January 26, 2013
Tom Berenger, G.W. Bailey, Sela Ward, and Andy Griffith
Alright, now we're talking. Now I am
about to go obscure on your ass.
Rhapsody is this tiny little comedy from 1985 that I would guess 99% of
the people in America have never seen before. In fact I would
that about 95% of people on the internet have never even heard of it.
It is so obscure that one time I actually almost got into a
fight because of it.
I had a friend in college who worked in his father's video
He had worked there for nearly fifteen years. And he
through working in a video store, he had seen pretty much every single
comedy ever made. Well one day I mentioned that
one of my favorite obscure comedies was a movie called Rustler's
I asked him if he had ever seen it before.
not only had he NOT seen it, he claimed that he had never even heard of
it. And because of that, he said it was either a TV movie or
didn't exist. He claimed I was making it up just to try and
him look stupid. And when I disagreed with him and said it
real movie, well, to make a long story short, he threatened to kick my
And there you go.
The very definition of an obscure movie. A
is so hard to find that I once almost got my ass kicked
Rustler's Rhapsody came out in 1985 and, even though I never saw it in
a theater, I am told it actually did have a theatrical release.
don't know when that happened, because I certainly don't remember it,
but if you go to the IMDB and read the user reviews you will see a few
people talking about how they saw it in a theater. So anyway,
guess that happened. I don't know where I was, maybe I was
busy watching Cloak and Dagger or the Temple of Doom.
I didn't hear
about Rustler's Rhapsody until a couple of months later when it showed
up on HBO. One day I was flipping around cable when I was
bored and I saw that HBO had an advertisement for this hilarious new
western comedy that they were going to debut next week. It
called Rustler's Rhapsody. And from the clips they showed, it looked
like it was kind of funny. So I decided I would set the VCR
tape it, and maybe if I was lucky it would actually turn out
Well let me tell you this. I taped Rustler's Rhapsody
off HBO in 1985. And I treasured that tape for YEARS.
turned out to easily be one of my favorite movies of the 1980's.
I wound up watching it over and over and over, and at a
point I practically memorized the entire movie. In fact, when
left for college in 1992 I didn't even take my tape of Rustler's
Rhapsody along with me, because I had seen it so many times that I
really didn't need to. I didn't need to own a tape of this
anymore because anytime I wanted to, I could just replay the entire
thing in my
"You look like one of them fellers that's attracted to other men."
Rustler's Rhapsody is a parody of westerns and it is
very much in the style of Airplane. It is just puns, sight
non sequiturs, riffs on other movies, memorable quotes, bizarre
characters. It is absolutely hilarious. It is also
completely straight (much like Airplane). The actors play the
whole thing like they are making a great dramatic western movie, and it
is so well done that at a certain point you just can't help
It is almost impossible not to laugh. Even
if you have
never seen many western movies before (and believe me I haven't),
Rhapsody is so well done that you really don't care.
just find yourself sitting back and admiring it.
The star of the movie, Tom Berenger
The big star of the movie is Tom Berenger. He plays the role
of Rex O'Herlihan, the singing cowboy.
know, Berenger is one of those guys who never really made it big as an
A list actor. He came close, and I know he was the lead in a
couple of big movies. But for the most part he never rose to
prominence like guys like Tom Cruise or Kevin Costner. All
of those guys were peers at one time in the 80's, but for
Berenger always stayed about a half step behind the other two.
don't know why, he is good in pretty much every movie he is ever in.
Maybe he just had a bad agent or something.
Well in any
case, Tom Berenger's best performance is in Rustler's Rhapsody.
Hands down. There is no way ANYONE else could have
played this part. He is Rex O'Herlihan the singing cowboy and
just all there is to it. In fact, if I ever get to meet Tom
an autograph signing or something, the first thing I will do is tell
him that he will always be Rex O'Herlihan to me. And then I
ask him if he still shoots people in the hand. And if he is
still a confident heterosexual. I can guarantee
you that nobody ever asks him that.
Rex O'Herlihan, Renaissance Man
Rustler's Rhapsody is the story of Rex O'Herlihan.
