Archive for the ‘Movies, Videos, DVDs’ Category

Willie Nelson making movies in Corpus Christie in 1979

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

photo:  David Wallace
by:  Allison Ehrlich

It was rainy and cold at the beach when the Red-Headed Stranger came to town in 1979.

Willie Nelson, already a music legend, was just starting his movie career when production crews showed up in Corpus Christi to film a few scenes for “Honeysuckle Rose.”

The movie tells the story of touring country singer Buck Bonham, played by Nelson, and the threat to his relationship with his long-suffering wife when his retiring guitarist’s college-age daughter joins the tour and poses a temptation. Dyan Cannon played wife Viv Bonham and Amy Irving portrayed the tempting young Lily Ramsey, with Slim Pickens as her father.

This was only Nelson’s second film, following his one-line debut in “The Electric Horseman” with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford. Nelson — as one would expect — was not your usual movie star.

A Caller article from Dec. 15, 1979, describes the atmosphere during filming at Malaquite Beach at the Padre Island National Seashore as laidback. “Missing were the glittery costumes, glamorous stars and groupies en masse that seem to accompany the filming of a movie.”

Also missing was the moderate weather that was supposed to serve as a stand-in for a sunny Mexican beach. A steady rain fell and temperatures hovered in the low 50s.

The movie isn’t much remembered except by the most loyal fans. At the time, Roger Ebert stated, “the movie is sly and entertaining, but it could have been better. Still, it has its charms, and one is certainly the presence of Willie Nelson himself.”

The crew members would have agreed. At one point the large, red, white and blue bus labeled with “Buck Bonham’s Band” got stuck in the soft sand on the shoulder when Willie was trying to turn it around. As crew members scrambled to help push it out, Nelson jumped out to help get the bus on the road again.

And in fact, “On the Road Again” may be the most memorable thing to come from the movie. The film’s soundtrack was Nelson’s 27th studio album and made it to No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Country Albums. “On the Road Again” also hit No. 1 on the Billboard country chart, No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, won Nelson a Grammy for Best Country Song and was nominated for Best Original Song at the 53rd Academy Awards.

Read article, see more photos here.

Allison Ehrlich is the archive coordinator for the Caller-Times. Contact her at and follow her on Twitter @CallerArchives.

This day in Willie Nelson history: “Where the Hell’s that Gold?” (November 13, 1988)

Monday, November 13th, 2017

He makes his living robbing banks.
She makes hers banking on robbers.

Release date: 13 November 1988

Willie Nelson stars with Jack Elam, and Delta Burke in this move about two outlaws on the run after stealing and hiding a large amount of gold.  The two find themselves travelling through 1895 Mexico on a train full of dynamite as rebels, Apache Indians, Wells Fargo agents, and Federal troops trail them. When they are captured by the Mexican authorities, they scheme to keep their ill-gotten riches with the help of a madam and her prostitutes. Willie Nelson, Jack Elam, Delta Burke star in this rowdy western.

Willie Nelson and Jody Payne

Monday, October 30th, 2017

On The Road Again, (HONEYSUCKLE ROSE) USA 1980, Regie: Jerry Schatzberg, WILLIE NELSON, Key: Country Music, Countrysänger, Gitarre,

Willie Nelson, Actor

Friday, October 20th, 2017

'Wag the Dog' (1997)

New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection5/13

‘Wag the Dog’ (1997)

The prophetic dark comedy Wag the Dog —released in 1997 — was a brilliant film and Nelson was undeniably brilliant in it. Playing ne’er-do-well songwriter Johnny Dean, Nelson helps drive home laughably nationalist sentiments with “found” country nuggets like “I Guard the Canadian Border” and “Good Old Shoe” — the faux old-timey soundtrack to America’s equally fake war with Albania.

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‘Stagecoach’ (1986)

'Stagecoach' (1986)
Courtesy: Everett Collection

This remake of the John Wayne classic was released in May 1986, exactly one year after the Highwaymen’s debut album hit shelves, and it more or less functions as a Western-themed commercial for the chemistry between Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristofferson. They’re not the only country stars here, though. With additional cameos by June Carter, Jessi Colter and David Allan Coe, Stagecoach cracks its whip by focusing on country star power, not necessarily acting ability.

