The Outlaw Josey Wales Release Date: June 7, 2011 Studio: Warner Home Video Packaging/Materials: Single-disc "Digi-Book" Year: 1976 Rating: PG Running Time: 2:15:51 MSRP: $34.99 THE FEATURE SPECIAL FEATURES Video 1080p high definition 2.40:1 Standard definition Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 1.0, German 1.0, Italian 1.0, Castellano 1.0 Stereo Subtitles English SDH, Spanish, French, German SDH, Castellano, Spanish, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish Same The Feature: 4/5 Kansas Redlegs, guerrilla fighters working for the Union Army in the Civil War, have been carving a path of destruction through their neighboring state of Missouri, taking the lives and destroying the property of citizens regardless of their actual sympathies. Lead by the vicious Captain Terrill (Bill McKinney), the Redlegs' latest victim is the farmer Josey Wales (Clint Eastwood), whose wife and young son are killed as part of the marauders' cruel campaign. With nothing left in the world but a desire for vengeance, Wales joins up with the Redlegs' Confederate equivalent in hopes of finally getting to Terrill himself. But the war proves bigger than one man's vendetta as the South surrenders and Wales' fellow guerrillas must decide between turning themselves in or fighting on, even though the odds are hopeless. Wales chooses the latter, still fueled by the heat of his grudge, which seems to make his odds come out better than most. With Terrill and Fletcher (John Vernon), Wales' former leader, in pursuit, Wales makes his way to Texas in hopes of finding refuge in the Comanche Indian Nation. At first it seems he'll be alone on his journey, but he picks up a number of allies including the disaffected Cherokee Lone Watie (Chief Dan George), the resilient Navajo woman Little Moonlight (Geraldine Keams), and victimized Kansas pilgrims Sarah (Paula Truman) and her granddaughter Laura Lee (Sondra Locke). The ragtag band of survivors ultimately gives Wales something more than vengeance to live for - something to actually fight for - restoring to him a sense of family he'd assumed was gone forever. Though Eastwood would not actually deconstruct the Western until his masterpiece, "Unforgiven," in 1992, he notably breaks from form - with both the genre and his "no name" legacy - with the "The Outlaw Josey Wales." Initially it contains all the usual tropes - the character suffers a grievous loss, goes looking for revenge and isolates himself from anyone who might get close. But beginning in the second act things start on another direction as Wales accumulates his band of misfits. With new friends surrounding him, the fight begins to dim for the gunfighter, suggesting not only that the conflict must end at some point, but that fighting - though sometimes a necessity - is ultimately not a person's natural state. As Wales cautions one of his pursuers, "dyin' ain't no way to make a livin'." Such a pacifistic message in a film filled with violence and gun play at times threatens to take the story completely off course, but it helps that Eastwood does provide a proper payoff to what started his character's journey. Though it might seem somewhat perfunctory by that point, there's no questioning the effectiveness of the sequence's execution and direction, providing a glimpse of the master filmmaker Eastwood would eventually become. Video Quality: 4.5/5 The film is accurately framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. The transfer features strong and stable black levels, deep and well saturated colors, and contrast that displays the full range of values with great shadow detail and delineation. Fine detail is likewise excellent and holds up in both wide shots and close ups. Grain appears intact with no noticeable artifacts from excessive digital processing. A few shots look flat or soft, but given the overall consistency of the image it's safe to assume those issues are inherent to the source. Audio Quality: 4/5 Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is detailed, clear and intelligible. Surround activity consisting of directional and environmental effects is balanced and seamless. Bass activity is clean and robust - and even ventures into LFE territory at times. Upper frequencies are similarly clean and crisp - from the crack of pistol fire to the instrumentation in the orchestral score. Special Features: 4.5/5 The highlight of the extras is the new 30-minute examination of Eastwood's work in the Western genre. Vintage items, a making-of documentary, and a new commentary round out the solid special features package. Commentary by Richard Schickel covers the requisite topics of development and production, while providing some insightful analysis. Schickel has done a number of commentaries now, and though some don't care for his sometimes halting speaking style, there's no questioning the man knows his stuff about film and the work of Eastwood specifically. Clint Eastwood's West (29:03, HD) highlights Eastwood's work in the genre, starting with TV's "Rawhide," touching on his big breakthrough in Sergio Leone's Spaghetti Westerns, but ultimately settling on Eastwood's own directorial voice with "High Plains Drifter," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Pale Rider" and finally his masterpiece "Unforgiven." The intriguing piece includes interviews with film critics, directing and acting colleagues and Eastwood himself. Hell Hath No Fury: The Making of The Outlaw Josey Wales (30:29, SD) covers the film's development and production, with interviews of various members of the cast and crew and behind-the-scenes footage from on location. The closing interview with Eastwood includes a humorous description about the qualities of varied brands of chewing tobacco. Produced in 1999. Eastwood in Action (7:55, SD) is a vintage, electronic press kit style behind-the-scenes. Theatrical Trailer (2:16, SD) Collectible Book integrated into the packaging includes numerous production stills, an Eastwood acting and directing filmography and an essay about the film. Recap The Feature: 4/5 Video Quality: 4.5/5 Audio Quality: 4/5 Special Features: 4.5/5 Overall Score (not an average): 4.5/5 Warner Home Video turns in an excellent presentation of Eastwood's intriguing departure from his "no name" legacy and the Western genre itself. The extras include a couple new items that prove to be highlights of the package, though it also includes major pieces from past DVD releases. For those adding the title to their collections for the first time or those looking for an upgrade in picture and sound, the Blu-ray edition is an obvious choice.