“I’ve done more living in the past two weeks than I did in the last six years.”
When an ex-convict (Peter Fonda) accidentally shoots a country-western star (James Callahan) who has stolen his song, he goes on the lam with a sympathetic singer (Susan Saint James) who hopes to make him a star.
Much like Alan Rudolph’s Songwriter (1984), this comedic sleeper exposes the surprisingly cut-throat underbelly of the country-western scene, in which hit songs are truly a hot commodity, and unscrupulous wolves are eager to take advantage of “naive” talent wherever they can find it. In Outlaw Blues, Peter Fonda’s renegade actions ultimately lead him to folk hero status in the eyes of Austin’s liberal-minded music lovers; we root for him as well, because he’s so clearly been wronged on every level. Unfortunately, the story itself is rather implausible — would Callahan really be so dumb as to steal someone else’s song when it was recorded in front of countless witnesses? — and Callahan (much like Richard Sarafian’s unscrupulous agent in Songwriter) is frustratingly one-note; in addition, the numerous chase scenes become rather tiresome (look for evidence of Roger Ebert’s ubiquitous Fruit Cart Rule). But Susan Saint James is charmingly feisty as Fonda’s partner-in-crime, and director Richard Heffron makes good use of diverse locales in Austin and surrounding areas. The film’s overall air of infectious lightheartedness makes it worth a look, once, if you’re interested.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Susan Saint James as Tina
- Fine use of authentic Texas locales
No, but it’s a pleasant enough diversion. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.