Clint Eastwood directed and starred in the 1976 hit “Outlaw Josey Wales,” an old western growing in popularity on Netflix.
“The Outlaw Josey Wales” was among Eastwood’s best films, among other distinguished works including “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly,” “High Plains Drifter” and “Hang ‘Em High.” AARP ranked it as fourth on its list of top Eastwood films.
Looper recent looked at the old western and its themes that are making the rounds with modern audiences.
The movie comes from a novel by KKK leader and George Wallace speechwriter Forrest Carter. Carter tried to hide his background, but the movie’s success led many to search for the author.
What Is Clint Eastwood’s Movie All About
Clint Eastwood plays Wales, a Missouri farmer who seeks revenge on the Union soldiers who killed his family in the film.
According to The New York Times, “Josey Wales” concerns itself with a hard‐working, family‐loving hero who saddles’ up to ride against the Yankees after Yankee sympathizers burn his home, kill his children and rape his wife.”
Wales fights with a group of Confederate men during the Civil War, and his status as a fierce gunfighter spreads.
After the fighting stops, Union soldiers kill his outlaw friends, but Wales escapes. Wales becomes an outlaw, avoiding those that come at him as he tries to start a new life.
In 1976, the film was a commercial success. It earned $31.8 million ($152 million in today’s 2021 money). The film went on to win an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score. In 1996, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress selected it for preservation.
Wales Is What James Could Have Been
According to J. Dennis Robinson, one SeacoastNH review sees Wales “as what Jesse James could have been, but was unable to become.”
Robinson said Clint Eastwood’s “Wales” has a purpose, lives by his code, and won’t wait around to see what folks think about him. He lives one life and knows everything (his family’s demise) that made him into who he is.
The reviewer notes the outlaw is “robbed of his original family and any hope of future happiness.”
Wales is just seen as a man trying to survive.
In one scene, Clint Eastwood’s character tells a bounty hunter that “dying isn’t much of a living” and urges him to get lost. But the bounty hunter doesn’t heed the words, and Wales “lives to fight another day” killing the man.
In the end, the hero avenges his family and rides off into the sunset.