‘Miami Vice’ (1986)

'Miami Vice' (1986)
Universal Television / Courtesy Everett Collection

Nothing evokes words like “dated,” “seminal” or “Lamborghini” quicker than über-sleek Eighties buddy cop series Miami Vice. But Willie Nelson is always Willie Nelson — timeless both in sound and style. Never is that more apparent than in the 1986 Vice episode “El Viejo.” Set against the backdrop of Miami’s fast and furious Reagan Era drug war (and a soundtrack of New Wave synthesizers), Nelson — sporting a cowboy hat, bushy beard, bolo tie and a stoic, thousand-yard-stare — plays Jake Pierson. A rough-hewn retired Texas Ranger who lives on a diet of cat food, the mysterious Pierson helps Crockett and Tubbs take down a Bolivian cocaine kingpin and his goons in a gunfight, taking a bullet in the process. Ever the cowboy, he shuffles off Miami’s mortal coil in death scene worthy of Shane.

‘Red Headed Stranger’ (1986)

'Red Headed Stranger' (1986)
Alive Films/courtesy Everett Collection

Nelson adapted his seminal 1975 album Red Headed Stranger for the big screen, playing the role of Reverend Julian Shay, a preacher who doesn’t exactly practice what he, well, you know. Spurned by his lover, he becomes consumed with settling the score. The film’s Western set, however, has held up better than the movie: Nelson built the entire production on his ranch outside of Austin. Dubbed “Luck, Texas,” the town, with its own saloon, post office and church, has served as a retreat for the singer. Alas, the buildings were damaged during a recent storm, but Nelson has plans to restore and rebuild.

‘Taco Bell Commercial’ (1991)

'Taco Bell Commercial' (1991)
Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Shock Ink

As it turned out, going on the road again, and again, and again… along with auxiliary income from film and TV cameos couldn’t keep the Red Headed Stranger from declaring bankruptcy after the IRS seized his assets for millions in unpaid back taxes in 1990. To make ends meet, in 1991 Nelson became the crackling voice of Taco Bell, singing passionately about the virtues of the steak burrito supremes and the like. Late, great comedian Bill Hicks, in a bit where he famously proclaimed, “Do a commercial, you’re off the artistic roll call,” made an exception for Willie, because his debt to The Man forced him to sell his soul. Overlook lyrics about running to the border to find love and zesty steak melts and, not unlike the Enchirito, the song Nelson croons in the commercial, “The Woman With the Rose Tattoo” is actually kinda good. Willie’s outlaw country comrade Johnny Cash also shilled for Taco Bell in the Nineties. Oh, how things have changed, as aligning with corporate brands has become part and parcel to life as a country star 20 years later.

‘Half Baked’ (1998)

'Half Baked' (1998)
Universal Pictures

Like Marlon Brando as Vito Corleone, Half Baked’s “Historian Smoker” (a.k.a. the “Should’ve Been There Smoker”) is the role Willie Nelson was born to play. In the Nineties cult classic, Thurgood Jenkins (Dave Chappelle) and his stoner buds prevail upon the finest stash of medical marijuana New York City has ever seen, and stumble into the complex world of pot peddling. Willie “Historian Smoker” Nelson, a customer, makes a brief cameo to share a joint with Thurgood and regale him about the good ol’ days of sanctioned pot smoking in the street and unprotected sex. “It wasn’t the thing to do because it was the thing to do, you know? It was the thing to do because it got you high,” the historian says with weed-hazed wisdom. “You cool as shit, mister,” Thurgood replies. Hear, hear!

‘The Simpsons’ (2000)

'The Simpsons' (2000)

Who does America love more: Homer Simpson or Willie Nelson? Sure, famed musicians from Michael Jackson to Mick and Keith to Sonic Youth have made iconic, two-dimensional tour stops in Springfield over the course of their careers, but Nelson shares a kindred connection to Homer J. the rest don’t. Without changing their ways, Homer and Willie each rack up a lifetime of unpredictable, amazing experiences and are loved unconditionally throughout. In “Behind the Laughter” —  a 2000 episode telling the Simpsons’ story in classic VH1 Behind the Music style — Nelson appears as himself (in voice-over form at least), bringing Springfield’s most famous family back together at a fake awards show after the “staggering lows” of fame tear them apart.

