Cast: Clint Eastwood (Josey Wales), Chief Dan George (Lone Watie), John Vernon (Fletcher), Will Sampson (Ten Bears), Sam Bottoms (Jamie)
Director: Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven, Mystic River) Honestly, if I have to list all his directing accomplishments, I'll have no room to write a review
Plot: Without giving anything away, the film is about an anti-hero at the tail end of the Civil War. Josey Wales has nothing left to lose as he tries to elude capture from a man he considered a friend. Along the way, Josey (an efficient and remorseless killer) gains some company (I'm reluctant to label them as "friends") and tries to be alone to finally be at peace and let his past go.
Why you should watch it: Simply put, this is one of the top five westerns of all time. I hesitate to even call it a western; maybe more of a mid-western. The film was made in the 1970s (released in 1976), which I still consider the last great decade of old Hollywood and the big studios. The idea of the anti-hero was relatively new, and Eastwood's Josey Wales is a cold-blooded killer, plain and simple. The film blends the stark and harrowing finality of the Civil War, and informs the viewer that the war didn't end at the treaty table for everyone. Some people kept fighting, and Wales was one of them. Eastwood has played the loner before (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, High Plains Drifter), but he brings a new, almost detached-humanity to this particular character. He is supported by Chief Dan George, who started acting when he was 59, in the role of Lone Watie. John Vernon (the devilish Dean Wormer from Animal House) plays Fletcher, a once-ally of Josey's who now must chase him to an uncertain end. Will Sampson ("Chief" from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest) is quietly menacing as Ten Bears, the Comanche chief who parlays with Josey on the battlefield. The supporting players fit very well in their roles, and the viewer never gets the feeling that Josey Wales is softening as he gains "friends." It's never forgotten that he's a loner and a killer. Believe me, it's supremely evident throughout the movie's entirety. Honestly, the only downside to this entire film is the presence of Sondra Locke, who couldn't act her way out of a wet paper bag. She's just fucking awful in everything, this film included. I understand why she's here (she and Clint were an item at the time), but her role could've been filled by somebody with a little more talent. However, that's not enough to take away from this film. The Outlaw Josey Wales is the type of film that I'll watch every single time it's on TV or even if I just want to pop the disc in. Do yourself a favor and watch this again.
Availability: DVD, Blu Ray, Streaming, free on Youtube