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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

“Deliver us from the Philistines.”

The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Around the end of the American Civil War (1861–1865) guerrilla warfare ensued between the “Bush­whackers” of Missouri and the “Jay­hawkers” of Kansas. Captain “Red Legs” Terrill (Bill McKinney) led his own gang plundering and pillaging rebel territory, resulting in the slaughter of the family of Missouri dirt farmer Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood) who then picked up a pistol and joined a renegade group to seek retaliation. The group met an untimely end, save for one wounded youth Jamie (Sam Bottoms) whom JW tended on the run, with a price on his head.

As Josey's reputation grows he acquires a ragtag family of the dregs of Indian & White society, and his hankering to start afresh is impeded by his lust for revenge, to say nothing of his WANTED status.


“Outlaw” had a leisurely beginning where we watched Josey in his wide-brimmed farmer's hat and his bony horse plough a field while his son Little Josey cleared it of rocks. We got to contemplate the coverings (hat & rocks.) Later on when Josey acquires an adobe house that can't burn down like the first one, he'll remark on the roof being the weak point where the bad guys might come through, the covering, as it were.

There's a touching moment when Josey pauses in burying Little Josey to cover his loose arm with the blanket. When a couple of hill­billies later get the drop on Josey, they uncover the blanket from off of Jamie who's delirious. When the Coman­cheros raid a party of White folk, they instigate a war­drobe mal­function on the young lady Laura Lee (Sondra Locke) with them. This movie differentiates between the good guys and bad not by the color of their hats but by their respect of coverings.

To Laura Lee's remark, “Kansas was all golden and smelled like sunshine,” Josey Wales replied, “Yeah, well, I always heard there were three kinds of suns in Kansas: sun­shine, sun­flowers, and sons-of-bitches.” That's his poetic way of describing three kinds of people: righteous leaders (sunshine), righteous followers (sunflowers), and ne'er-do-wells (sons of bitches.) Josey Wells turned out to be a good guy leader, with a group of good guy followers, pursued by bad guys.

Josey in his descriptions was not original, not by a long shot. In the Ancient Book of Enoch is described from a vision: (Enoch 89:1,9) “that white bull [Noah] … built a great vessel [ark] and dwelt in it. Three bulls [Ham, Shem, and Japheth] dwelt with him in that vessel that covered them. … that white bull [Noah] … came out of that vessel, and the three bulls with him, and one of the three was white [Shem] like that bull [Noah], and one of them was red [Japheth] as blood, and one was black [Ham].” The vision is consistently color coded where white is the righteous leader, red the righteous follower, and black the not so good one. From Shem came the Semites, like righteous Abraham who was a great leader.

The Bible actually uses the matter of respect of covering to define the good and bad guy. After the Flood there was an incident, Gen. 9:20-22, where Noah got drunk on wine and was exposed in all his glory to his son Ham who brazenly viewed him so. Noah's other two sons, Shem and Japheth, covered him up, Gen. 9:23. Ham had violated him in some way, Gen. 9:24. Noah's curse puts Ham's youngest son Canaan in a position of servitude, Gen. 9:25. Noah's other two sons Shem, Gen. 9:26, and Japheth, Gen. 9:27, were blessed by Noah. Writer Bodie Hodge (134) quotes “Bible Questions and Answers,” The Golden Age (July 24, 1929): p. 702.

Question: Is there anything in the Bible that reveals the origin of the Negro?

Answer: It is generally believed that the curse which Noah pronounced upon Canaan was the origin of the Black race. Certain it is that when Noah said, “Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be to his brethren,” he pictured the future of the Colored race.

This movie was based on a novel by Forrest (aka Asa) Carter titled Gone To Texas. He used a pseudonym to hide the fact that he'd been the speech writer for Gov. George Wallace of Alabama, an ardent segre­gation­ist. The import of this movie seems to be that the federal government, i.e. the Union, gets it wrong and is not to be trusted. This particular emphasis in this western makes eminent sense once we consider the pedigree of the original author, to say nothing of the biblical material he echoes.

Production Values

The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976) was directed by Clint Eastwood. The screen­play was written by Philip (Phil) Kaufman and Sonia Chernus. It stars Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke (Eastwood's real life girl­friend), and Chief Dan George. The acting through­out the film was well done, especially Eastwood's. Chief Dan George playing the Cherokee Lone Watie couldn't remember his lines, so he just told stories that were enter­taining in their own right. The film was rated PG. It runs 2¼ hours. It moves slowly to a major finale, with out­standing cinema­tog­raphy, performances, costuming, acting, story, and sets.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is kind of a brooding man's western where we hope for some kind of resolution for a hurting hombre who starts with nothing to lose but ends up in a rewarding social circle anyway. Great western vistas punctuated with sudden violence. Lots of spitting.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability for children: Suitable for children. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Johnson, Ken, Th.D. Ancient Book of Enoch. USA, 2012. Print.