Honeysuckle Rose (1980)

Honeysuckle Rose (1980)

Synopsis:

Country star Willie Nelson plays — here comes a big surprise — a country star who has trouble letting go of drugs and groupies, much to the chagrin of his long-suffering wife (Dyan Cannon, Heaven Can Wait). The arrival of aspiring singer (Amy Irving, Yentl) complicates the lives of the troubled couple even further.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Fans of classic Hollywood will quickly realize that Honeysuckle Rose, directed by Jerry Schatzberg, is nothing but an unauthorized remake of David O. Selznick’s 1939 classic weepie Intermezzo (with Leslie Howard and Ingrid Bergman), but there are many reasons why it doesn’t work as well as the beloved oldie.

After Nelson made his screen debut in the romantic comedy The Electric Horseman (1979), someone came up with the idea of creating a star vehicle for the musician. This is what came out during brainstorming. Nelson is a natural actor. I’ll give him that. Unfortunately, his first lead role in a major Hollywood production is a tedious collection of clichéd vignettes sprung together by (very good) songs.

The script is credited to a bunch of writers — John Binder, Gustaf Molander, Carol Sobieski, Gösta Stevens, William D. Wittliff — and this is always a sign of trouble.

I know nothing about country music so I can’t attest to the authenticity of the film’s music atmosphere. I’m sure Nelson helped keep things real. He essentially plays himself (the married singer allegedly had an affair with Irving during the making of the movie). Cannon and Irving have nice singing voices, but they do seem out-of-place in hickville. Slim Pickens (Dr. Strangelove), whose redneckish persona is perfect for the film, is much better as Nelson’s old business partner. Priscilla Pointer (Carrie), Irving’s real-life mother, plays her mother in the film.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Despite the talented cast, Honeysuckle Rose is a dud. Nelson, however, does get to introduce his signature song ‘On the Road.’ The popular tune was nominated for an Oscar. Color, 119 minutes, Rated PG.

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