Outlaw Blues (1977)

PG | 100 mins | Adventure | 30 June 1977

Director:

Richard T. Heffron

Writer:

B. W. L. Norton

Producer:

Steve Tisch

Cinematographer:

Jules Brenner

Production Designer:

Jack Marty

Production Company:

Sequoia Pictures
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HISTORY

End credits include the following written acknowledgement: “Special thanks to: Lower Colorado River Authority, Glastron Boat Company, Johnson Motors, Datsun Motor Company, Moonhill Management Company.”
       A 5 Oct 1976 HR news item announced Hoyt Axton had been cast in a featured role. Axton does not appear onscreen, but he wrote three songs, and, according to a 10 Aug 1977 Var brief, also produced the movie’s soundtrack album.
       On 8 Aug 1975, DV reported that producer Steve Tisch would produce “Outlaw Blues” in Nashville, TN, in spring 1976. However, an 18 Oct 1976 Box article stated principal photography began 27 Sep 1976 at Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, TX. Most of the film’s location shooting was done in Austin TX.
       An advertisement appeared in the 3 Jun 1977 Bakersfield Californian for a one-night preview of the film at the Stockdale Theatre. An undated HR news item announced that Warner Bros. would premiere the film in Austin TX, 30 Jun--2 Jul 1977.
       The 5 Sep 1977 Time review compared the film’s spirit to that of much country music, reporting that it was a “mock-heroic ballad, loose and unpretentious in form, yet somehow not quite so memorable as it might have ... More Less

End credits include the following written acknowledgement: “Special thanks to: Lower Colorado River Authority, Glastron Boat Company, Johnson Motors, Datsun Motor Company, Moonhill Management Company.”
       A 5 Oct 1976 HR news item announced Hoyt Axton had been cast in a featured role. Axton does not appear onscreen, but he wrote three songs, and, according to a 10 Aug 1977 Var brief, also produced the movie’s soundtrack album.
       On 8 Aug 1975, DV reported that producer Steve Tisch would produce “Outlaw Blues” in Nashville, TN, in spring 1976. However, an 18 Oct 1976 Box article stated principal photography began 27 Sep 1976 at Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, TX. Most of the film’s location shooting was done in Austin TX.
       An advertisement appeared in the 3 Jun 1977 Bakersfield Californian for a one-night preview of the film at the Stockdale Theatre. An undated HR news item announced that Warner Bros. would premiere the film in Austin TX, 30 Jun--2 Jul 1977.
       The 5 Sep 1977 Time review compared the film’s spirit to that of much country music, reporting that it was a “mock-heroic ballad, loose and unpretentious in form, yet somehow not quite so memorable as it might have been.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Bakersfield Californian
3 Jun 1977.
---
Box Office
18 Oct 1976.
---
Daily Variety
8 Aug 1975.
---
Daily Variety
10 Aug 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
5 Oct 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
Undated.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1977
p. 2.
LAHExam
25 Aug 1977.
---
Los Angeles Free Press
19 Aug 1977.
---
Los Angeles Times
17 Aug 1977
p. 18.
Motion Picture Production Digest
20 Jul 1977.
---
New West
12 Sep 1977.
---
New York Times
16 Jul 1977
p. 14.
The Paris [TX] News
26 Jun 1977.
---
Time
5 Sep 1977.
---
Variety
6 Jul 1977
p. 17.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
A Fred Weintraub-Paul Heller production
Warner Bros., a Warner Communications Company, presents
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr & 1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
2d unit cam
Gaffer
Key grip
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATOR
Prop master
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus supv
Addl music by
SOUND
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
MAKEUP
Susan Saint James' makeup
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec consultant
Post prod supv
Loc mgr
Staff
Staff
Staff
AFI intern
Casting
Script supv
Transportation capt
Prod crew and equip supplied by
Asst to the prod
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
Stunt driver
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
SONGS
"Outlaw Blues," written by John Oates, performed by Peter Fonda
"Jailbirds Can't Fly," by Harlan Sanders and R. C. O'Leary, performed by Peter Fonda
"Whisper In A Velvet Chair," written by Lee Clayton, performed by Hoyt Axton
+
SONGS
"Outlaw Blues," written by John Oates, performed by Peter Fonda
"Jailbirds Can't Fly," by Harlan Sanders and R. C. O'Leary, performed by Peter Fonda
"Whisper In A Velvet Chair," written by Lee Clayton, performed by Hoyt Axton
"I Dream Of Highways," written by Hoyt Axton, performed by Peter Fonda and Susan Saint James
"Beyond These Walls," written by Hoyt Axton, performed by Steve Fromholz
"Water For My Horses," written by Hoyt Axton, perfomed by Peter Fonda.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
30 June 1977
Premiere Information:
Austin, TX, premiere: 30 June 1977
Paris, TX, opening: 1 July 1977
New York opening: 15 July 1977
Los Angeles opening: 17 August 1977
Production Date:
began 27 September 1976 in Huntsville and Austin, TX
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Brothers Entertainment, Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 June 1977
Copyright Number:
LP49129
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
100
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24831
SYNOPSIS

