Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985)

Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985)

“The same thing keeps happening in all these towns.”

When a handsome cowboy (Tom Berenger) shifts out of a serial b&w western and rides into the colorful town of Oakwood Estates, he quickly meets a host of familiar characters: the town drunk (G.W. Bailey), the local prostitute with a heart of gold (Marilu Henner), the top cattle rancher (Andy Griffith), and Griffith’s beautiful daughter (Sela Ward). When Griffith seeks help from the local railroad boss (Fernando Rey) in killing Berenger, Berenger draws on every strength he knows he has a “good guy” cowboy — but the sudden appearance of an equally noble rival (Patrick Wayne) causes him to question his credibility.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Andy Griffith Films
  • Cowboys
  • Ranchers
  • Satires and Spoofs
  • Westerns

This good-natured satire of serial westerns pokes fun at their predictability and formulaic nature — including giving the lead character omniscience about what will happen next at every turn. Unfortunately, while it’s far more enjoyable than the other western-satire released the same year — Paul Bartel’s Lust in the Dust (1985) — it doesn’t quite live up to its potential: we eventually tire of hearing Berenger say, “I knew that would happen”, and some of the ongoing jokes (i.e., Berenger gnawing on a “root” — actually a potato — as a form of old-west drug) fall completely flat. On the other hand, the actors are all invested in their roles (Henner did not deserve her Razzie nomination!), and the location shooting (in Spain) is quite beautiful.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine location shooting in Spain
  • An occasionally amusing parody of Western tropes

Must See?
No, though I think diehard western fans would have fun with it.


One thought on “Rustlers’ Rhapsody (1985)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, though I enjoyed it and wouldn’t agree that “it doesn’t quite live up to its potential” or that any of its humor “fall(s) completely flat”. To me, it doesn’t aim high; it’s content in being a charming homage / parody.

    Its jokes (though some are quite good; my favorite being the consistent suggestions that Griffith is attracted to men – there’s a lot of gay-related jokes) are more on the pleasant side than the hilarious one.

    Western fans will see / hear the nods / tonal references to ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’, ‘High Noon’, ‘Blazing Saddles’, etc., and, of course, in the perfect casting of John Wayne’s son Patrick (as ‘good guy’ Bob Barber).

    It’s hard to argue with a film that is this affectionate (and the cast is certainly having a good time) – though, overall, it’s a little unfortunate that the film is on the mild side. It’s attractive and often nicely detailed in the way it’s produced by the likes of David Giler, Walter Hill, etc.

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