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WESTERN

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

Duration2h 15m
RatingsUK: 18, USA: PG,  
Source of storyA book by “Forest Carter” a pen name for Asa Earl Carter.
DirectorClint Eastwood
Writers/ScriptPhil Kaufman, Sonia Chernus
StarringClint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney, John Vernon, Sam Bottoms, Sheb Wooley, 
RatingsIMDb: 7.8 by 66,823 people.  Rotten Tomatoes: 90% by 41 reviewers .

Elevator Pitch: Missouri farmer is caught in an attack by Union marauders during the Civil War, and his wife and son are killed. Thirsting for revenge he joins a Confederate guerrilla group who, at the end of the war surrender to Union troops, but are traitorously killed except for Josey and a another young man. They go on the run, chased by the Union Redlegs. The young man dies but Josey carries on, aiming to get to Mexico, now also potential prey to bounty hunters due to the price in his head. Although he intends to travel alone, he gradually collects a group of travellers, most of whom he has saved from death in the lawless badlands of the southern states. Will they all survive?

Content: There is a bit of non-revelatory sex, and the slightly controversial scene involving the almost rape of Laura Lee, where much of her clothing is ripped off by Comancheros, before Josey rescues her. Initially the marauders attack Josey’s farm, killing his wife and daughter, so setting him on the trail of revenge. There are many scenes of Josey being confronted by gunmen who are almost invariably killed, and rumours of his death are discounted since apparently only five men were put up against him. He collects his followers by killing people who are oppressing them, typically a young Navajo who is about to be raped by some trappers. 

A View: This film was well liked by the critics and the general public and made a lot of money. It was selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry in 1996 who considered it to be “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. You could consider the fact that the Union, the guys who were fighting to abolish slavery, were the villains and the Confederates were the goodies, but probably it is best to enjoy the action, the atmosphere and the American scenery. Even if you re not a Clint Eastwood fan, probably worth a couple of hours of your time.

Additional Info: Phil Kaufman was originally going to direct, but due to disagreements with Clint Eastwood about the tone of the movie, and apparently their rivalry for the affections of Sondra Locke, Eastwood sacked him and took over.

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels

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