Aspiring singer-songwriter Bobby Ogden serves a prison sentence at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, playing guitar and picking cotton. Country music star Garland Dupree arrives at the prison to record a live album and initially refuses to perform because of the poor acoustics. However, the owner of Alamo Records, Bill Hatch, reminds Garland that he needs the money because he owes the Internal Revenue Service back taxes. The prison’s associate warden, Jim Williams, introduces Bobby, who has a month-and-a-half left to serve, to Garland and asks the singer if he will listen to the young man perform. Bobby sings his song “Outlaw Blues” with Garland’s band. Several weeks later, another inmate alerts Bobby to Garland singing “Outlaw Blues” on the radio. Williams discovers that Garland copyrighted the song two weeks earlier and advises Bobby not to do seek revenge. Upon his release, Bobby goes to Austin and finds Garland at a recording studio, where the country star is receiving a humanitarian award from Chief of Police Buzz Cavenaugh. Bobby confronts Garland, but has no way of proving he wrote “Outlaw Blues” because Garland’s band will testify that their boss wrote the song. Bobby smashes Garland’s guitar and the two men scuffle. A gun falls to the floor and Garland grabs it, but in the melee it discharges, wounding Garland in the leg. Bobby finds himself holding the weapon and flees. A chase ensues and Bobby hurts his ankle leaping from a rooftop. Cavenaugh orders the area around studio blocked off. To escape, Bobby hides in the car trunk of Tina Waters, one of Garland’s backup singers, and sneaks into her houseboat when she goes out to a bar ... +