He is a singing cowboy who travels around from town to town
the old west. And like any cowboy in any old western movie,
wears a white hat. Why does he wear a white hat?
because he is a good guy. In fact Rex does a lot of things
because he is a good guy. And that is what makes this movie
The genius behind Rustler's Rhapsody is that yes, Rex
is a stereotypical movie good guy. And yes he does a lot of
stereotypical good guy things (such as drinking milk in a saloon
instead of whiskey, and refusing to associate with prostitutes.)
But the movie sort of breaks the fourth wall (again, like
Airplane) because Rex is self aware, and because HE KNOWS THAT
HE IS SIMPLY A STEREOTYPE IN A MOVIE. If
people ask him why he always carries a guitar around with him, or why
he shoots people in the hand instead of in the head, or why he always
wears a fashionable non boring shirt, Rex will flat out tell them.
Well I have to do this. I'm a good guy.
always do that.
And that, my friends, is why Rustler's Rhapsody is so awesome.
knows that he is just a character in a movie. And he knows
every person he meets is just a two dimensional caricature in
a movie. He knows this because it is the same in
every single town
that he has ever been to. But what is hilarious is that nobody else in Rustler's
Rhapsody realizes that they are a caricature in a movie.
Rex is the only one who sort of understands what is going on.
And after he has been to so many towns, and seen so many of
the exact same type of character, by now he is getting a little bored
Poor Rex. He is the only one who understands that the Old
West is just a mobius strip of endless movie cliches.
Every person that Rex meets in every town thinks that they are
only town drunk. Or the only evil cattle baron. Or
rebellious cattle baron's daughter. Or the only prostitute with a heart
of gold. Rex runs into the exact same
character in every single western town that he goes to, and by now his
life has sort
into this giant never ending mobius strip of Western cliches.
he does is go around from town to town in the old west, and in every
town he goes to the exact same things happen. The bad guy
confronts him. Then the railroad people get involved.
his sidekick is killed. And then a hired gun is called in.
And then Rex saves the day, and he saves
the town, and he writes a song about it. Then he has to leave
girl behind, and yadda yadda yadda.
Then he rides on to the next
town and the exact same thing happens again.
His life is just one
big cliched endless loop, and he is starting to get tired of it.
The town drunk trying to explain to Rex that no, this town is
different. There is no other saloon exactly like this saloon.
Rustler's Rhapsody is genius on so many levels. Just
the idea of a character being aware that he is a caricature in a movie,
well that sort of a premise was years ahead of its time. They
weren't doing that sort of thing in comedy movies until the late 90's.
But Tom Berenger was one of the first who ever did it, and he
it off as well as anybody ever has in Rustler's Rhapsody. I
mean, for goodness
sake, Rex travels around from town to town with an armoire full of
designer clothes. And when somebody asks him why he always
carts around that stupid armoire, he explains to them that the good guy
can't wear the
same shirt two days in a row because it is a boring. And
because he is a good guy he always has to have something new
Name me any other movie in the 80's that was pulling off comedy like
Rex in one of his designer good guy shirts
Rustler's Rhapsody is funny enough and clever enough just as a movie
premise. However (I am going to spoil the movie a little for
but I have to) there is one aspect of this movie that is genius
even by Rustler's Rhapsody standards. Hands down, the plot
twist in this movie is one of my favorite
plot twists of any movie I have ever seen.
Like I said before,
Rex travels from town to town and the exact same thing happens to him
every time. The bad guy confronts him. The railroad
get involved. They team up and they bring in a hired gun.
Then Rex defeats the hired gun in a showdown and he saves the
town. And the reason he defeats the hired gun is because,
Rex will explain to you, "because the good guy always wins."
Well this is where Rustler's Rhapsody becomes one of my all time
favorite comedy movies.
this movie, Rex faces the biggest challenge of his life. Bar
none, it is the toughest challenge he will ever face in any town as a
good guy stereotypical western cowboy. This is the sort of
problem that he has never faced before, and it actually
rattles him to the bone.
Rhapsody, the bad guys actually get creative. Instead of
bringing in another bad guy as their hired gun, like a villain will
usually do in a movie, this time the cattle people and the
railroad people team up and they get creative. For the
first time in Rex's life, the bad guys actually brainstorm and
they figure out what is going on. They figure out how you can
beat the good guy in a western movie on his own turf.
