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The Outlaw Jose Wales (1976): the film that spawned two bad things for Client Eastwood: Sandra Locke and the Director’s Guild’s new legislation, known as “the Clint Eastwood Rule.”

I don’t like westerns that much.  There are exceptions of course—Eastwood’s the Man With No Name series, the Wild Bunch and a couple of others but that is really about it.  Then there is the Outlaw Josey Wales, a western that is near the top of that genre’s food chain in my book.  Eastwood directed part of the film (the initial director Phillip Kaufman was fired) and starred as the Outlaw Josey Wales (as well as his son playing a small role) along with soon to be longtime lover Sandra Locke (a big mistake there)—but more on that later.

The Outlaw Josey Wales was an adaptation of Forrest Carter’s 1973 novel The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales (republished, as shown in the movie’s opening credits, as Gone to Texas).


The story is about Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer, who is driven to revenge for the murder of his wife and son by a band of pro-Union Jayhawkers—Senator Lane’s Redlegs from Kansas.  Seeking revenge Wales joins a guerilla group of pro-Confederate Missouri Bushwhackers.  Being on the losing side, when it is all over the group is promised amnesty.  But Wales was not in the war for the politics, but revenge, and not having succeeded he refuses to surrender.  Luckily Wales avoids a trap in which his compatriots are massacred by the same bunch that killed his family.

Well this puts Wales on the run from Union militia and bounty hunters.  Along the way, despite wishing to be left alone, he accumulates a rag-tag group of followers including an old Cherokee named Lone Watie, a young Navajo woman, and an elderly woman from Kansas and her granddaughter (Sandra Locke) whom Wales rescued from Comancheros.


In Texas, Wales and his companions are cornered in a ranch house which is fortified to withstand Indian raids.  The Redlegs attack but are gunned down by the defenders. Wales, despite being out of ammunition, pursues the fleeing Captain Terrill on horseback.  When he catches him, Wales dry fires his pistols through all twenty–four empty chambers before stabbing Terrill with his own cavalry sword.


Wounded and recovering at the bar in Santa Rio, Wales finds Fletcher with two Texas Rangers.  The locals at the bar successfully hide his identity and convince the Rangers that Wales died in Monterrey, Mexico.  Fletcher pretends he does not recognize Wales, and says that he will go to Mexico and look for Wales himself.  Seeing the blood dripping on Wales’s boot, Fletcher says that he will give Wales the first move, because he “owes him that.” Wales rides off.


This is a great film that had some not so great long term consequences for Eastwood.  First, the film began a close relationship between Eastwood and Locke that would last six films and the beginning of a romance going into the late 1980’s.  This relationship would cause some serious headaches later for Eastwood eventually resulting in a lawsuit that ended up in my law school contracts casebook.  In 1995, Locke sued Eastwood for fraud, alleging that he had paid Warner Bros. to keep her out of work since the studio had rejected all of the 30 or more projects she proposed, and never assigned her to direct any of their in-house projects (maybe they just sucked).  In 1996, just minutes before a jury was to render a verdict in Locke’s favor, Eastwood agreed to settle for an undisclosed amount.  The outcome of the case, Locke said, sent a “loud and clear” message to Hollywood “that people cannot get away with whatever they want to just because they’re powerful.”  This case appears in law school textbooks as an example of breaching the implied duty of good faith in every contract.  In my opinion, she deserved nothing because I think all palimony cases are nonsense (palimony was the underlying basis for her claims).


The second unflattering item for Eastwood that came out of this great film occurred when, on October 24, 1975, Kaufman was fired at Eastwood’s command by producer Bob Daley.  This caused an outrage amongst the Directors Guild of America and other important Hollywood executives, since the director had already worked hard on the film, including completing all of the pre-production work.  Heavy pressure was put on Warner Brothers and Eastwood to back down, but their refusal to do so resulted in a $60,000 fine (a fair amount of money in the mid-seventies).  This led to the Director’s Guild passing new legislation, known as ‘the Clint Eastwood Rule’ in which they reserved the right to impose a major fine on a producer for discharging a director and replacing that director with himself.

Besides these two unflattering matters that arose out of the film, the Outlaw Josey Wales is some of Eastwood’s best work.  It combines some of his “man with no name” characteristics with a more complete human being—though never taking the mystique out of Wales.  The movie also has some very funny scenes in it, an unusual trait found in most westerns.  Though long, the Outlaw Josey Wales gets a worth-the-time-to-watch thumbs up from me.


Next time a-to-be-determined film I hate.


Posted by on February 5, 2014 in Movie Reviews


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We take a look at Once Upon A Time In China

My new partner in crime at and I have decided to collaborate on some of the finest Asian movies we’ve seen and give you, the reader, our thoughts on these films so you can make an informed decision on whether to view them or not.  Also, if you have seen any of the movies we decide to collaborate on we would love to hear your comments on the matter.  Again, this is one in a series we are going to do together so stay tuned for some great Asian movie reviews from two movie connoisseurs.

China has had a very tumultuous history, including hundreds of years of civil war, a humiliating defeat in the opium war and a bloody occupation by Japan.  It was during the dark times between the opium war and the Japanese occupation that a Chinese folk hero, physician and martial arts expert was to emerge — Wong Fei-hung (1847-1924).  Wong Fei-hung, a legendary figure, would, among other things, later inspire his countrymen to endure even bigger ordeals in the last century.  The legend of Wong Fei-hung has also inspired dozens of films.  In my opinion the best is Once Upon a Time In China, a 1991 Hong Kong kung-fu epic directed by Tsui Hark.  This film had five sequels and was among the first to introduce Jet Li as its main star to Western audiences.  Li as Wong Fei-hung provides the viewer with a fine performance especially given that role was played very early in his career.

The plot:  On the surface the movie seems simple enough, as my colleague said, almost Shaw Brothers simple, but in reality the story is very complex and transcends the many martial arts films whose plots can easily be summed up in a single sentence.  Wong Fei-Hung, like his countrymen, is forced to endure the humiliation of American slavers, local gangs, a renegade martial arts master and even his own wayward (but well-intentioned) students.  As if these problems were not enough, he has to contend with his growing affection for Aunt Yee (Rosamund Kwan) which is important as to movie is set around the end of the 19th century when there were great social changes in China.  This is typified with his relationship with his “Aunt” Yee (who is not related to him by blood), as she would be taboo to marry.  The fact that this is a series of films allows the relationship to develop slowly also setting it apart from many Hong Kong films where romances are very fast-moving and unrealistic.

The action sequences are superb, which is unsurprising considering that they are choreographed by Yuen Woo-Ping, though dim-witted critics who can find fault in anything point to the wire-work and use of doubles.  The final showdown is a stunning success of editing as Jet Li was injured and had to be doubled for many of the shots that weren’t above the waist, but his extraordinary  fist techniques make up for this.  The film has a long running time for a martial arts movies so for once there is plenty of time for story and action.

Hong Kong movies don’t come much better than this.  Anyone who is a fan of wire-work and/or the likes of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon should hold this movie in high esteem—either that or they are a communist.  I could not agree more with my new partner in crime at Silver Emulsion.  You must check out his take on Once Upon a Time In China at — you would be a fool not to.


Posted by on April 25, 2010 in Movie Reviews


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