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The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976) - Plot Summary Poster

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Summaries

  • Josey Wales makes his way west after the Civil War, determined to live a useful and helpful life. He joins up with a group of settlers who need the protection that a man as tough and experienced as he is can provide. Unfortunately, the past has a way of catching up with you, and Josey is a wanted man.

  • Josey Wales is a Southerner whose entire family were killed by a sadistic Union officer. He joins a band of guerrilla fighters who manage to avoid being captured. After the end of the war, they refuse to surrender, but their leader, Fletcher, negotiates a surrender allowing his men amnesty. Josey, however, refuses to join them. After his men arrive, they're executed. But when they learn that Josey is still out there, they order him hunted down and the man they send to get him is the man who killed his family. He eventually runs into a group of settlers and helps them get settled and negotiates a peaceful co-existence with the Indians. But he has a price on his head and every bounty hunter is out of get it.

  • Josey Wales is a simple peasant with a peaceful life, but after his family is brutally murdered during the Civil War he becomes a Confederate soldier in order to revenge his wife and son. As the Civil War ends Josey refuses to surrender unlike most of his comrades. So Josey begins an outlaw life escaping from bounty hunters, Comanches and even an old comrade in his path towards his original aim: vengeance

  • Josey Wales is a peaceful farmer in the days near the end of the Civil War. After his home is burned and his family murdered, he hardens into a human bullet - dedicated to destroying the renegades who took his "life." He joins a band of unreconstructed rebel guerilla fighters who continue to fight the Union - even after the official surrender of the Confederacy - an action which makes them, legally, outlaws. Josey is driven by vengeance, but after a while, that's not enough. Back before his own personal Holocaust, he had been a builder - of home, family, farm, and life. And no matter how much ice he's wrapped himself in, down inside there's still the soul of a living man. While Wales exists, he's pulled by this hidden yearning to Live. Each day offers him chances to remember, to assuage his yearning, to begin again. And the movie shows us how Josey Wales - a mere seeker of vengeance - learns to live again, rededicated to the values he chose so long ago.

  • A Missouri farmer joins a Confederate guerrilla unit and winds up on the run from the Union soldiers who murdered his family.


Spoilers

The synopsis below may give away important plot points.

Synopsis

  • Josey Wales, a Missouri farmer, is driven to revenge by the murder of his wife and son by a band of pro-Union Jayhawkers - Senator James H. Lane's Redlegs from Kansas.

    Wales joins a group of pro-Confederate Missouri Bushwhackers led by William T. Anderson. At the conclusion of the war, Captain Fletcher persuades the guerrillas to surrender, saying they have been granted amnesty. Wales refuses to surrender. As a result, he and one young man are the only survivors when Captain Terrill's Redlegs massacre the surrendering men. Wales intervenes and guns down several Redlegs with a Gatling gun.

    Senator Lane puts a $5,000 bounty on Wales, who is now on the run from Union militia and bounty hunters. Along the way, despite wishing to be left alone, he accumulates a diverse group of companions. They include an old Cherokee named Lone Watie, a young Navajo woman, and an elderly woman from Kansas and her granddaughter 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.

    At the bar in Santa Rio, a wounded Wales finds Fletcher with two Texas Rangers. The locals at the bar, who refer to Wales as "Mr. Wilson," tell the Rangers that Wales was killed in a shoot-out in Monterrey, Mexico. The Rangers accept this story and move on. 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.

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