Instead of bringing in a bad guy, this time the hired gun they bring in
is a good guy.
Yes, it is good guy against good guy. In a showdown for the
town. For the first time ever in Western movie history.
as Rex will flat out explain to you (in a very scared and worried
voice), "well I reckon that the most good good guy is going to
The big good guy showdown. A ten minute discussion over which
good guy is more good.
Hands down, the showdown between Rex O'Herlihan The
Singing Cowboy and "Gentleman" Bob Barber is one of the funniest scenes
I have ever seen in a movie. It is so genius. In
almost makes me mad when I watch it and I realize how few people have
ever seen this movie. So please get on that, will you?
Please rent Rustler's Rhapsody and watch it so I will have
somebody to talk about it with. I am getting tired of being
of twenty people in the world who actually know this movie.
P.S. Gentleman Bob Barber is played by John Wayne's son
Patrick Wayne. And that just makes it even funnier.
Rex O'Herlihan against the son of the most famous good guy
cowboy of all time. How epic is that?
The Singing Cowboy against Gentleman Bob
By the way, the only person I have talked about in this review so far
Tom Berenger. And that is fine, because he completely owns
movie. Ever since I saw him in Rustler's Rhapsody in 1985, I
have never been able to take him seriously in any other movie.
He will always be Rex O'Herlihan to me.
But I can't finish my review without pointing out that the
bad guy in this movie is played by Andy Griffith, of all
people. And he is nearly as
funny as Berenger! You kind of forget that Andy Griffith was
one point a really funny comedic actor, but you are reminded of that
when you see him stealing scenes left and right in Rustler's Rhapsody.
Hands down this is one of the
best comedic performances of his storied career. My
brother and I used to quote
him in Rustler's Rhapsody all the time. Well gee whiz.
There are very few movies where Andy of Mayberry gets to play an evil
scene stealing cattle baron. This is one of the better ones.
Also, Rex's sidekick in this movie is played by G.W. Bailey, who I
about in my Police Academy review as one of my favorite underrated
actors of the 80's. He almost always played a bad guy in
for some reason in Rustler's Rhapsody he got to play a good guy.
I have no idea why. But he is really funny in the
Oh yeah and Rustler's Rhapsody also features a very young Sela
Ward. Who I swear to God looks the exact same now as she did
A very young Sela Ward
short, Rustler's Rhapsody. One of my all time favorite
obscure little comedy
movies. Starring the great Tom Berenger. Rent it,
it, buy it. Love it. I know it has a stupid title,
but just trust me on this one. You will not be
if you are a bad guy, it is a bad idea to stand around
the good guy in a
circle. Because when the shooting starts you are
miss him and just hit each other. Never forget.
Bye now. Gee whiz.
favorite IMDB user reviews about Rustler's Rhapsody:
Most underrated comedy
ever - 20 April 2006
don't like actual westerns, yet, two of my top five comedies are
western spoofs. Blazing Saddles and Rustlers Rhapsody are incredibly
funny movies for completely different reasons.
Colonel Ticonderoga goes down as one of the greatest comic performances
I've ever seen (and I've seen it time and time again). It's a great
movie that gets better the more you watch it.
I actually saw
this in the theater with my dad back in '85. I recall him laughing
really hard and I, all of 14, kinda laughing, but, not getting the
sophisticated humor. So, when I got a bit older, I watched again and
MAN! am I glad I did.
Definitely check out this movie. It is,
indeed, available on DVD, but, probably not for rent. You will have to
buy it. I saw it in the Westerns section at Borders...way to
categorize, there, guys. Nice work.
Just goes to show that not
enough people have seen this great film. Hugh Wilson, with WKRP and
this, deserves Hall of Fame status.
Just a Stranger Passin'
through... - 8 January 2010
was over 20 years ago that I first saw Rustlers Rhapsody, being
screened on late night TV to an audience of few it became in my house
anyway, an instant classic.
