Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Outlaw Josey Wales. A-

Comparisons with other Westerns is not a hard thing to find when watching films of the genre, seeing as the stories can only go so far. But 'The Outlaw Josey Wales,' though not entirely original, is pretty close to it, and definitely one of the great Westerns from Clint Eastwood, who stars, and, as usual, directs. Set in the Civil War, Eastwood plays Josey Wales, a father who witnesses his wife and boy get murdered by a group of vicious 'red leg' Jayhawkers. He then joins a group of Confederate bushwhackers who eventually surrender and join the Yankees. Wales opts not to join them, and sets off on his own, knowing that he will be pursued and killed if caught. His name becomes well known throughout the west because a large reward is offered to anyone who catches him. He is also pursued by his former boss, Fletcher (John Vernon) and the group who murdered his family. Along the, Wales meets a group of so called 'misfits,' who help him. This is a terrific Western thanks to, as usual, Eastwood. He brings his trademark facial expressions, quick hand, and smart dialogue to make this one of the more memorable Westerns in recent memory. This isn't a perfect movie. It is a little long, and sometimes his travel mates get a bit annoying. However, there is so much else to love, especially the end of the movie, that any real flaws can be forgiven. There are two lines that Eastwood uses that I found particularly great. The first is his 'plumb-mad dog mean,' speech, and the second is when he is talking to the dame played by Sondra Locke (a frequent collaborator with Eastwood). She is talking about the sun in Kansas, and Eastwood replies: "As far as I know, there are three kinds of suns in Kansas: Sunshine, sunflowers, and sons a b**ches." Does it get much better than that?

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