The Concrete Cowboys (1979) / Mystery-Comedy
aka Ramblin' Man
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG for some adult themes
Running Time: 100 min.
Cast: Jerry Reed, Tom Selleck, Morgan Fairchild, Claude Akins, Barbara Mandrell, Ray Stevens, Red West
Director: Burt Kennedy
Screenplay: Eugene Price, Jimmy Sangster
Review published October 25, 2004
Imagine if Smokey and the Bandit featured amateur private investigators instead of beer running speedsters and you'll have some concept of what this made-for-TV movie is all about. The Concrete Cowboys stars Jerry Reed (The Waterboy) and Tom Selleck (Mr. Baseball) as a couple of Montana country boys who seek adventure wherever they go, mostly in hopes of making a few bucks. Their adventures lead them to Nashville, where they are hired to deliver a package for an acquaintance, but are approached by a woman who is looking for her sister, played by Morgan Fairchild ("Dallas"). The two try to clear up that they aren't P.I.'s, but the money is right, so off they go, going from eccentric character to eccentric character, trying to find out what happened to the missing would-be country singer.
Like Smokey and the Bandit, The Concrete Cowboys works when it does because of the down home country dialogue and spirit, with Selleck and Reed riffing off each other energetically for a few yuks, while the country music scene plays prominently into the entertainment. Roles are given to popular country stars like Barbara Mandrell, Claude Akins, and Ray Stevens (who performs a song here), and popular Nashville attractions like the Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame are some of the settings.
Directed by longtime Western director Burt Kennedy (Support Your Local Sheriff, The War Wagon), this movie should hit home for the urban cowboy crowd, especially those into the late 70s country scene. It's nothing special, but it has a quaint charm despite the lack of real inspiration, and fans of Reed and Selleck may find this to be modest fun.
This movie would also be the inspiration for a short-lived television series of the same name a couple of years later, also starring Jerry Reed, although Selleck would go on to play a real private investigator in the hit show "Magnum P.I.", which catapulted him to stardom. This was re-released some years later as Ramblin' Man, followed by the Selleck-less 1981 sequel, Ramblin' Man 2.
©2004 Vince Leo