The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976)





The Outlaw Josey Wales is a Civil War film based on the novel by Forrest Carter called The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales, focusing on guerrilla warfare in Missouri. The film begins with the murder of a Missouri man’s family by rogue Union soldiers. Seeking revenge, Josey Wales chooses to join a Confederate guerilla group. Unwilling to surrender even after the end of the war, Wales becomes an outlaw pursued by both bounty hunters and former Union soldiers.

The Outlaw Josey Wales was released in 1976, amidst the antiwar sentiment generated by the Vietnam War. The movie also promotes the Lost Cause Mythology by demonizing the Union forces and offering a “states’ rights” interpretation of the war’s causes.

Clint Eastwood received wide acclaim for his role as Josey Wales. Both Eastwood and the film itself received glowing reviews from critics of the 70’s and continues to receive positive reviews today. It has been put in National Film Registry due to its cultural significance. Despite having been made after the golden age of Westerns had ended, it is considered to be one of the best examples of the genre.




Michael Fellman, Inside war: the guerrilla conflict in Missouri during the American Civil War, New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Joseph M. Beilein and Matthew C. Hulbert, Inside War: The Guerrilla Conflict in Missouri During the American Civil War, Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2015.

Daniel Sutherland, Guerrillas, Unionists, and Violence and the Confederate Home Front. Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1999.


Erika Elce, “’Dyin’ Ain’t Much of a Livin”: The Ethics of Rebellion in The Outlaw Josey Wales,”
English studies in Canada 42, no. 3-4 (2016).

Robert Sickles, “A Politically Correct Ethan Edwards: Clint Eastwoods The Outlaw Josey Wales,” Journal of Popular Film & Television 30, no. 4 (Winter 2003).

Joseph Lowndes, “Unstable Antistatism: The Left, the Right and The Outlaw Josey Wales,” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society 16, no. 2 (December 2002).

Film Reviews

Roger Ebert, “The Outlaw Josey Wales Film Review,” Roger Ebert, January 1, 1976.

Richard Eder, “Movie Review: The Outlaw Josey Wales,” New York Times, August 5, 1976.

Andre Dellamorte, “The Outlaw Josey Wales Blu-Ray Review,” Collider, July 2, 2011.



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