The Outlaw Josey Wales
After avenging his family’s brutal murder, Wales is on the lam, pursued by a pack of killers. He travels alone, but a ragtag group of outcasts (including Sondra Locke and Chief Dan George) is drawn to him – and Wales can’t leave his motley surrogate family unprotected. Eastwood’s skills behind and in front of the camera connected with audiences for its humor and tenderness as well as its hair-trigger action.
As The Outlaw Josey Wales, four-time Academy Award-winner Clint Eastwood is ideally cast as a hard-hitting, fast-drawing loner, recalling his “Man with No Name” from his European Westerns. But unlike that other mythic outlaw, Josey Wales has a name – and a heart. I am a big Clint Eastwood fan. My first experience with him was in the Spaghetti Westerns which I first caught in reruns on TV. The quintessential cowboy he redefined the genre by introducing audiences to a new kind of hero, one that wasn’t adverse to bending and breaking the rules if necessary. He was as cool as he was ruthless but never acted without provocation. I was a young teenager the first time I saw Josey Wales. I remember not being very taken with it at the time. I think I was expecting something closer to the Sergio Leone films and this wasn’t it. The character felt too dark and I didn’t fully appreciate the scope of the narrative. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I came to see what a truly good film it is. I love the action, the subtle humor and the superbly drawn characters. Eastwood is at his best both in front of and behind the camera.
No time is wasted during the film’s 136 minute runtime which seems to fly by. There are so many classic lines and memorable moments. Among my favorites: “Shoot ‘em now Abe shoot em now” “shut up Lige” (the entire scene is just too perfect), “Are you gonna pull those pistols are whistle Dixie?” followed by “How did you know who would shoot first?” (love the answer), “How does it work on stains?” Josey and Ten Bears, The showdown in the trading post, Grandma Sarah in the general store, The shootout at the ranch. That is just to name a few. The supporting cast, Chief Dan George, Sam Bottoms, Bill McKinney, Geraldine Keams, John Vernon, Paula Trueman, and Will Sampson are excellent. You would be hard pressed to find a genre fan that didn’t rank The Outlaw Josey Wales near to top of their favorites list. It is a classic western that belongs on the shelf of every serious film enthusiast. I have owned it on home video for years and am thrilled to now own it on Blu-ray.
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
The Outlaw Josey Wales comes to Blu-ray via 1080p AVC encoded video that is framed in its original 2.40:1 aspect. It features image quality that is clearly a step above any previous home video release and offers an appreciable level of refinement and defining resolution that results in a pleasing high definition experience. Close ups generally offer plenty of textural nuance which makes it easy to discern the subtle complexional structure in the faces of the actors as well as visible delineation in the clothing and objects within the frame. The rewarding cinematography with its beautiful vista views of the open expanses as supported by the natural light of day offer varying levels of delineation and depth that predominantly look great. Clarity and sharpness during low level sequences shot at night or in uneven light can be inconsistent and range from fair to below average. Colors appear natural with a limited range that is primarily consists of earth tones combined with various shades of blue and red that are rendered beautifully in high definition. Flesh tones are warm with supple texture and lifelike quality. Contrast is spot on and consistent throughout the presentation. Black levels are slightly elevated but stable which results in good not great looking scenes that contain mixed light/dark content. The sequences filmed at night don’t offer deep defining blacks or unlimited dimensional perspective however they exhibit ample dynamic range and fair image penetration. Grain is intact and never rises to an objectionable level during scenes containing ample light. This is the best that I have ever seen this film look on home video. Video = 86
The soundtrack recording showed its age a bit but the DTS-HD Master Audio multi-channel mix maximized its potential. The front three channels carried the bulk of the sound and spread it evenly between them. Imaging was quite good as dialogue, panning effects and directional spacing was right on target within the soundstage. The surround channels were used sparingly for splashes of ambience that served to broaden the soundfield but rarely generated an enveloping atmosphere. Some of the effects such as gunfire sound a bit dated but I wouldn’t describe it as sounding unsubstantial. Clarity and fine detail were notable which gives lesser sounds within the mix good audibility and articulated refinement. I would say that this high resolution audio presentation improves upon the original lossy Dolby Digital version found on the DVD and sounds quite good. 78
New bonus content features Clint Eastwood’s West, an extensive new documentary filled with reflections about Josey Wales’ characters, favorite scenes, discussion of the western genre and Eastwood’s legacy. Eastwood and other notables who worked with or influenced the actor/director are included: Morgan Freeman, James Mangold, Kevin Costner, Frank Darabont, John Lee Hancock, Joel Cox and more. Also new is film commentary from Richard Schickel – the film critic, documentary filmmaker and movie historian who last year produced The Eastwood Factor, the feature length documentary about Eastwood’s life and career.
- Blu-ray Digibook/keepcase containing photos, trivia, production details and a bio/filmography on Clint Eastwood.
- Introduction by Clint Eastwood
- Behind the story:
- (HD) Clint Eastwood’s west (New) - 29 minute documentary
- Hell hath no fury: The making of The outlaw Josey Wales (1999) - 30 minute documentary
- Eastwood in action (1976) – 8 minute featurette
- (New) Commentary by Richard Schickel
- Theatrical trailer
Blu-ray Disc release Date: June 7, 2011
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