Cowboy Marathon – The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

note: I know this has been long waiting… expect the final Western Review: True Grit tomorrow people (I promise)

After Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) sees his wife and child murdered by Union soldiers he joins a Confederate Guerilla Unit.  The film rushes through the war and reaches a point where the Confederate Army has lost and their soldiers are told to turn themselves in and surrender. Josey Wales refuses to surrender.  He is then deemed an outlaw and must run for his life from the law.

This film is through and through the typical western.  It shows you a glimpse of a brutal world coming to a peaceful man’s doorstep and gives him a reason to go off killing any and everyone who doesn’t look at him the right way.  It’s easy to mistake a lot of Josey Wales tendencies for a lot of every other character that Clint Eastwood has played in the Wild West, especially that of The Man With No Name from A Fistful of Dollars, but I think that may be more of a typecasting issue rather than a fault of the film.  It’s as if as soon as Clint Eastwood is cast in a western role (even when he is the director) he can’t seem but become the same slightly quick witted character that we know and love.

How this film differs from the over thousand westerns out there, especially the two scores of them which star Eastwood, is pretty much nothing.  You never look at the law men as good guys and you never look at Josey Wales as a bad guy.  He never shoots a man who never had it coming to him and even sometimes he utilizes a little subtlety in how he deals with his enemies.  I’m thinking particularly of the scene with the raft that crosses the river and the operators who know how to please the northerners as well as the southerners.

I could tell you about how Clint decides to comment on a post Civil War America, but it’s been done enough times that you can copy and paste discussions from so many westerns which is basically what Eastwood does here.  After a war filled with killing Josey Wales doesn’t exactly find himself looking for revenge anymore but rather looking to once again leave his life of violence, but it ends up following him across the lands.  We even get a moment of hope late on when we see him basically seem to be resuming his farm life that he had before the war.

In the end it’s a fun action filled western film that brings back the memories of all the greater Eastwood starring westerns but definitely not worth mentioning among the greats.  If you’ve seen on Eastwood western you’ve seen them all, and I think I may just have seen enough of them for now.

IMDB says 7.8/10

Rotten Tomatoes says 97%

I say 7.0/10