First — and let’s get this out of the way right away — this is not a review for the 1939 classic movie of the same name and starring John Wayne. Whew.
This is for the 1986 television remake starring Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. The four of them are much better known as country music stars, and from 1985-1995 they played together in what was known as an outlaw country supergroup — The Highwaymen. You can imagine that one night, shortly after they formed the band and were doing so well, and after a few beers and whatever Willie was smoking, one of them said, “Hey, let’s make a Western movie. It’ll be a kick in the butt.”
And it is.
It’s clearly a TV movie and clearly a star vehicle. And except for Kristofferson, the boys didn’t pass up an Academy Award-winning acting career when they chose music. But they made a fun movie, and it’s 100 minutes well-spent.
The premise is simple. A group of strangers jumps on a stagecoach in Tonto, Arizona Territory, bound for Lordsburg in the New Mexico Territory. They each have their secrets to hide and their reasons for being on the coach, all of which are revealed as we follow the stagecoach across the trail. There are a few changes from the original movie, but none that really matter or change the story. A couple of people don’t make it (those pesky Indians), but most do, and you expect to see the band still intact as the final credits roll.