"You gonna pull those pistols or whistle 'Dixie''"
- Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) to four skittish Union soldiers
"When I get to liking someone, they ain't around long."--Josey Wales "I noticed when you get to disliking someone, they ain't around for long neither!"
- Lone Watie (Chief Dan George)
"You a bounty hunter'"--Josey Wales "Man's gotta do somethin' for a living these days."
- Bounty hunter (John Chandler)
"Dying ain't much of a living, boy."
"I guess we all died a little in that damn war."
- Josey Wales to Fletcher (John Vernon)
As the film opens, Josey Wales is a simple farmer in Missouri. When a vicious band of Union Red Legs, led by Terrill (Bill McKinney), burns his home to the ground, killing his wife and son, Wales joins a gang of Confederate raiders, determined to get revenge. After the Confederacy loses the war, Wales sets out on his own, an outlaw who kills to survive. He eventually meets an old Indian (Chief Dan George, in a wonderfully sympathetic performance) and some other outcasts, and together they seek out a more peaceful existence. But Terrill continues to hunt Wales, and the simple farmer is forced to fight again. Critics did not take Clint Eastwood's THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES seriously in 1976. Today, many consider it one of the greatest Westerns ever made. Here the West is an ugly and brutal place, as it is in Sergio Leone's films, but this is a different kind of Eastwood hero. He has a name, a sense of humor, and a heart. Made in the shadow of Vietnam and Watergate, the film conveys a bitter distrust of government but also a longing to live in peace. Next to UNFORGIVEN, this is the most sweeping and emotionally complex of Eastwood's Westerns.
Josey Wales will never forget the day his entire family was slaughtered...and now the once-peaceful farmer is going to wander the West making sure he gets revenge on all those responsible for the murders.
Civil War |
Theatrical Release |
The film was shot in Arizona, Utah, and California.
Producer Clint Eastwood originally hired Philip Kaufman (THE RIGHT STUFF) to polish the script and direct the film. Kaufman's deliberate style of filmmaking grated on the ultraefficient Eastwood, and shortly after filming began, he fired Kaufman and took over. Kaufman didn't direct another film for three years, and the Director's Guild of America thereafter instituted a rule that a member could not be replaced by anyone who was already working in any capacity on the film in question.
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1996.
Forrest Carter, who wrote the novel the film was based on and sent it to Clint Eastwood, was later discovered to be Asa Carter, a former member of the KKK and speechwriter for George Wallace. Carter also wrote the novel THE EDUCATION OF LITTLE TREE.
THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES was Eastwood's first of many collaborations with several actors, including Sondra Locke (six films), Bill McKinney (six films), and Doug McGrath (five films).
Cissy Wellman, who plays Josey's wife, is the daughter of director William Wellman.
Will Sampson, who plays Ten Bears, is best known for playing the Chief in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST.
Len Lesser (Abe) later had a recurring role as Uncle Leo on the TV series SEINFELD.
Orson Welles, in an appearance on theMERV GRIFFIN SHOW, said of THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, "When I saw that picture for the fourth time, I realized that it belongs with the great Westerns. You know, the great Westerns of Ford and Hawks and people like that."