By Richard Winters
My Rating: 4 out of 10
4-Word Review: Singer on the run.
When country music giant Garland Dupree (James T. Callahan) visits a Texas prison in order to hold a Johnny Cash-like concert for the inmates he meets up with Bobby Ogden (Peter Fonda) a prisoner who while spending time in jail has written a song called ‘Outlaw Blues’. Garland likes the song so much that he decides to steal it and make it his own only to be confronted by Bobby who once out on parole will stop at nothing to get it back and expose Garland for the fraud he is. With the help of Tina (Susan Saint James) who acts as his manager he does just that, but finds himself again on the run from the cops after accidently shooting Garland during a confrontation inside a recording studio.
This film is notable for not only being filmed in Austin, Texas, but also being the first film to ever use Austin as a setting. The movie can be fun for people from the area especially those living in the city during the mid-‘70s. There are a lot of car chases that occur in the center of town making it entertaining to see all the old buildings some of which still stand today. The scene that takes place at what was then called Texas Memorial stadium during halftime of a Longhorn’s football game where Tina and Bobby take part as members of the marching band is pretty cool as is Tina’s serene houseboat that she lives in and has docked on the Colorado River.
Unfortunately the story itself evolves little and relies heavily on a lot of car chases and clichéd one-dimensional characters. Bobby’s hit song is too low key and melodic making it hard to imagine why so many people would get so crazy about it as a more up tempo country/rock sound would have worked better and given the soundtrack more of a kick.
The film also suffers from a few goofs and lapses of logic. The biggest one is when a lone cameraman films Bobby accidently shooting Garland and it gets replayed on the evening news. Yet when it gets shown it has several edits and footage of the incident from different viewpoints and angles, which if truly shot by just one camera wouldn’t have been possible. The idea of having Garland chasing Bobby down through the streets of Austin in broad daylight while shooting at him is utterly insane even for a deluded, egotistical character that he is as it would just get him thrown into jail. Since the Garland character is portrayed as having a lot of money then he should do what most rich people do when they want someone dead, which is hire someone else to do it while creatively covering up the paper trail.
Fonda too laid back in the lead and comes off as transparent and boring. Saint James, Callahan and John Crawford as an obsessed police chief lend some amusing support, but their presence as well as a nifty boat chase at the end cannot save a film that is otherwise generic and silly.
My Rating: 4 out of 10
Released: July 15, 1977
Runtime: 1Hour 40Minutes
Director: Richard T. Heffron
Studio: Warner Brothers
Available: VHS, DVD (Warner Archive)