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In the course of his long career, actor/director Clint Eastwood has made a series of iconic westerns, which culminated with his Oscar winning UNFORGIVEN. While it may lack some of the attributes that made UNFORGIVEN Oscar worthy, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is no less iconic than that film, and remains one of Eastwood’s best and most entertaining westerns. In THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES ($35) Clint Eastwood portrays the title character, a simple farmer who witnesses the massacre of his family, at the hands of guerilla fighters on the side of the Union army during the Civil War. Taking up the gun, Josey Wales joins a group of pro-Confederate Missouri guerrillas and seeks vengeance against those responsible for killing his wife and son. After the war, Josey Wales refuses to surrender to the Union forces, despite a promise of amnesty. However, that promise of amnesty turns out to be a lie, which results the execution of the other Missouri guerrillas. Of course, Josey Wales turns the table on the Union soldiers and for his trouble becomes a hunted man. In ironic fashion, Josey Wales finds himself pursued by those responsible for the death of his family. In addition to Eastwood, the cast of THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES also includes Chief Dan George, Sondra Locke, Bill McKinney, John Vernon, Paula Trueman, Sam Bottoms, Geraldine Keams, Woodrow Parfrey, Joyce Jameson, Sheb Wooley, Royal Dano, Matt Clark, John Verros and Will Sampson.

Warner Home Video has made THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is impressive and makes the most of Bruce Surtees’ beautiful, naturalistic cinematography. Image sharpness and detail are generally quite strong and don’t appear compromised by digital manipulation. Fine details and textures are excellently rendered, especially in close-ups. There are some moments that appear a bit softer than others, but there is nothing here that stands out as a flaw. Colors are nicely saturated and reproduced in a rock solid fashion. In addition, flesh tones come across in a natural manner. Blacks are pure, as are the whites, plus the contrast is very smooth. Shadow detail is relatively strong, even when natural lighting is dominant. The elements from which THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES has been mastered are quite clean. A grain structure is noticeable throughout the presentation, which enhances the filmic quality of the Blu-ray.

THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. Considering that THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is now thirty-five years old, the sound elements have been nicely reworked into the modern lossless format. The mix takes advantage of the entire soundstage and proves quite directional. Environmental sounds are well integrated, as are gunshots, cannon fire and hoof beats. As this is a lossless format, the musical quality of Jerry Fielding’s score has been nicely enhanced. Additionally, the track has a very solid bottom end that adds weight to the on-screen action. Voices are cleanly reproduced and English language dialogue maintains complete intelligibility. French and Spanish Dolby Digital monaural tracks are also encoded onto the disc. Subtitles are available in English, French and Spanish.

The interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with film critic/historian Richard Schickel. Featurettes and other programs include the following: Clint Eastwood's West (twenty nine minutes), Hell Hath No Fury: The Making Of The Outlaw Josey Wales (thirty minutes) and Eastwood In Action (eight minutes). A Theatrical Trailer closes out the supplements. THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES features book styled packaging that contains thirty-six pages of photos and production notes.

THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES is another in the series of great, iconic westerns to feature actor/director Clint Eastwood. The Blu-ray edition is excellent and a worthy upgrade for Eastwood fans. Highly recommended.


The Outlaw Josey Wales (Blu-ray Book Packaging)


DVD & Blu-ray Disc reviews are Copyright 2011 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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