‘Monk’ (2002)

'Monk' (2002)
PLACEHOLDER / David Redfern/Redferns

Willie a killer? Say it ain’t so! In the debut season of USA’s detective comedy Monk, Nelson is accused of murdering his manager after discovering he has been pocketing some of his concert earnings. With the Red Headed Stranger seemingly caught red-handed, it’s up to an unconvinced Monk to clear his name. Nelson looks like he’s having fun with the role — he is playing himself after all — and the sly allusions to Willie’s famous pot smoking are inspired. But what really got fans high was Nelson singing a solo version of “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” — with Tony Shalhoub’s Monk backing him up on clarinet.

‘A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All’ (2008)

'A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All' (2008)
Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Nelson traded in his red bandanna for a Lawrence of Arabia headscarf when he appeared on Stephen Colbert’s holiday special. Sure, it was a musical guest shot, but Nelson still had to flex his acting chops while singing the highly irreverent “The Little Dealer Boy” and squaring off with the Christmas-sweatered host. Especially when Colbert taunted him in a high falsetto: “You’re really high/I’m going to tell your savior.” But Nelson was unflappable, singing the three wise men spoof with all the seriousness he regularly brings to “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” or “Forgiving You Was Easy.” Or maybe he was just stoned.

Willie Nelson, Dyan Cannon, Amy Irving, “Honeysuckle Rose”

Saturday, October 14th, 2017

Willie, Dyan Cannon and Amy Irving on the set of Honeysuckle Rose in 1980. #WayBackWednesday

A post shared by Willie Nelson (@willienelsonofficial) on

Friday, September 8th, 2017

Don Meredith’s son working on new movie about his dad, “First Cowboys”

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Michael Meredith was, he says, the child of two nomads, two bohemians. During the late 1960s, when his parents were still married and living in Dallas, their frequent live-in guest was a songwriter named Willie Nelson, who sang a song his dad loved and would later immortalize on Monday Night Football by crooning it comically when the outcome was no longer in doubt. The release of “(Turn Out the Lights) The Party’s Over” also happened 50 years ago.
by:   Michael Branberry

He will tell the story by focusing on his dad, who played from the team’s inception in 1960 through his ninth season, 1968, which also ended in a heartbreaking loss. The elder Meredith suffered devastating injuries, both physical and emotional, that belied his nickname, “Dandy.”

He and his mom lived in Italy and an ashram in India. He dotted the U.S. map, living in Fort Worth (her hometown), Houston and two places his dad lived — Beverly Hills, Calif., and Santa Fe, N.M.

He was, he says, the child of two nomads, two bohemians. During the late 1960s, when his parents were still married and living in Dallas, their frequent live-in guest was a songwriter named Willie Nelson, who sang a song his dad loved and would later immortalize on Monday Night Football by crooning it comically when the outcome was no longer in doubt. The release of “(Turn Out the Lights) The Party’s Over” also happened 50 years ago.

Read article in Dallas News here.  

Willie Nelson featured in “Honky Tonk Heaven”: The Legend of the Broken Spoke

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Broken Spoke Film

We don’t use the term legendary lightly here folks.  Our film features THIS incredible moment between Willie Nelson and songbird Kimmie Rhodes!

George Strait, Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb, Bob Wills, George Jones and Roy Acuff have all been regulars on stage at the world famous honky tonk, Broken Spoke. With fifty years under its belt buckle “the last of the true Texas dance halls” has endured rapid urban growth and skyrocketing rents due to the passion and hard work of its charismatic, tenacious owners.

More than a history of who played and when at this landmark venue, this documentary reveals a universal story about what it takes to maintain a family business in our increasingly corporate-driven society. Interviews include Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Dale Watson, James Hand, Jesse Dayton, the Waco Brothers and Alvin Crow.





