One of Clint Eastwood’s more enjoyable westerns, THE OUTLAW JOSIE WALES serves almost as a precursor to his darker masterpiece THE UNFORGIVEN. This tale of revenge and redemption has a hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell would certainly approve of.
During the waning years of the Civil War, Josie’s (Clint Eastwood) wife and child are murdered by a marauding pack of Union soldiers. Joining a band of confederates, Josey and his comrades are soon subjugated when the war comes to an end. But he refuses to surrender.
Heading out into the wild, he’s pursued by a pack of Union militia as well as bounty hunters at every corner. Wanting to be on his own, he unfortunately can’t help getting caught up in the troubles of others that he comes across on his travels.
Soon he becomes the protector of a wayward group of displaced travelers and realizes that maybe he has forged a new home without realizing it. But with people he cares about at risk, he must first put an end to the men who still hunt him.
The movie is quant and at times feels like it could be an episode of RAWHIDE, but that’s no slight on the film itself as the story and characters are engaging and memorable. It’s also vast in the expanse of the narrative, dealing with issues of war and the plight of the American Indian.
Speaking of which, there are great performances from Native American Actors Chief Dan George as Josey’s main travelling companion Lone Watie and Will Sampson as the Comanche leader Ten Bears.
If you’re a fan of westerns, than THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is a MUST SEE MOVIE. It has everything you could want from the genre and is one of Eastwood’s best as an Actor and Director.
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES (1976)