The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)

(On Cable TV, April 2017) I am apparently not a very good audience for westerns because I spent most of The Outlaw Josey Wales bored out of my mind, waiting for the next thing to happen. Granted, this is the kind of film where this reaction is understandable: structured in episodes, the film follows our eponymous hero (played by Clint Eastwood) as he seeks revenge for the murder of his family. Stuff happens, then stuff happens and then more stuff happens in episodes that feel almost disconnected until the third act finally brings them together. It’s a familiar story, told adequately. The ending does make the overall film better, but it feels interminable until then. This being said, this is one of those movies worth looking up on Wikipedia, because the behind-the-scenes drama involves Clint Eastwood taking over directing from Philip Kaufman (leading to the DGA’s “Eastwood Rule” forbidding actors from firing directors) intertwined with a burgeoning relationships between Eastwood and co-star Sondra Locke that would span the decades and create a number of scandals along the way. The point being: The Outlaw Josey Wales is a key movie in Eastwood’s life and filmography, and it’s practically impossible to discuss him without taking a look at his personal life during the shooting of the movie. While the film itself may not be all that compelling today, it’s the price of admission to learn far more than we’d like about Eastwood’s private failings.

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