The Outlaw Josey Wales

This review is sponsored by


Details At A Glance

Category Western None
Year Released 1976
Running Time
130:19 minutes
(not 97 mins as stated on packaging)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (71:07)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Movie
Region 2,4 Director Clint Eastwood

Warner Home Video
Starring Clint Eastwood
Chief Dan George
Sondra Locke
Bill McKinney
John Vernon
RPI $29.95 Music Jerry Fielding

Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English (Dolby Digital 5.1, 384Kb/s)
French (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192Kb/s)
Italian (Dolby Digital 1.0, 192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision ? Smoking Yes, but mainly chewing tobacco and spitting
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

    I had no preconceptions going in to my review of The Outlaw Josey Wales other than noting that it was a Clint Eastwood Western, and therefore assumed that Clint would be playing a rugged character of few words. Those assumptions were true, but what I was not expecting was that I would enjoy this movie as much as I did. This is really an excellent Western, and one which I can recommend without hesitation to even non-fans of the genre.

    It is actually quite difficult to write a plot synopsis for this movie without giving too much of the story away for those of you that haven't seen the film. This really is a story that you need to watch unfold on-screen for maximum effect. Whilst a lot of events unfold on-screen, it really is more of a study of a series of misfit, oddball and colourful characters.

    The story is set around the time of the end of the American Civil War. Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood)  is a peaceful man, living with his wife and son, until one day the vicious Terrill (Bill McKinney) changes all of that. Terrill burns Josey's house down, abducts his wife and leaves his son to burn to death. Josey swears revenge. He joins a band of Confederate fighters in order to track down Terrill.

    Through a series of extremely violent and unpleasant events, Josey ends up as an outlaw with a very generous bounty on his head, and so goes on the run, leaving a trail of dead bodies scattered behind him. Along the way, he takes time to help those who are less able to defend themselves than he is.

    To say any more than this would be to give too much of the plot away, so I'll leave it there. I'll simply say that this is a strong story which is well-acted (other than Sondra Locke) and which is definitely worth a watch. If you liked Dances With Wolves, you'll definitely like The Outlaw Josey Wales.

Transfer Quality


    Whilst not flawless, this is nevertheless a superb transfer of a 25 year old movie.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. The majority of the movie is quite brightly lit, and there are enormous amounts of fine detail in both the foreground and the background of images at these times. The level of detail able to be resolved by this DVD was actually quite amazing at times, and I was stunned when I got to the end of the movie and noted that it was 25 years old. Having said that, the image does falter in darker, low-lit scenes, when shadow detail really suffers. Darker scenes are few and far between, fortunately, but the really dark scenes are essentially composed of silhouetted figures against a uniformly black background with no detail resolvable. At least the blacks were cleanly black, with no low level noise marring the image.

    The colours were impressively rendered. Whilst I would never describe them as vibrant, they were occasionally at least vivid. The general tone of the movie is towards muted browns and greens, and these are very nicely represented in this transfer. As with the sharpness of the transfer, darker scenes were far less colourful than the mainly brightly-lit scenes. There was never any hint of colour bleed nor oversaturation.

    There were some odd artefacts seen in the backgrounds of images at times, probably MPEG motion compensation artefacts. These were apparent early on in the film, where the backgrounds tended to move in a disjointed fashion, with one block of the background moving before the rest. The moderate amount of wobble in the image during the early part of the transfer probably did not help this situation. These anomalies were subtle, but, once noticed, they grated on me a little.

    Aliasing was a mild problem with this transfer, however, given the level of fine detail in this transfer, I felt that the level of aliasing was acceptable, although if they had sharpened the transfer any further, aliasing would have been a real problem. There was a fair bit of aliasing exhibited by the wooden walls of the trading post at around the 52 minute mark. There was what appeared to be a digital drop out at 107:58, where a ruler-sharp straight white line appears in the image for a single frame.

    Film artefacts were variably present, and tended to come in minor clusters. They only occasionally intruded enough upon the image to be noticeable. There were certainly more of them present than in a more recent movie, but by no means were they overly bothersome. In fact, the print was remarkably clean for its age.

    This DVD is an RSDL-formatted DVD, with the layer change taking place between Chapters 18 and 19, at 71:07. This was only mildly disruptive to the flow of the movie.

    It is worth specifically noting the packaging error on this DVD. The old Snapper casing artwork correctly gave the running time as 130 minutes. The new Amaray casing artwork incorrectly gives the running time as 97 minutes. Oops. You win some, you lose some.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is an extremely impressive remix from what was presumably a monophonic original.

    There are three audio tracks on this DVD; English Dolby Digital 5.1, French mono and Italian mono. I listened to the English soundtrack only.

    Dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times, save for the odd mumbled line from Clint Eastwood. There was, however, a slightly dated and frequency-limited sound to the dialogue at times which gave away hints to its age. Occasional distortion could be heard affecting the dialogue.

    There were no audio sync problems.

    The music is by Jerry Fielding. I cannot say that I am familiar with this composer's work at all, but I can say that the score he has crafted for this movie is exemplary, other than the somewhat clichéd theme for the mid-Western town which Josey visits towards the middle of the movie. Other than this minor let-down, the score is nicely effective in creating atmosphere and tension at all the appropriate moments, without ever unduly calling attention to itself.

    The surround channels were used superbly by this soundtrack, and are a credit to whoever mixed them. Much of this movie takes place in outdoor settings, and there is almost constant subtle activity from the rear channels, convincingly creating an immersive soundfield. Musical ambience is also mixed into the surrounds, which helps to soften the otherwise very wide frontal soundfield created by the music. The various gunfights also utilize the surrounds effectively, placing you right in the midst of the action with gunshots ringing all around you.

    The subwoofer channel is used surprisingly aggressively by this soundtrack to emphasize gunshots, cannon-fire, hoofbeats and music. I found it pleasingly effective, but some may find it a little over-the-top. There is undoubtedly more subwoofer activity here than you would expect for this type of material.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    There are no extras on this disc.


R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this DVD misses out on;     There is nothing compelling here to favour one version over the other.


    I thought The Outlaw Josey Wales was a superb Western, presented immaculately on DVD considering its age. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Michael Demtschyna (read my bio)
8th March 2001

Review Equipment
DVD Denon DVD-3300, using RGB output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the RGB input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Denon AVD-1000 DTS AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials and the NTSC DVD version of The Ultimate DVD Demo Disc.
Amplification EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifier for Left & Right Front; Marantz MA6100 125W per channel monoblock amplifiers for Left & Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Hsu Research TN-1220HO Subwoofer