Farm Aid Presents: “Homeplace Under Fire”

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017
by: Andrew Amelinckx

Homeplace Under Fire:  The story of the grassroots work of American farm advocates and their 30 year fight to keep family farmers on the land.

About the Film

The Farm Crisis of the 1980s drove hundreds of thousands of family farmers into foreclosure. Yet, out of that crisis arose a legion of farm advocates who refused to stand idly by and watch their way of life be destroyed.

Ordinary Americans taught themselves extraordinary skills. As fellow farmers, farm wives, and rural leaders, they studied laws and regulations, started hotlines, answered farmers’ calls from their kitchen tables, counseled their neighbors, and went toe-to-toe with lenders – giving their all to keep their neighbors on the land.

Homeplace Under Fire celebrates these advocates and their remarkable work. Thousands of farmers are alive and on their land today because of them. As Willie Nelson has said, these advocates are the best of America.

Homeplace Under Fire was directed by Charles D. Thompson, Jr. and produced by Farm Aid in cooperation with the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.

Willie Nelson Music in Movies

Saturday, August 12th, 2017

Willie Nelson is the kind of classic singer you either get tired of and stay away from for a long while or stick by through thick and thin without doubting him for a second. There’s really no middle ground here when you’re a fan of this man. He’s been making hits for longer than a good portion of us have been alive and has been popular for as long as anyone living can remember. Sure he got into some trouble for a while and had to make a comeback, but as of now he’s doing alright and still out doing what he loves to do. For a man to come through that many hardships and still find some joy in the passion that made him what he is today it’s inspiring to note that as bad things got he never let his fans down.

Here are just a few of the movies that have benefited from his songs.

5. The Scientist – The Judge

Robert Downey Jr. plays a successful lawyer whose father has just been convicted of running down a man with his truck. Upon heading home however he’s greeted with a very surly and unfriendly attitude as the tensions between him and his father heat up after years of not speaking to one another. Their issues are eventually put on the table but not completely resolved as he seeks to defend his father no matter how they feel about one another.

4. Midnight Run – Lawless

Lawless is essentially the story of three brothers that run a fairly successful alcohol distribution business in the back woods, far away from where the law sees fit to touch them. When problems begin to arise and their business starts to suffer however they eventually find the need to fight back. The only problem is that their enemies are bringing the big guns, as in hired lawmen and ruthless criminals that will stop at nothing to see them ruined.

3. Hello Walls – Legion

I couldn’t find the clip but I know that this song is used in the scifi film Legion in which God has finally tired of mankind’s wickedness and has sent the hounds of heaven to possess anyone and everyone they can in an attempt to cleanse the world and stop the birth of a young child that can bring humanity back to its senses. The only help that humanity will have until then is the archangel Michael, who has forsaken his place in heaven to protect the child from his heavenly brethren.

2. Good ol Boys – Dukes of Hazzard

What’s so great about this is that Willie actually starred in the remake of The Dukes of Hazzard along with Sean William Scott, Johnny Knoxville, Jessica Simpson, and Burt Reynolds. He took the role of Uncle Jessie and made it a tad bit funnier than it had been in the past, which is to say that I don’t recall Uncle Jessie getting high in the barn using an apple as a bong.

1. On The Road Again – Shrek

Okay this one isn’t performed by Willie Nelson but it is his song. Shrek just seemed like a nice way to end this list, funny and touching but not too sappy.

Willie Nelson is going to be remembered throughout history as one of the greats.

Willie Nelson in “Barbarosa” (now available on BlueRay)

Wednesday, August 9th, 2017




It is only in the stories others tell about us, the legends they create, that we can achieve any sort of immortality. And even though the stories may not be completely true, it is better to keep them alive than to let them die. For when they die, we die with them. Such seems to be the theme of “Barbarosa” (1982), a sly, subtle film from director Fred Schepisi and screenwriter William D. Witliff, about two men on the run in the desert in Old Mexico. One is Karl Westover (Gary Busey), a young farm boy running from an old man who is determined to shoot him on sight in revenge for killing one of his sons. Karl insists it was an accident. The other is a legendary outlaw who has been at war for years with a Mexican family that gave him the name Barbarosa (Willie Nelson), which means Red Beard in Spanish.