Sure, all of the jokes don't work,
name me a film that is funny all the way through...but this gentle send
up of the genre deserves a far better rating than it has.
premise is simple....how would a 40's Hollywood cowboy, admirably
played straight and white hatted by Tom Beringer, fare in the real wild
west, up against the evil cattle barons and landowners.
early scenes in the saloon where we are introduced, sadly ephemerally
to 'Blackie' and the rest of the main characters, Rustlers Rhapsody
takes us on a gentle ride through western clichés where all characters
are totally 2 dimensional and played to perfection by the ensemble cast.
line for me was always Blackie's famous uttering 'You look to me like
one of them fellers thats attracted to other men'
Outstanding entertainment for a cold Saturday afternoon!
Very underrated movie. -
1 December 2010
movie was really surprising to me. I thought it was going to be a wacky
parody of those cheesy old west movies of early Hollywood. It turned
out to be more of a comedic expose/documentary about that film era.
That is what made all the more fun to watch! Tom Berenger plays Rex,
the singing cowboy, who's function in life seems to be to go from old
west town to old west town meeting virtually the exact same type of
people and situations to the point where he "knows" whats going to
happen before it happens. GW Bailey plays the town drunk , turned
sidekick of Rex, who follows along with astonishment of Rex's
cornucopia of old west lore. The supporting players like Andy Grifith
and Marilu Henner also make stinging observations about the old west
movie clichés. One of my favorites scenes is when the evil underlings
of Grifith kill their evil boss henchman and bring his dead body to
Grifiths house. Grifith asks the unexpected, but really obvious
question, "Why don't you bury him? This is a home, people live here!".
It was really a funny scene. This is not a perfect movie and does have
some flaws but overall I recommend watching it. You may be pleasantly
surprised at the direction this movie takes. Its not what you think it
Nifty, well-cast, clever,
loving spoof! - 18 February 2007
1985 film became a family favorite as soon as we taped it from a TV
broadcast 20 years ago - it ran as part of an interesting Western
double-header on City-TV (R. Rhapsody, followed by Silverado, another
sort of tribute western, albeit with more serious themes). In time, we
acquired both on VHS, replacing our creaky, worn-out tape.
didn't realize how funny Andy Griffith was till I saw him in this
flick. Sela Ward sparkles, and looks like a teenager, but she was
actually born in 1956. She recently performed in "House, M.D", still
looking 10-15 years younger than her age.
Some of the funniest
lines remain in our family vernacular: "See somebody about yer
hearing"; "She's probably out riding Wildfire"; "That leg will have to
come off for sure"; "Who-oo iiiiis it?".
There are 2 brilliant
scenes with Berenger and Patrick Wayne - 1 turns more sinister, just
briefly.. listen for the 'Psycho' background music.
not making Westerns any more - but we could argue that they're not
really making comedies either. Why? The art of 'wit' or
sadly been lost. *sigh* You can see both here.
Smarter than the average
bear - 28 October 2005
the reigning king of western spoofs will probably always be Blazing
Saddles, this movie deserves to be a strong second. Genre parody is
easy, most genres have clichés that are subject to exaggeration to the
point of the absurd. Blazing Saddles is loaded with this sort of humor.
Rustler's Rhapsody is clearly the work of someone who still has a great
love and respect for the very thing being satirized, and knows subtler
details that non-fans would miss. Also striking is the way that the
characters almost violate the fourth wall with their hovering awareness
of their own cliché status. The script is extremely quotable, the
casting brilliant (Andy Griffith as the villain?) and the action
sequences as good or better than a traditional western. That this movie
isn't better known can only be attributed to lack of promotion by the
"Rex" is in my top 5 - 15
Rhapsody, aka "Rex", is a truly funny film. If you like subtle humor,
rather than slapstick, you will love the movie. GW Bailey is terrific.
Andy Griffith is so funny. If you haven't seen it, do so. Maybe this
movie will finally get the recognition it deserves!
Not only are the people perfect for their roles, but the animals are as
what is going on in the background. What looks like insignificant
filler on the screen often holds the funniest scenes. If you watch the
movie once, this will likely be missed. Watch it a bunch of times. Each
time, pay attention to a different aspect. There is a lot going on that
can be missed when you are initially picking up the storyline.
