Urban Cinefile
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The American Civic War has almost ended, and Josey Wales Clint Eastwood) is starting a peaceful new life as a Missouri farmer. The silence breaks when a group of irregular soldiers burn down his house, kill his wife and son, and leave a scar across his face. Josey vows revenge and joins a group of Union rebels, now outlaws because the Confederacy has crumbled, who help him hunt them down and win retribution. Yet Josey's loyalty to them is tested when the newly-founded Union has the rebels swear allegiance to the country, making Josey the west's last outlaw.

Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
Clint Eastwood is an iconic actor and skillful director. He's responsible for two of the most enduring figures in film; merciless cop Dirty Harry and memorable western hero The Man With No Name. Each represents the personification of Eastwood's two passions; Westerns and crime thrillers. And with each film he has added to the genre, until completing reversing the Western archetype in Unforgiven, the singularly brilliant Western of the 1990s (with which he swept the Oscars in 1992).

The Outlaw Josey Wales therefore represents an interesting point in Eastwood's career, with just enough DVD extras to show his progression without going overboard. For instance, this is the film where his character found a name, a heart, and a true purpose - elements which went begging in the spaghetti westerns that made him a star. In his introduction to the film (just his fifth of twenty-three as director), Eastwood admits he put off reading the book Gone to Texas by Cheroke storyteller Forrest Carter because the cover looked awful.

When he finally finished it, he knew it had to become a film with him playing dual roles as star and director. He was still learning as a director then, and this film shows - especially in the 2.35:1 widescreen DVD transfer - that he always had an eye for cinematography. The 5.1 anamorphic audio makes six-shooters scream and horses stampede across the room. And it neatly stays true to the book, thus making the film a bloody, lawless look into American history when states along the Mason/Dixon like Missouri were partially out of the war and gangs of irregular soldiers were raiding from both sides. It's also one of the few films of its time where characters like Lone Watie (Shief Dan George) and Ten Bears (will Sampson) represented not scalping savages but soulful, displaced Native Americans.

The Hell Hath No Fury featurette provides an intelligent insight into the western genre and Eastwood's then-embryonic roles in it. And unlike most DVD featurettes, it doesn't look like an advertorial disguised as a documentary. The DVD could have come with commentary from Eastwood, but otherwise, Warners have done a fine job bringing a classic western to the digital age.

Published December 27, 2001

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STARS: Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney, John
Vernon, Sam Bottoms, Paula Trueman, Geraldine Keams.
DIRECTOR: Clint Eastwood
RUNNING TIME: 131 minutes

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Warner Bros Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: November 1, 2001

Also available: The Enforcer, Magnum Force, The Dead Pool Dirty Harry, Sudden Impact, Out of the Shadows

Interactive menus, Scenes access, Dolby Surround 5.1, Subtitles,"Hell Hath No Fury" making-of Josey Wales, "Eastwood In Action", "Introduction by Clint Eastwood", Cast and Crew biographies, Trailer

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