No sooner do the two men meet than a Mexican with a gun charges Barbarosa. The grizzled, bearded outlaw stands calmly as a bullet marks his cheek and puts a hole in the brim of his sombrero. He coolly shoots and kills his assailant, a member of the Zuvalla family. Barbarosa explains he’s managed to survive by killing at least half a dozen male members of the Zuvalla family over the last 15 years. The two men—the farm boy and the outlaw—are in the same predicament, both hunted men. Barbarosa reluctantly decides to take the young, inexperienced fugitive under his wing and teach him the tricks of the outlaw trade.

The pairing of Busey with Willie is unusual casting to say the least, and watching them play off each other is quite a treat. The mercurial Busey, even then notorious for cutting up on the set, manages to keep himself in check long enough to make his farm boy turned outlaw believable, and Willy is just laid-back Willie, perfectly suited to play the laconic bandido.

One of the first things Barbarosa teaches him is how to kill a man with a gun. First, he says, point it like you’re pointing your finger. Second squeeze the trigger gently “like you’re holding your sore pecker.” Third: “Always stand still until you’re done shooting,” he explains. “Nothin’ scares a man more than for you to be standin’ still when you should be runnin’ like a spotted-assed ape.” Barbarosa is a font of such outlaw wisdom. When Carl tells him about his trouble back home, he says, “Well, the Mexicans got a saying – ‘What cannot be remedied must be endured.’”

Meanwhile back at the Zuvalla Rancho, Don Braulio Zuvalla (the great Gilbert Roland in his last film), after learning of the death of the man Barbarosa killed, selects another young member of the family to seek out and kill Barbarosa “Bring me his cojones,” he says. “Bring them to me on a stick.” Young Eduardo (Danny De La Paz) accepts the task, vowing not to return until he’s done as the don has asked.

Screenwriter Witliff, whose other work for the screen includes the “Lonesome Dove” TV series, “The Black Stallion,” and “Legends of the Fall,” slowly pays out Barbarosa’s backstory in small pieces as the action moves forward. It isn’t until midway through the film we hear the Don’s version of what happened between the two men. Barbarosa had been a Texas Ranger who saved the Don’s life and became a family friend but then married the don’s daughter without his consent. Barbarosa’s wife, Josephina, is played by Mexican actress Isela Vega, best known for playing Elita in Sam Peckinpah’s masterpiece “Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia” (1974). Karl and his outlaw partner sneak into the rancho to give Josephina some money. Karl overhears the Don telling the assembled children the story, and learns that Barbarosa had cold-bloodedly shot off the Don’s leg at the knee, and slashed the throats of two of his sons. The Don says the once honey-colored beard was now red with blood. “Barbarosa!” one of the children cries. The Don tells them Barbarosa is the devil himself and as long as they live they must hunt for Barbarosa and one day finally kill him.

When Don Braulio later discovers Barbarosa within his hacienda, the two men face each other. “Damn you for all the misery, you’ve caused,” Barbarosa mutters. “All I ever wanted to do is be a part of this family.” Don Braulio tells him: “And are you not part of this family?” The bitter feud, the endless killing, has bonded the Don and the outlaw together forever.

The second half of the film deals with Karl’s problems with the old man who is gunning for him. Karl returns home to find his father and sister alone and in bad health. There is a confrontation with his pursuer and later Barbarosa shows up and the two team up once again. But young Eduardo is still in pursuit and there is a final showdown with Barbarosa. I won’t reveal the ending, except to say that before the film is over we learn Barbarosa’s version of what happened with the Zuvalla family and we come to understand the violence that happened so many years ago. By the end of the film, Karl has grown from naïve farm boy to experienced outlaw in his own right. The events that transpire at the story’s conclusion give him no choice but to become part of the legend of Barbarosa himself.

