releases since this movie and I challenge you to name any of them). Vernon has one of THE great basso-profundo voices in American cinema; only James Earl Jones could compare to it. If mountains could speak, they would sound like John Vernon. His role is a neat twist on the trope of the 'reluctant hero'; Fletcher is a reluctant villain.
The ending of THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is the most beautiful and poetic of any in western movie history, maybe the most beautiful of any movie ever. According to the rules of the genre, the final confrontation between Wales and Fletcher can have only one outcome; the movie finds another way, because Josey Wales has found another way.
Rating: ***½ out of ****.
Recommendation: Western fans should own this one, but any movie fan should enjoy it.
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