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Paramount Studios presents
Rustlers' Rhapsody (1985)

"Let me have a warm milk. Make it a sarsparilla. Is this one of those really tough bars? Oh. Well, let me have a large glass of warm gin served with a human hair in it."
- Rex O'Herlihan (Tom Berenger)

Review By: Mark Zimmer   
Published: October 21, 2004

Stars: Tom Berenger, G.W. Bailey, Marilu Henner
Other Stars: Fernando Rey, Andy Griffith, Patrick Wayne, Sela Ward
Director: Hugh Wilson

MPAA Rating: PG for (violence, drug use)
Run Time: 01h:28m:30s
Release Date: May 11, 2004
UPC: 097360178142
Genre: comedy

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ BA-A- D-

DVD Review

There is a certain uniformity to the B-Westerns of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and other singing cowboys. But it was a comforting uniformity all the same. The bad guys would lose, the good guy would defeat insurmountable odds, and much of the time no one would even get killed. The rancher's daughter would be slightly romanced by the hero, but his true love would be his Wonder Horse.

These conventions and more are given a gentle ribbing in this concept comedy from 1985. The unfortunate thing is that few members of the audience would still remember the Westerns of the 1930s and 1940s, making it a situation of having to explain the joke half the time. But those well-steeped in the lore of these singing cowboy movies will find quite a lot to like in this picture.

The central conceit is to conjecture what might happen if singing cowboy Rex O'Herlihan (Tom Berenger), fictional star of 52 B-westerns, were to find himself in such a movie, were they still being made in 1985. On coming to the town of Oakwood Estates (and shifting from black-and-white full-frame photography to vivid widescreen color in the process), Rex finds himself disoriented by bad guys who shoot to kill instead of just shooting guns out of hands. The town drunk, Peter (G.W. Bailey), sees an easy touch and appoints himself Rex's sidekick. But some things never change, like rancher Col. Ticonderoga (Andy Griffith) who wants to buy up all the land in the valley, and the railroad colonel (Fernando Rey) who will stop at nothing to lay his tracks. And of course, Col. Ticonderoga's daughter (Sela Ward) is crazy about Rex, as is the hooker with a heart of gold, Miss Tracy (Marilu Henner).

Berenger plays the lead role absolutely straight, with a frequently unmoving expression despite all the bizarre activities around him. His deadpan treatment makes the comedy of the juxtapositions of modern and 1940s sensibilities all the more amusing. Ticonderoga's idiot henchmen provide some stooge-like comedy to boot. But fans of the genre over the years will discover plenty of hilarity in the concept, especially in the head-on conflict of the classic Western with the Spaghetti Western. The timing of the picture was certainly unfortunate, being that the genre was pretty well dead by the time it was released, but for those with the perspective of both the past and modern approaches, there's a lot of humor here.

There are a couple unnecessary drug references and Griffith assumes a rather annoying mincing manner that is apparently intended to be funny, but on the whole this ended up being much better than I had ever expected. It moves briskly to a slightly surprising conclusion. But Rex still loves the Wonder Horse best.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The anamorphic widescreen picture looks excellent for the most part, with a very film-like appearance. Black levels and shadow detail are crisp. Colors are vivid, particularly Rex's blinding shirts. The source print is in excellent condition, with hardly the slightest defect visible. I didn't notice any artifacting or edge enhancement. Very attractive all the way around.

Image Transfer Grade: A-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Both a Dolby Surround and 5.1 track are provided. These are both clean and directionality is reasonably pronounced. The music by Steve Dorff sounds very good, with nice presence and significant (though not overpowering) bass.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There are zero extras. That's too bad, because a concept picture like this one would be a good one for a commentary either by director Hugh Wilson or from Berenger.

Extras Grade: D-


Final Comments

A surprisingly fun take on the history and evolution of the Western film, with a terrific lead performance by Berenger. While the transfer is first-rate there are no extras.


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