Title: The Outlaw Josey Wales
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
Written by: Forrest Carter (book)
Philip Kauffman (screenplay)
Starring: Clint Eastwood as Josey Wales
Chief Dan George as Lone Waite
Sondra Locke as Laura Lee
John Vernon as Fletcher
Tagline: …an army of one.
By: Efferdent Johnson
Growing up in a small town the options for entertainment were few and far between. Watching tractors endlessly at work back and forth through fields of potatoes, barley or wheat was a spectator sport for the residents of my backwater hometown. Blessed as we were with an abundance of amusements, the frosting on the potato chip had to be the local drive-in-theater. During the summer, family outings to the dusty “Movie Manor Drive-in-Theater” were frequent. Back in the days of double features most of my memories are of waking up while on the way home in the back of my father’s pickup truck.
Equipped with a mattress across the bed of the truck and enough pillows and blankets to bed down the family the “comfy factor” was high. In the great outdoors, it made it easier to get into the feel of the film. Jeremiah Johnson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were the best kinds of movies to see at the Movie Manor. I could look up at the screen and see a desert or sagebrush or mountains and look away from the screen and see the same things around me. Add a cool breeze and I was instantly carried into the story.
Of all the movies we went to see at the drive-in, the most memorable is still one of my favorites.
The Outlaw Josey Wales…what a treat for a kid. It felt like I was one of the small caravan that glommed onto Clint as he moved west to a better life. Eastwood, in my young mind, was the toughest, coolest badass in history. Clint made the Marlboro Man look like a pussy. As a kid, all I understood was that Clint was always in the right, always justified. If Josey killed someone well that scumbag had it comin’. I wanted to be just like him.
What kid didn’t want to have a wise old American Indian as a sidekick? Not only was he wise but he was funny. “You’re not supposed to be able to sneak up on an Indian.” He was old, tough, clever and even gets laid. What a great sidekick. Josey though was the man, the myth, the spittin legend of all time in my young mind.
Josey would spit and wield two six shooters like they were natural extensions of his arms. He had a mean dog that always had his back and a horse that never got tired. The greatest thing about being at the drive-in – every time Josey would spit I would crane my head over the side of the truck and do the same thing. Josey, though, wasn’t admonished by his mom and so I had to be careful to pick my opportunities.
I do remember being a little confused through the movie. I had not seen a movie in which the Union Army were the bad guys. The boys in blue were always the good guys. I struggled, only briefly, with this odd turn. I guess in its way the movie taught me that good is good, bad is bad and some of both live in all of us.
On the surface, the movie was perfect for me as an 8-year-old kid – lots of action and a story easy enough for my pre-teen brain to grasp. Eastwood was great. Grunt, spit, shoot then turn and walk away. I wanted so much to do the same thing. “Jeff, take out the trash,” Mom would say. “Urrrr.. me hungry,” then spit on the house cat and a quick spitball right into my little brother’s ear. I’d pull my hat down a little tighter and walk off into sunset with trash bag in hand and a brother and mother in tow.
Listen to Efferdent’s return down that dusty below or download it here.