Honeysuckle Rose – Lessons In Charm From Willie Nelson

Honeysuckle Rose – The Background

”Honeysuckle Rose” is a 1980 movie that has little going for it other than Willie Nelson, Slim Pickens, and a fine soundtrack, including “On the Road Again,” which was written for this flick.

It turns out that for many of us those two characters and the music are enough. In any case, the final scenes are a treat for anyone who can tolerate humor and happiness.

Only a superficial understanding of the plot (a good thing, given that the story line does not offer much beyond superficial) is necessary to provide the setting. This summary is extracted from The New York Times:

Buck Bonham (Nelson) is a country singer/songwriter with a loyal following in his native Texas and the neighboring Western states. However, Buck hasn’t yet had the hit record that would make him a star nationwide; in the meantime, Buck and his band keep up a busy tour schedule, much to the annoyance of his wife, Viv (Dyan Cannon), and son, Jamie (Joey Floyd), who would like to see Buck at home every once in a while. As Buck wonders if he should press on with his musical career or call it quits, his close friend and longtime guitarist Garland Ramsey (Slim Pickens) announces he’s retiring, and suggests a good replacement — his daughter, Lily (Amy Irving). Lily had a crush on Buck as a child, and now as a full-grown and very beautiful woman, her infatuation has only increased with time. Consequently, Buck must choose between Viv and Lily as well as his home and his career.

Honeysuckle Rose – The Good Stuff

Absent from the Times account, however, is the highlight of the movie – the concluding sequence which begins with Buck and Garland in Mexico wrestling over a pistol (Garland, you see, is trying to kill his best friend for fooling around with his (Garland’s) daughter. It’s funny. Trust me.), drinking copious amounts of tequila, and driving the band’s bus (a school bus decorated as the Texas Lone Star flag) back to the States in time for Garland’s annual ’s music festival. It ends, of course, with the salvation of Buck, the charming ne’er-do-well, thanks to the love of a good woman.

Honeysuckle Rose – Buck & Garland In Mexico


We join the music festival, already in progress. The key moment, by my lights, takes place when Viv, who has conveniently begun singing “Two Sides To Every Story,” turns around to see that Buck, her adulterous husband, has returned. Buck flashes just the right semi-smile – and all is forgiven. (I’ve been working on duplicating that same semi-smile since 1980.)

Willie Nelson and Dyan Cannon, Two Sides To Every Story


And, just in case anyone is in doubt about the outcome, the denouement is unmistakably laid out (along with the final credits) in an outstanding rendition of the hymn, “Unclouded Day,” which closes the show.

Willie Nelson and Dyan Cannon, Unclouded Day


Note: Originally posted May 12, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com

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