The Outlaw Josey Wales (Remastered) (1976)

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Released 20-Nov-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Western Introduction-Clint Eastwood
Listing-Cast & Crew
Featurette-Eastwood In Action
Featurette-Making Of-Hell Hath No Fury
Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1976
Running Time 130:17
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (71:08) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Clint Eastwood
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Clint Eastwood
Chief Dan George
Geraldine Keams
John Vernon
Bill McKinney
Paula Trueman
Sondra Locke
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Jerry Fielding


Video Audio
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
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
German
Romanian
Bulgarian
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes, plus tobacco chewing
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This film has a short introduction by Clint Eastwood. He explains that this is one of his favourite works. I like it too. This is a remastering, so you might expect it to be better than the previous version. Unfortunately, I did not review the previous version, and I don't have a copy to hand, so I cannot comment on that, except to say that if this version is significantly better, then the original must have been rather awful.

    The Outlaw Josey Wales was made in 1976, when Westerns were distinctly out of favour with movie studios. Clint Eastwood convinced the studio to make it, and it succeeded, doing more than a little to resurrect the genre. Even so, this is not a typical Western, for several reasons. Perhaps the most obvious is its treatment of Native Americans - older Westerns (with the notable exception of Little Big Man) treated Native Americans as a natural hazard, like bears and cougars, rather than as people. This film is quite different in that respect - two of its central characters, and one of the more important lesser characters, are Native Americans (and played by real Native Americans), and none of them is a stereotype. One of them never speaks English - it is interesting to see an acknowledgment that not all Native Americans spoke English.

    Clint Eastwood makes the point in his introduction that this film is about war, and the evils that result from it. The war in question here is the American Civil War, and most of the film is set after the war, but dwells on evils that come to pass because of it.

    Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood, unsurprisingly) is a farmer, trying hard to scratch out a living in Missouri. He is neutral. The film opens with him ploughing some stony, unpromising, land. We see his son, and his wife in the distance. Clearly this is a loving family. Then a mob of raiding "redlegs" (they wear dull red gaiters) attack, killing his wife and child, and leaving Josey Wales with a long scar down the right side of his face. Wales buries his family, then starts practicing with a gun. There's a saying: "when you start out for vengeance, dig two graves" - he has just done so, but he put his wife and child into them. A group of men ride up, expressing sympathy by their stance rather than words. The redlegs are fighting for the Union, Wales learns, and so he joins this ramshackle bunch fighting for the Confederacy. The credits roll over scenes of them fighting.

    As you may recall, the Confederacy lost that war. The bunch is offered amnesty if they'll swear allegiance to the Union. All but Josey Wales accept the offer, carried to them by their leader, a man called Fletcher (John Vernon). Josey Wales is declared outlaw, because of his refusal. He must flee, pursued by the very redlegs who killed his family, led by Captain Terrill (Bill McKinney). As he flees, he collects a group of misfits who tag along, even though he doesn't want them. The first is an old Indian (enough of the politically correct "Native American"), called Lone Watie (Chief Dan George - obvious casting!). The second is a young Indian woman called Little Moonlight (Geraldine Keams).

    Josey Wales is an interesting man, with some strong internal conflicts. He is grateful for the simplicity of a gunfight, because it means he can simply react, and he is very good at that. He is driven into situations he doesn't want, where he is protecting innocents - having lost his own family he does not want further responsibility. He is a believable character, and a strong man. He has one unattractive trait: he chews tobacco, and spits the resulting juice (at some interesting targets).

    Despite being made during the Sondra Locke years (a dark period in Clint's career) she doesn't adversely affect the film - her part is small enough that even she can pull it off.

    This story has many elements, including some interesting thoughts on the subject of family, on vengeance, and on forgiveness. It may be cast as a Western, but the themes are universal. You could picture a Star Wars film made with a similar plot.

    Oh, an afterthought: the cover of this new version is part of the Clint Eastwood collection - I like the way these discs have consistent covers - I'm tempted to shelve them together.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is beautifully sharp and clear with excellent shadow detail and no low level noise. There are some occasional touches of grain, though.

    Colour starts off quite muted. During the credits, when we're seeing the battle sequences in the Civil War, the picture is filmed in blue monochrome. Colour picks up from there, and seems to grow as the movie continues. The last hour or so is in full colour. This is an interesting effect, and one I am sure is deliberate, because it parallels the development of Josey Wales' extended "family".

    There are some traces of aliasing, but this is not the predominant artefact. There is no background shimmer at all, which is impressive. The sad thing is the very high level of minor film artefacts - there are constant flecks, blobs, and small hairs. There are larger film artefacts, too - there's a noticeable white fleck in the centre of the screen at 21:17, a white blob at 22:49, a white hair at 30:32, and even scuff marks at 70:09. Much more noticeable is the blue wash that covers the bottom third of the screen at 58:23 (frame 9, to be precise).

    Subtitles are provided in ten languages, plus captions in English and Italian - I checked both the English subtitles and captions. They are white with a black border, making them easy to read. They are accurate and well-timed.

    The disc is single-sided and dual-layered (RSDL-formatted). The layer change is at 71:08, and it's only obvious because the wind stops for a moment - there's no movement on screen at the time; the camera is pointing at blue sky.

    Apart from the film artefacts, this is not a bad transfer. This film deserves better - it deserves a full restoration.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks - the main soundtrack in English Dolby Digital 5.1, and French and Italian in mono. I listened to the English soundtrack.

    Dialogue is easy to understand. Audio sync is perfect. There's no problem at all picking up the moments of wry humour in the script.

    Jerry Fielding has produced a score that is well suited to this film. There are quite a few passages without music, and that feels right. Where there is music, it builds the atmosphere and tension. Nice work.

    The soundtrack offers some directional sound, but the surrounds aren't heavily used for things other than ambience and backing up the score. The subwoofer is used to support the score, and to back up the many gunshots.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The main menu is static and silent, but it is clear and easy to use - that's always good. The picture behind the menu is razor sharp.

Special Introduction by Clint Eastwood (0:44)

    This is another way to show Clint Eastwood's introduction to the film. Given that it is in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced, this makes more sense than having it at the start of the movie - when you're about to watch the movie you are probably set up for 16x9 enhanced viewing.

Cast and Crew

    A single page listing cast and crew - nothing more.

Featurette - Eastwood in Action (7:56)

    A short making of made at the time the film was made. It is interesting to watch. It is in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not 16x9 enhanced. A little grainy, but not bad.

Featurette - Hell Hath No Fury (29:16)

    This is a much more recent making of documentary, made in 1999. The personnel involved are a lot older, and it shows. It provides some interesting information on Eastwood's style of directing, and some insights into how this film has been received over the years since it was made.

Theatrical Trailer (2:11)

    This is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced - it is in excellent condition.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    I do not have the original Region 4 disc, so I cannot compare it to this one, but I gather it offered no extras at all.

    Relative to the Region 1, the Region 4 disc is missing:

    The Region 1 disc is missing:

    The notes are interesting, but the featurettes are more interesting. If you really like trailers, though, you have to prefer the R1.

    There are at least as many film artefacts in the R1 transfer, and it's not as sharp and clear. Direct comparison of the two leads me to recommend the R4, despite its flaws.

Summary

    This is a great film, presented imperfectly on DVD.

    The video quality is flawed by continual film artefacts, but otherwise is quite good.

    The audio quality is rather good.

    The extras are pretty good.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Sunday, March 03, 2002
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left, Centre, Right: Krix Euphonix; Rears: Krix KDX-M; Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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