Well, howdy, folks! I’m glad to see everyone’s havin’ a rootin’ tootin’ good time even these days, especially after you all watched last week’s Blast From the Past, “Pirates of the Caribbean!” This week’s film is brought to you by the man who made me such a lover of cinema, my very own father! That’s right. This week is a suggested film. Who thought that was possible?
Movie: “The Outlaw Josey Wales” (1976)
Oh boy! Get ready because this is not going to be your typical Blast from the Past. Indeed this is the first recommended film in this column so who knows what I’ll say. Mainly, because for all its amazing moments, “The Outlaw Josey Wales” has some drawbacks to it.
The plot follows the life of Josey Wales(played by Clint Eastwood, who also directed the film), a farmer from Missouri living during the Civil War. When a group of “hell-raising” Union marauders come and kill his family and burn his farm down, Josey joins a confederate guerilla movement to vengefully kill as many Union soldiers as he can. As the war draws to a close all, he surrenders with all his fellow troops dying in a double-cross. The very same men that killed his family are now after him. He runs to the West, picking up a motley crew of people with nowhere else to go before finally settling in Texas and facing his past.
The film is certainly not without merit. Just looking at the long list of praise many critics gave it will tell you that. Roger Ebert, for instance, gave it three stars and praised both Eastwood and Chief Dan George for their characters and acting. It’s also on the Library of Congress’s National Film Registry, and in Steven Schneider’s “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.”
So what makes this film so highly praised? Well, for one, Clint Eastwood is perfectly cast in the role of the quiet closed off wanderer Josey Wales, a man who’s lost everything. He’s closed off, and yet as the film goes on, he continues to collect and protect those who are also alone in the world. He’s a character with a dark past and still a noble heart, a hard character to play, but one Eastwood excelled at playing.
Wale’s sidekick, Lone Watie, is also a stand-out in the film. Played by poet and actor Chief Dan George, he gives a witty and fun performance that some critics even attest stole the show from Eastwood. He pokes fun at Wales, and holds his own in the story, standing out in a film in a positive way.
Now, Hollywood, and more specifically westerns in general, have in the past tended to be less than fair in their representation of Native Americans. It’s a sad but true fact that films will often Native Americans as the stereotypical villains or morph many tribe’s customs and dress into a weird amalgamation for lack of caring about its history. “The Outlaw Josey Wales” manages to avoid this.
Now, its portrayal isn’t perfect, of course, and it still tends to put Native Americans into the two Hollywood categories of “noble” or “savage,” but it still lends dignity and nuance to its characters. Lone Watie is a character with a backstory and personality, equal at times to Josey Wales. He stands as comedic relief, but the film never laughs at him, only with him. Indeed even the potential “savage” stereotype Ten Bear is treated respectfully by the film and Wales for the most part. The two characters stand opposite each other and recognize the other’s honesty and battle prowess before agreeing to live in harmony. It’s a refreshing change and a start towards equal representation if the western genre ever returns.
The atmosphere and action scene are another superb part of the film. Shot well and timed even better, they’re filled with tension at times and blood-pumping moments at others. Eastwood knows how to film himself looking bad-ass at times, and it shows in this film.
That being said, this film does suffer some negatives, namely the length. Filmed almost as an odyssey of sorts, the film starts to drag towards the middle and end. I’m not ashamed to say that I couldn’t watch it in one sitting because I needed a break.
Ultimately, “The Outlaw Josey Wales” is a film about a man learning to let go of his past, no matter how painful it may be. He gets to settle down and even finds a new family. More importantly, he learns that violence isn’t always the answer, and eventually, you have to hang up your guns and live in harmony with one another. For a western, that’s a marvel lesson, and the film earns it, it’s something even today people can learn from.
“The Outlaw Josey Wales” is a classic western that even manages to rise a bit above the traditional pitfalls of representation and stereotypes others of its genre fall into. The action is excellent, Eastwood is excellent, and while you might want to take a snack break or an intermission in the middle, the story is excellent. Give it a short and “yee-haw” into the sunset!
TV Show: “Cops” (1989 – present)
Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna go? Whatcha gonna do when they come for you? Yes, of course, I have the theme song stuck in my head, and by now, so do you. Again I’m breaking the rules here because “Cops” is still on the air, but again, it’s my column!
“Cops” is the first reality tv show I’ve featured on Blast from the Past, and it’s definitely not because I’m running out of television programs to cover. Absolutely not! Not at all.
In all seriousness, “Cops” is a show that is surprisingly fun to binge. It’s even more fun to watch with your phone in your hands, browsing the internet or writing a Blast From the Pasts on your laptop. It has a nice ebb and flow of excitement that allows for passive viewing, something important for a lot of phone addicts or people who like to have some background noise while they work.
“Cops” follow the moments of the men and women of law enforcement throughout their shifts as they pull over drug dealers, drug dealers, and more drug dealers. Sometimes they even catch a car thief or a high-speed car racer. If you’ve ever wanted to know how to act incredibly suspicious while a cop pulls you over, this is the show to learn from.
The sheer dumb nature of some criminal will have you rolling on the ground, while others you might feel sorry for. No matter though, they’re all in trouble in one form or another. Marvel at how often people try to lie to the cops or hide drugs in the middle compartment of a car, and how it never works.
“Cops” is a show with action, drama, thrills, and chills all at the same time. If you want a more realistic view, there’s always “Live PD,” its sister-program, does the same thing as “Cops” but in real-time. That way, it can be the same stuff, just much less editing and more drawn-out stories. Give ’em a shot!