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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

PG  |   |  Western  |  30 June 1976 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 47,440 users  
Reviews: 182 user | 70 critic

A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.



(book), (screenplay) (as Phil Kaufman) , 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Paula Trueman ...
Sheb Wooley ...
Kelly (as Matt Clarke)
John Verros ...


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 <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


...an army of one.




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





| |

Release Date:

30 June 1976 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wells  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$3,700,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Philip Kaufman started to direct the film but was replaced by Clint Eastwood, a controversial move which prompted the DGA to institute a ban on any current cast or crew member replacing the director on a film - a rule which has ever since been titled the "Eastwood rule." According to Eastwood biographer Marc Eliot part of the acrimony between the two married men was a result of both asking female lead Sondra Locke out to dinner on the same night. See more »


Near the end, after the old lady comments about freeloaders from Kansas, a camera shadow is seen when a guy falls off his horse in the last shoot out. See more »


[first lines]
Josey's wife: Little Josey! C'mon in, let's get you cleaned up!
See more »


Referenced in Duck Dynasty: Here Lizard, Lizard (2013) See more »


(I Wish I Was In) Dixie's Land
Written by Daniel Decatur Emmett
Performed by William O'Connell
See more »

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User Reviews

One of the finest westerns
21 March 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

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.

88 of 108 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Favorite scene? cmk78250
Opening scene fails to connect? ilBuono
On a scale of 1 to 10, how well do you think this film has aged? AbdulBenHassan
What is Your Favorite Part of the Movie? IamTenBears
Why do the Redlegs let Josie live at the beginning of the film? ronfar623
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