Scorpion Releasing has done an excellent job presenting the film in its first-ever wide screen release in the U.S. The 1080 p transfer to Blu-Ray displays the movie in its original 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio. The picture is sharp and clear and does justice to director Schepisi’s fondness for long-distance shots of the Mexican landscape in which the characters sometimes appear as mere dots on the screen. The disc contains several bonus features, including interviews with Schepisi, and cast members Alma Martinez and Danny De La Paz. There is also a trailer and a separate audio track for listening to Bruce Smeaton’s music score. “Barbarosa” is highly recommended.



This day in Willie Nelson history: “Swing Vote” movie opens (August 1, 2008)

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

On August 1, 2008, the Kevin Costner movie “Swing Vote” debuted in theaters featuring cameo by Willie Nelson. Also in the movie: Kelsey Grammer, Larry King, Dennis Hopper and Richard Petty.

Willie Nelson filmed a scene for the Kevin Kostner movie “Swing Vote” at the Harn Homestead and Museum in Oklahoma City ( Willie was also in town performing in Last of Breed tour with Merle Haggard and Ray Price.

Cher Golding, executive director of the Museum, kindly sent pictures of Willie being filmed, and Willie posing with the staff at the museum.


“Attached are a few photos of the shoot at the Harn Homestead Museum. Willie played ‘Always on my Mind’ in front of our Event Barn. After filming, he signed a few autographs and posed for photos with the Harn Homestead Museum staff.”

Cher L. Golding, Executive Director
Harn Homestead Museum
Oklahoma City, OK

Willie Nelson, in “Pure Country; Pure Heart”

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

In ‘Pure Country: Pure Heart’ Ada (Kaitlyn Bausch) and Piper (Cozi Zuehlsdorff) are two sisters who love music and have grown up singing. They have big dreams of playing big shows, but unfortunately, their mom is keeping them grounded. Their father died while at war, so they decide to venture away to Nashville, without their mother knowing, in order to learn about him as well as his secret past as a musician.

In this trip, they find out more about their dreams and more importantly, themselves. Along the way, they come across some country music legends, including the one we have an exclusive clip of. Willie Nelson might better be known as a musician or a marijuana activist, but here he plays a role of the person he knows best himself. Willie told us that ““I really enjoyed performing in Pure Country: Pure Heart. It is a fun movie and the music is great. Watch with the whole family.”

‘Pure Country: Pure Heart’ is available tomorrow, August 1, 2017.

Woody Harrelson’s, “Lost in London” (with Owen Wilson, Willie Nelson)

Friday, July 28th, 2017
by: Rebecca Lewis

Woody Harrelson’s Lost In London is a whirlwind film-going experience – it was filmed in one single take and was live streamed in cinemas across the UK and the US as Harrelson and crew made the movie.

The movie is Harrelson’s directorial debut and it’s a brave – and risky – choice for an actor who has crossed over from indie films to blockbusters in recent years.

Based on an experience Harrelson had in early 2003, the film follows the actor playing himself as his night goes from bad to worse, including being thrown out of a club, a fight with a taxi driver, and an encounter with the police – and all in the back of his mind is the fact that he needs to get home because he’s visiting the Harry Potter set the next day with his daughters.

‘I always had an idea of shooting something in real time, long before it was possible,’ Harrelson tells

‘I’m excited by the notion of capturing something – I’m from the theatre so it’s really kind of the merging of theatre and film – so I figured out how it was possible to capture it in real time, then the crazy, crazy thought I had was, “Jesus if I could capture this in real time, is it not possible to simultaneously stream it in theatres?”, which I found wasn’t possible, so I gave up on the ideas as there were too many technical problems.’

Eventually though Harrelson met Vicki Betihavas, a live producer, who confirmed that his dream was possible and set the wheels in motion.

‘It was a cool adventure, a challenge but very exciting.’

‘As much as I tried to forget [that night] it just stayed with me,’ says Harrelson of his decision to turn what was an ‘abysmal’ night into something good.

‘And sometimes your bad experiences do [stay with you] then the more I thought about it, the more I thought it could be funny so I wrote it up.’

It was easy to get Wilson involved, says Harrelson, but there was one scene he wasn’t too keen on.

At one point the pair enter in to a celebrity slinging match in bar, throwing insults back and forth at each other.

