Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Christopher Cain|
|Produced by||Jerry Weintraub|
|Written by||Rex McGee|
|Music by||Steve Dorff|
|Edited by||Jack Hofstra|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|October 23, 1992|
Pure Country is a 1992 American dramatic musical western film directed by Christopher Cain and starring George Strait in his acting debut, with Lesley Ann Warren, Isabel Glasser and Kyle Chandler. The film was considered a box office bomb, but it grossed over $15 million against a $10 million budget, and the soundtrack was a critical success and, to date, is Strait's best selling album. It was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Pure Country 2: The Gift (2010) and Pure Country: Pure Heart (2017).
The film begins with various shots of the audience chanting "Dusty!", which is repeated throughout. Meanwhile, the band begins, as the smoke and the lights are turned on, we see Wyatt "Dusty" Chandler (George Strait) entering the stage, and performing "Heartland", "Baby Your Baby", and a shortened version of "Where the Sidewalk Ends". Dusty feels that his elaborate stage show is overwhelming his music, a suspicion confirmed one night when he purposely omits several bars of a chart-topping hit, "Where the Sidewalk Ends". When his fans don't even notice, Dusty cuts the performance short. After the concert, Dusty has a conversation with his drummer, and best friend, Earl. They reminisce on when they were kids, a time much simpler. Without telling his manager, Lula (Lesley Ann Warren), he decides to "take a walk", but does not say exactly where he is going or for how long. Dusty was waiting for his truck, and he hitches for a ride. After shaving his beard and cutting off his ponytail, Dusty heads for the small farm town where he grew up, visiting his wise old grandmother (Molly McClure). Later that day, he visits a bar where he and Earl played prior to making it big. That evening, Dusty hangs around for some relaxation and discovers Harley Tucker (Isabel Glasser) dancing and smiling at Dusty. Al (Mark Walters), Harley's drunk and rugged friend, get into an argument in the parking lot over Dusty, who neither have ever seen or met. Dusty, while drunk, comes to assist Harley with Al, who won't stop bothering her. Al punches Dusty and he falls to the ground. Harley brings him home, a reward for defending her honor. While Dusty is enjoying his new freedom, his concert in Shreveport was cancelled. Meanwhile, Buddy Jackson (Kyle Chandler) comes on stage, disguised as Dusty himself, and lip-syncing to a recording of Dusty. Covered by lights and smoke the gimmick works. Buddy wore the same clothes from the beginning of the film. Meanwhile, Dusty stays on at the ranch, paying room and board and taking roping lessons, all the while earning the respect of Harley's father, Ernest (Rory Calhoun, in his final film appearance). Ernest confides in Dusty that he is forced to slowly sell pieces of the ranch. Harley is determined to save the struggling spread with victory in a Las Vegas rodeo.
Buddy confronts Lula after his "performance" and demands $100,000 and a recording contract or he will tell the media about Dusty's no-show. Buddy, is not granted his wishes, so he tells all the media outlets that Lula "offered" him the money and contract to keep imitating Dusty, which clearly is a lie. Lula, realizing she's in trouble, reaches out to Earl to find Dusty. She then follows him to Dusty's location. Realizing he has feelings for Harley and will not leave, she tells her he's married to her. Harley dumps Dusty and Lula is waiting to scoop Dusty up to return to his band and career. Now back with his band, he demands that his stage shows be toned down, without all the smoke and elaborate lighting of which he had grown weary. Dusty wants Buddy Jackson found so he can confront him about what he told the media.
Dusty meets with Buddy and confronts him about the lie he told the press. Dusty threatens to sue Buddy if he ever shows his face in country music again and Buddy leaves. Lula is grateful for his intervention to which Dusty brings up Harley's Name. His first appearance after his "vacation" is in Las Vegas at the same time as the rodeo Harley Tucker is competing in. Lula secretly arranges for Harley and her family to get tickets to Dusty's Show. Once seated she sends an attendant to get Harley where she admits the truth to her. True to his wishes, he does the show without all the smoke and the lights, and sits on the edge of the stage, playing guitar and singing "I Cross My Heart," a special live song he has composed for her, which wins him Harley's forgiveness. The film ends with the two hugging at the edge of the stage, and then the credits roll with the song "She Lays it All on the Line".
The bar scenes where Dusty meets Harley were filmed at Western Kountry Klub, located between Midlothian and Mansfield Tx.
Despite Strait's super-star status in the music world, Pure Country only grossed just over $15 million at the box office.
Although the expectations had been higher for Strait's first major film role, this did not stop the soundtrack album from becoming the best-selling of Strait's career to date.
The film also received mainly negative reviews upon its release, but critics responded nicely to certain aspects of the film. It currently has a score of 41% on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 22 reviews, with an average rating of 4.7 out of 10, and a 91% audience approval.
On the television program Siskel and Ebert in 1992, film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert both gave the film a "Two thumbs down" rating, but their reviews were more mixed than negative. Both praised George Strait's performance citing it was very good, and he was a convincing actor in the lead, especially considering the challenges of a singer becoming an actor, and they both enjoyed Isabel Glasser's performance, but felt the film was undermined by a hokey story, and no moments for satire which would have made the film better.
Film critic Leonard Maltin, in the book Leonard Maltin's Movie and Video Guide, also gave the film a mainly negative but somewhat mixed review, giving it two stars out of four and saying: "This Strait showcase is mostly pure tedium, though the film picks up some in hour two with the appearance of Glasser, and Rory Calhoun as her father".
A sequel to Pure Country, Pure Country 2: The Gift was released on October 15, 2010.Pure Country 2: The Gift has no storyline connection to the original movie written by Rex McGee. Instead, it focuses on a young woman's struggles to become a country singer. George Strait appears as himself, but not as a central character of the film.
A second sequel titled, Pure Country: Pure Heart was released for a direct-to-video on August 1, 2017. This film has no storyline connection to the original movie, either, and no original characters make any appearances.