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The Outlaw Josey Wales

review by Zach B.

 

Rated: PG

Running Time: 135 minutes

Starring: Clint Eastwood, Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney and John Vernon

Screenplay by: Phil Kaufman and Sonia Chernus
Based upon the novel "The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales" by: Forrest Carter

Directed by: Clint Eastwood

 

Studio: Warner Bros.

Retail Price: $19.98

Features: Production Notes, Theatrical Trailers

Specs: 2.35:1 Widescreen, 1.33:1 Standard, English Dolby Digital 5.1, French Mono, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, English Closed Captions, Scene Index (35 Scenes)

Released: March 30th, 1999

 

 

Clint Eastwood stars in one of his own directing triumphs, that being "The Outlaw Josey Wales." The film follows Josey Wales (Eastwood), a farmer who's home is destroyed and son and wife are murdered (this is all within the first five minutes). With nothing left, Josey joins a group of fighters who still plan to fight the Union, even if the Confederacy has surrended. Josey's motive is purely revenge for those who destroyed his life, but it's because of the past which haunts him and his own values is what ultimatly drives him to more danger.

I personally think this is one of Clint Eastwood's best directorial outings ever. This was his fifth time behind the camera, and Eastwood does excellent work here. The film runs over two hours, but werks and moves at a breakneck pace, honing all there is to the key characters and the story. Eastwood also stages some nice dramatic tension and action scenes with a whole gung-ho feeling, let alone how he establishes the story right at the start is pure genius. Notice at the beginning that little dialogue is used, it's all action and emotion, and so much more is conveyed without the use of words. Eastwood, who is responsible for that, gives off the mark of a great director.

The screenplay by Phil Kaufman and Sonia Chernus is a real triumph. I've never read the book the material is based on, but the duo's screenplay encompasses a lot of character, a lot of action and a lot of human elements as well as emotion to it against the revenge setting and western backdrops. Everything is nicely setup and developed throughout, be it the motives or the characters themselves. There is also some strong dialogue here, and I found the story, its parallels and deep layers to it quite appealing.

The performances here are quite nice too. Eastwood plays a gruff man with a fairly good heart to the max, and we know he's good at that. Chief Dan George, Bill McKinney and John Vernon, as well as the ever reliable Sondra Locke, roll out good performances to boot. The cinematography is also quite nice, given us fine shots of the Western landscape that bring us back into the 1860s, with nice touches and much flair. There are some lovely and emotional shots in this film and it shows. All in all, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" is not your standard action revenge movie, for its main strength isn't the bawdiness of the characters or its action packed ways, but rather, our central character who must come to realize that things happen in life that we don't want, and once in our time we must start again anew. There is pure emotion to this film and key themes that give it the weight it deserves. Don't miss it.

 

 

Presented in 2.35:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 full frame, the film looks pretty sharp for most of the scenes, with good detail and fine color saturation, but others are just plain bad. Some scenes have washed out colors, are incredibly grainy and are poured down with pieces of dirt, scratches and blemishes. Overall, this transfer is a mix. Some scenes look quite, others aren't up to that level.

 

"The Outlaw Josey Wales" also has a new Dolby Digital 5.1 remix, which sounds pretty spectacular if I say so myself. All the sound elements seem to be intact for this remastered 5.1 track. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, and is not overpowered by the other sound elements. The patriotic music sounds particuarly nice through the channels, while deep bass is provided through the sound effects. And there are plenty of those: explosions, gunshots, horses galloping, horses neighing, fires and much more. It packs a very nice punch and lifts the track up very well. Overall, the 5.1 remix has very solid dynamics. Also included is English closed captioning, English subtitles and French subtitles.

 

Some Production Notes and a LOAD of Theatrical Trailers.

 

One of Clint Eastwood's greatest triumphs, "The Outlaw Josey Wales" is one of the best cinematic Westerns in my opinion that I feel everyone should see at least once. With a great 5.1 remix, a decent transfer and nice extras, this is a fine release of a very good film.