‘Some of it was a bit dicey,’ says Harrelson of the insults in the original script, ‘but it was a lot worse, I made it much worse and then Owen wanted to pull it back – I had another three pages of brutal stuff, but I think he was right to hold the reins.’

Lost in London – Official Trailer (2017) Woody Harrelson

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Harrelson admits there was ‘lots of rehearsing and making sure the cameras are in place, and the music, so there’s all these things we had to coordinate – I would have liked to have three months’ but Willie Nelson’s touring schedule meant it was impossible.

‘Willie Nelson is in it and he had a touring schedule he couldn’t shift so it had to be done by the end of January – in the end, I would have loved just to have one more week but it turned out pretty good,’ laughs Harrelson.

As for Wilson?

‘Owen I talked to early on and he was in,’ says Harrelson before revealing how exactly Nelson also ended up in the film: ‘But what happened was I called [Wilson] and he was at Willie’s and Willie said, “I know you’re doing this movie with Owen in it, why didn’t you invite me to be in it?”

‘I said, “you want to be in it?”, he said “yes”, so I said “consider it done, I’ll write it in!”‘

Lost In London is out in cinemas now.


“Songwriter”, with Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson showing on Monday at Belcourt, in Nashville

Friday, June 30th, 2017
by: Jason Shawhan

Songwriter Is the Best Movie About Country Music — See It Monday at the Belcourt

The 1984 Kris Kristofferson/Willie Nelson film screens July 3 as part of Music City Mondays

Alan Rudolph’s Songwriter is one of the 10 best films ever made. It’s a musical that’s big on diegesis, a heist caper, a rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-riches epic, a whiskey-soaked and bawdy picaresque, and a deeply funny meditation on trying to leave your mark on a world that’s passing you by. There have been a lot of great films made on those subjects and circumstances, but Songwriter is a movie I love like family.

Most folks who still have chips on their shoulders about Altman’s Nashville don’t even acknowledge this film, as Songwriter’s portrayal of Nashville reduces it to a business center where art is an afterthought. Indeed, other than some second-unit shots, Austin, Texas, plays the part of Nashville as needed. And while Nashville remains the best film ever made about America, Songwriter is both the best movie about the mechanics of country music, and the best movie made by country musicians. Some aspects of the biz never change, and it’s in recontextualizing a lot of the hokier, traditional narrative elements that Rudolph and the cast make something truly special. 

Doc (Willie Nelson), caught on the horns of a bad deal, calls upon his old friend Blackie Buck (Kris Kristofferson) to unleash a caper of ’70s-thriller intricacy and ’80s-success-porn scope. Along the way, scores get settled, fortunes are won and lost, careers end with a whimper and launch with fireworks, and just about everybody has two or three killer songs. It’s awesome. Everybody loves Willie as a character actor, but here he really gets to put it all out there, the shaky swagger and the eternal humanist in an uneasy balance. 

Nelson’s then-manager Bud Shrake evolved the screenplay along the emotional and financial roller coaster that Nelson was going through at the time, and the end result is a film that anybody who’s been on the business end of a terrible deal can relate to. When he sings “Who’ll Buy My Memories” to Melinda Dillon — who brings heart and soul to the role of “the ex-wife” that could have been wallpaper in the wrong hands — it’s as devastating a moment as movies can give.

And damned if Kristofferson isn’t just as good, drinking and sexing his way across the country with a smile and a panoply of hits. The two together make a comic duo of irresistible goofy charm — Beckett via vaudeville — and they find the breezy in the brutal just as easily as they find the harsh in the hilarious. The rest of the supporting cast fits into this world effortlessly, with Lesley Ann Warren as ingenue/next big thing, Rip Torn as Machiavellian promoter and Richard Sarafian as the corrupt business honcho Rodeo Rocky. All take no prisoners with their performances.

What ultimately makes Songwriter the best film about country music, and the one I will recommend to anybody and everybody for as long as I live, is that you don’t have to give a shit about country music to love it. Really, you don’t. This is a textually rich film, one that gets better and funnier with each viewing. But if you love country music and the people who make it, there’s not going to be another movie that scratches those itches like this one does.