Friday, August 28, 2015

Rustlers' Rhapsody (1985)

Directed by: Hugh Wilson

Runtime: 88 minutes

If you ask someone to name a western parody most people will name Mel Brooks' Blazing Saddles. Now a friend pointed out to me that Blazing Saddles is more Mel Brooks taking the piss out of racism with a western backdrop. He then went on to pointed out that Rustlers' Rhapsody is more a parody westerns than Blazing Saddles. And after seeing the film I have to agree with him.

The movie starts as a black and white poverty row western. A voice over explains how the narrator was a Rex O'Herlihan fan as a kid and wonders what these movies would be like if they were filmed in the 80's. That means it would be in colour, so the introduction chase between O'Herlihan and some generic bad guys comes to a stop as they get used to being in colour. Next the narrator points out the the bad guys would not be so cowardly, so the bad guys notice there are three of them and one hero and chase O'Herlihan. Finally this leads to O'Herlihan to escape the bad guys but the narrator points out he would not be so damn perfect. So his escape into a near by tree branch works but he hurts himself in the process.

This opening leads into Rex riding into town and pointing out how all towns in westerns are the same.  Like how all towns are waiting for the railway to come through, the town paper is run by a young idealist who has sold everything to buy a printing press, whiskey is served with a hair in it, or how the saloon madame with a heart of gold will whisper dirty talk into ears of men for a lot of money. Also the source of problems in town is the local cattle baron, Colonel Ticonderoga, who owns a lot of cattle that are never seen and who is a colonel but not part of an army. To make Rex's life more complex the town drunk, Peter, has appointed himself Rex's sidekick.

Now Colonel Ticonderoga is harassing the local sheep herders and Rex shows up just in time to be the big hero. Being that it is a serial western every plan fails because Rex is the hero and has seen every villain plan. At this point the narrator points out that as he got older that spaghetti westerns were popular and they always dealt with the railway and men who wore dusters all the time. The railway baron is also a colonel for no reason and the two colonels try to defeat Rex. Again they fail because Rex is the hero of this movie and they employ morons.

This leads to the colonels come up with a brilliant idea to defeat Rex. They hire a hero of their own to beat Rex. This leads to hero off in the local saloon where the two heroes measure each other up to see who is more the hero. Rex fails because he buys whiskey in saloons that he never drinks, he had unmarried women in his camp, and he not sure if he is a confidant heterosexual.

Defeat and lacking confidence Rex goes back to his camp to pack up and move on. On seeing how Rex has given up his sidekick leaves him only to be shot. As sidekicks lack plot immunity and are official lead catchers. This is the kick in the ass Rex needs to be the hero again and rounds up the sheep herders for the final showdown. Which results in the cattlemen, railway men, and the sheep herders shoot each other  Leaving both heroes to duke it out again and the other hero losses the confidence battle by admitting that he is a lawyer. Giving Rex reason to shoot the other hero in the head instead of the hand.

With the conflict resolved everyone heads to Colonel Ticonderoga's ranch for the end of the movie party. Most of the dead bit characters are there with bandages and no explanation as to why they are not dead. Only thing left is for Rex and few minutes later his sidekick to ride off into the sunset.

This movie is insanely fun. It is PG but has a lot of subversive humor. Like both the cattle baron and his daughter were romantically involved with one of the henchmen that gets killed by his own stupidity. I would recommend this movie in general and suggest an own if you are hardcore into westerns. 

MVT: Attention to detail with the poverty row western serials. Right down to the costumes that Liberace may wear if he decided to do a country and western routine in his show.

Make or Break: What broke it for me was the lack of spaghetti western things to make fun of. The majority of the film focuses on the western serials and just mentions the spaghetti westerns in passing.

Score: 7.1 out of 10


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