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Home Theater Movie Renter's Guide - July, 2011

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"The Outlaw Josey Wales" (Blu-ray) - Reviewed by Jim Milton

movie-july-2011-wales

Synopsis

The Outlaw Josey Wales chronicles the hero's violent journey westward after the Civil War. With fresh memories of his family's slaughter by Red Leg soldier Terrill (Bill McKinney), Confederate Josey Wales (Eastwood) refuses to join his captain Fletcher (John Vernon) and the rest of his comrades in surrender to a U.S. Army regiment. Deemed a dangerous outlaw after a bloody one-man battle with that regiment, Josey is pursued by U.S. cavalry soldiers led by the unwilling Fletcher and the murderous Terrill, as well as by bounty hunters who eventually learn how coolly lethal Wales can be. A skillfully violent man of few, well-chosen words, Josey Wales resembles Eastwood's previous Western heroes in Sergio Leone's trilogy, A Fistful of Dollars (1964), For a Few Dollars More (1965), and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (1966).

Specifications

  • Warner Home Video
  • 2011, Color, Rated PG-13, 2 Hr 15 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Codec: MEPG 4
  • 1080p
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Starring: Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke, Chief Dan George
  • Directed by Clint Eastwood
Rating
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: Yes
  • Language: Mild

Commentary

Critics initiallly disliked this film when it came out in 1976. Over time, this film has been viewed by some to be the best Western ever set to celluloid. The film portrays the West as a pretty tough place, similar to the West of the Sergio Leone's films and it does have a Leone "feel" to it. This time, however, Eastwood plays a different kind of hero. Besides actually having a name in this film, he also has a sense of humor and a conscience. Made during the time when Watergate was expolding onto the media scene, this film reflects a natural distrust of government, but also a desire to live in peace. Next to Unforgiven, this is certainly one of the most sweeping and emotionally complex of Eastwood's Westerns. Even Eastwood considered it one of his best films. Who am I to argue?

Technical

This is a very clean transfer that exhibits lots of details and bold, solid colors. The mono soundtrack has been remixed into 5.1 and has plenty of musical sweep with lots of ambiance in the surrounds. The cannons boom during the Civil War sequences and the gunshots ring out with realism. Only a few scenes exhibits softness and a few campfire scenes exhibit black crush and slightly thickening of film grain. Overall, a sharp and vibrant look that is vastly superior to the SD version, particularly the colorful and sweeping outdoor vistas. Fleshtones are natural and the colors are consistently stable. The high resolution reveals Wales' scar to be fake and blood has an artificial look, but the illusions are not spoiled by the detailed appearance. I never noticed any dirt or specks on the print. Kudos to Warner for this fine looking 35th anniversary transfer!

Extras

Audio commentary by Richard Schickel (new), Clint Eastwood's West: documentary featuring Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Oliver Stone, and James Mangold, Hell Hath No Fury: The Making of The Outlaw Josey Wales, Eastwood in Action & a Trailer.