Genius - 22 October 1999
will say that you have to have watched countless hours of Roy Rogers
and The Lone Ranger as a kid to appreciate Rustler's Rhapsody, but it
sure doesn't seem like you should. There are certainly in-jokes --
heck, the central conceit of the movie -- that gain their cleverness
and humor from good acquaintance with those wonderful old oaters and
But while appreciation of the movie and its humor
will be deeper with that kind of experience, it shouldn't require it.
Sometimes funny is just funny, and Rustler's is filled with funny bits.
Another reviewer mentions how he saw it with friends when it first came
out and doesn't recall any of them laughing. Yeah, I had an experience
like that then, too, with a sparse audience that barely laughed. But
that was the second time I saw it. The first time I saw it with a
packed house that chuckled and chortled throughout the film. I've
rarely seen my brother laugh so hard.
And that does seem to be
the way this movie plays: Some can't figure it out at all, others laugh
till they cry. For both my parents and my friends and I (who were teens
then) -- generations with vastly different experiences growing up --
it's a laugh-riot. We still quote from it to this day; it's long been
one of our cult comedies, right up there with the Python movies. And
it's because of the concept. The concept is simply brilliant -- if I
taught screen writing, I'd teach at least structure from this script --
and it's executed almost flawlessly, with a pitch-perfect cast. Casting
Andy Griffith as the "evil" colonel was nothing less than genius. He
succeeds for the same reason the rest of the cast does: They play it
straight, with no winking. For the characters, this is serious
business, and that's part of what makes it so darn funny.
spoof. That's what it comes down to. And spoofs do in fact require you
to pay attention a little, and know a little. For that reason, no, some
folks won't get it. Too bad for them, though, because for the ones that
do, and especially for the folks who recognize the true genius of this
gentle spoof, they're in for a great treat. And, if you did grow up at
all with the real singin' cowboys, a little bit of a lump in your
throat at the end. It's a great tribute for a style of cinema -- and
innocence -- we'll never know again.
* My favorite quotes
from Rustler's Rhapsody:
Give me a tall glass of warm gin with a human hair in it.
You missed! How could you miss?
Even with these sights we have a target a hundred yards away, maybe
more, we've never fired these weapons before, there's a definite wind
factor, AND we have a problem with the sun!
Just shoot, okay?
[henchmen knock on door]
[in falsetto singsong voice] Whoo iiiiis ittt?
Jim: It's a
bunch of your men. Five of 'em.
[clears throat and talks in manly voice] Be right there, men.
Ever faced another good guy before?
Kinda makes you wonder what'll happen.
I figure the good guy'll win, just like always.
Yeah, except we're both good guys.
Then I figure the most good good guy will win.
That's how I figure, too.
This is 1884. You've gotta date and date and date and date and
sometimes marry 'em even before... you know...
wait a minute. Are you tellin' me you've never...?
god, Rex. You ARE a good guy.
I'll curse if I wanna curse! Damn! Damn, damn, hell, damn, tee tee, doo
Jud, throw another faggot on the fire.
Jud: A what?
A log! Throw another log on the fire.
The way a person dresses is nobody's business but his or her own.
Let me just ask you one question. There's one thing I'm most curious
about. Why bring the body here? My god, this is a home! People live
Colonel, we didn't know exactly what to do with him.
Bury him! How 'bout that? Don't you think that's a good idea?
Jud: Oh, yes
sir, yes sir, Colonel!
I mean, do you think that when somebody dies, they place them
permanently on the family couch?
Jim: No sir.
"Everyone on the left, aim for Rex. Everyone on the right,
aim for the nerd."
favorite scene in Rustler's Rhapsody:
Rustler's Rhapsody is one of those movies like Top Secret or Quick
Change or The History of the World that I can pretty much quote
verbatim. There are about five or six scenes in this
that I would rank right up there with any scene in any comedy.
But if I had to
pick a favorite, it would be the showdown between Rex and Gentleman
Bob. I know that calling something "genius" these days is
overused and cliche, but honestly, who came up with that storyline?
A good guy has a showdown with a good guy, only they aren't
allowed to kill one another because good guys can only shoot people in
the hand. That was
at the IMDB
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