Many people know that I am not a big fan of the Western. If you look through my 240 plus DVD and Blu-ray collection the list of Westerns is as Elrond might put it, ‘thin.’ I have just a few in my library. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (subject of a previous Sunday Night Movie), High Noon, and Unforgiven. Given such a limited interest in Westerns it would be surprising to most to find Rustlers’ Rhapsody in my collection.
This film from 1985 is a wonderful send-up of the Western genre. While I am not a big fan of the genre I am enough of a movie buff to know it’s conventions, tropes, and cliches. Rustlers’ Rhapsody plays on these perfectly.
The film starts Tom Berenger as Rex O’Herlihan, The Singing Cowboy. Rex rides from town to town, fighting to bad guys, saving the good guys, and always, always winning. He’s an upright, straight-shooting, hand-shooting no killing kind of hero. Befriended by Peter, the town drunk of Oakridge, Rex sets about his karma of saving the poor — and foul-smelling — sheep herders from the evil cattle baron, played with more than just a swish by Andy Griffith. Rex proves more than a match for the villains as he knows all their tricks. You see, it’s the same cliched attack that happened in every western town to every hero that stands up for the good guys. This time is different though. The Bad guys have found an evilly ingenious way to foil the good guy, one that Rex — or any western good guy — has faced before.
This film did not find an audience in 1985 and was released just this one time on DVD, but if you are a fan of the silly zany comedies that came out of the 80s and love a good poke at cliches and overused tropes, give this a Netflix spin.