Aspiring singer-songwriter Bobby Ogden serves a prison sentence at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, playing guitar and picking cotton. Country music star Garland Dupree arrives at the prison to record a live album and initially refuses to perform because of the poor acoustics. However, the owner of Alamo Records, Bill Hatch, reminds Garland that he needs the money because he owes the Internal Revenue Service back taxes. The prison’s associate warden, Jim Williams, introduces Bobby, who has a month-and-a-half left to serve, to Garland and asks the singer if he will listen to the young man perform. Bobby sings his song “Outlaw Blues” with Garland’s band. Several weeks later, another inmate alerts Bobby to Garland singing “Outlaw Blues” on the radio. Williams discovers that Garland copyrighted the song two weeks earlier and advises Bobby not to do seek revenge. Upon his release, Bobby goes to Austin and finds Garland at a recording studio, where the country star is receiving a humanitarian award from Chief of Police Buzz Cavenaugh. Bobby confronts Garland, but has no way of proving he wrote “Outlaw Blues” because Garland’s band will testify that their boss wrote the song. Bobby smashes Garland’s guitar and the two men scuffle. A gun falls to the floor and Garland grabs it, but in the melee it discharges, wounding Garland in the leg. Bobby finds himself holding the weapon and flees. A chase ensues and Bobby hurts his ankle leaping from a rooftop. Cavenaugh orders the area around studio blocked off. To escape, Bobby hides in the car trunk of Tina Waters, one of Garland’s backup singers, and sneaks into her houseboat when she goes out to a bar with several band mates. A local television station airs footage of the shooting, captured by a cameraman present for the awards ceremony, and it proves the injury was accidental. Later, Tina discovers that Elroy, Garland’s soundman, still has a tape of Bobby singing at Huntsville. She tells him to mix the recording and make ten copies so can make some real money. The next day, Tina, poses as an attorney and calls radio stations offering to sell them “exclusive” rights to a recording that proves Garland did not write “Outlaw Blues.” When the stations begin playing Bobby’s version of the song, Hatch visits Garland in the hospital suspecting Tina is the source of the tape. Hatch tells Dupree that the stations will not stop playing “Outlaw Blues” because it is highly requested. Hatch returns to his office to find Tina, who tells him that she has a surefire way to make $250,000, if he will pay her fifteen percent. When he agrees, she suggests that he release Bobby’s version of “Outlaw Blues” with his prison photo on the cover of the record. Hatch apologizes, claiming that he had the same idea that morning and a release is already in the works. Later, Tina returns home and surprises Bobby. After chasing him with a pistol, she informs him he has a record climbing the charts. In response, Bobby blurts out that he has not had sex in five years, three months, and twelve days, and Tina offers to fix him up with a girl she knows, but Bobby is only interested in Tina. Tina claims that she has venereal disease. Bobby apologizes for coming on so strong and tells her that he thought she would know how to handle a “semi-virgin,” such as himself. Touched, she admits that she lied about having a venereal disease and they make love. The next day, Bobby convinces a reluctant Tina to take him to a music store so he can see his record. When a group of teenage girls recognize Bobby and ask for his autograph, a crowd gathers and Bobby and Tina are forced to escape on a stolen police motorcycle, further embellishing Bobby’s “outlaw” reputation. Back at the houseboat, Bobby works on a new song and Tina asks if he has enough material for a full-length album. Tina suggests they can use the promise of more songs as leverage with Hatch to secure royalties. Tina proposes that she become Bobby’s manager and the pair go to radio station KVET, where Bobby is interviewed live by disk jockey Jerry Greene. Prompted by Tina, Bobby thanks the listeners for their support, apologizes for Garland getting shot, and tells the police he will not be taken alive. When the police arrive at the station, Bobby is gone. Next, he shows up at a honkytonk and performs “Outlaw Blues” with the house band, while Tina calls in an anonymous tip to police. Bobby sneaks out the back as police arrive, and does another radio interview, once again claiming that police will not take him alive. Meanwhile, a television newscaster reports that Bobby has pledged tens of thousands of dollars to local charities. Chief Cavenaugh, who is running for mayor, implores his police force to capture Bobby as soon as possible. Tina informs Bobby that “Outlaw Blues” is at number five on the record charts. At the hospital, Hatch explains to Garland why he released Bobby’s record. However, Garland is upset and informs Hatch that he is leaving Alamo Records, as well as offering a $5,000 reward for Bobby’s capture. Bobby appears at a University of Texas football game and performs the alma mater. He and Tina disguise themselves as members of the band and elude police one more.”Outlaw Blues” hits number one on the singles charts and Bobby and Tina arrive uninvited at a party at Hatch’s house. There, Tina demands $150,000 in royalties and fees, offering Hatch a new Bobby Ogden album. Hatch reluctantly agrees, but only when they deliver a completed album. However, Tina claims this is impossible because Bobby is a fugitive. Bobby, however, suggests they record the album with Elroy and Garland’s band in the back of a feed store. Seeking the reward for Bobby’s capture, Leon Warback, an employee at the recording studio where Garland was shot, reveals Bobby’s whereabouts. Garland alerts the police and they converge on the feed store as Tina and Bobby escape in a truck with the master recordings. A gun-wielding Garland and Leon pursue Tina and Bobby, but Leon’s Jeep crashes into a police cruiser and Garland shoots himself in the other leg. Although a police officer wounds Bobby, he and Tina elude capture. Tina begs Bobby to go to a hospital, but Bobby insists they get their money from Hatch. However, they only have six songs recorded and Hatch wants ten for an album. He agrees to pay them sixty percent of the $150,000. As police arrive, they take the cash and flee in Hatch’s speedboat. Chief Cavenaugh organizes blockades on the river, but Bobby crashes through them. The chase leads down a small canal and Cavenaugh’s boat overturns. Back on the main river, Bobby and Tina leap from the speedboat before it crashes and bursts into flames. Later, Bobby and Tina are married in Mexico and Tina offers Channel 24 “exclusive” rights to film of the event. In the letter, she also offers congratulations to the newly-elected Mayor Cavenaugh and tells Garland that she hopes his other leg heals soon. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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