Combustible Celluloid
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With: Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney, John Vernon, Paula Trueman, Sam Bottoms, Geraldine Keams, Woodrow Parfrey, Joyce Jameson, Sheb Wooley, Royal Dano, Matt Clark, John Verros, Will Sampson, William O'Connell, John Quade, Frank Schofield, Buck Kartalian, Len Lesser, Doug McGrath, John Russell, Charles Tyner, Bruce M. Fischer, John Mitchum
Written by: Philip Kaufman, Sonia Chernus, based on a book by Forrest Carter
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 135
Date: 06/30/1976

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Killer Wales

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Some cinephiles hold Clint Eastwood's Civil War-era Western The Outlaw Josey Wales in equal esteem to Eastwood's Unforgiven, and some even prefer it. It's a powerful, revisionist, revenge Western with many unique touches, but it gets a bit cutesy in its second half as stoic Josey Wales (Eastwood) teams up with a band of quasi-comic misfits to fight the final battle.

Josey is a peaceful farmer whose wife and children are raped and murdered by "Redlegs," or Union soldiers who have let victory go to their heads. Josey joins a band of confederates to get his revenge. After the war, the "Redlegs" give the soldiers a chance to surrender, but instead shoot them all down in cold blood. Josey escapes, reluctantly joins forces with the aforementioned ragtag team. They include the wonderful Chief Dan George, and Sondra Locke as the frail, perpetually dazed Laura Lee; Locke was Eastwood's girlfriend for a time, and she appeared in several of his films, always to their detriment.

The great filmmaker Philip Kaufman was originally slated to direct, but Eastwood fired him for being too slow; Kaufman retains a screenwriting credit. The Outlaw Josey Wales was selected for the National Film Registry in 1996.

In 2011, Warner Home Video released a deluxe Blu-Ray book edition, with several glossy pages as well as a new featurette on Clint Eastwood's Westerns. Richard Schickel provides a commentary track, and there are two other, vintage featurettes.

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