Richard Widmark in Once Upon a Texas Train (1988)

Old Outlaws Behaving Badly

It was 20 years ago when Captain Hayes (Richard Widmark) did the seemingly impossible and captured notorious outlaw John Henry (Willie Nelson), putting him behind bars. But having now been released and become an old man John Henry has not changed his ways one iota and within hours of being released he has not only robbed a bank but is busy putting his old gang back together. It leads to Hayes coming out of retirement himself to go after his nemesis once and for all. But when a young gang of outlaws steal the loot which John Henry was going after it leads to the unlikely union of Henry and Hayes as they along with their men go after these young outlaws.

"Last Vegas", "The Bucket List", "Cocoon", "Space Cowboys" and I know I could go on because there have been many a movie which work partly down to the respect an audience has for when veteran actors take to the screen and play to their age as well as their past. It is the big draw when it comes to "Once Upon a Texas Train" because every time we get introduced to another member of John Henry's ageing gang or one of Hayes' aging rangers you get the joy of seeing someone such as Chuck Connors, Jack Elam and even Royal Dano sending up the sort of western characters they were once famous for playing. Now of course that really only works if you have a fondness for old westerns and recognize these actors as old western stars but even if you don't the comedy of aging outlaws who can no longer hit a barn door with a cannon and bicker still entertains.

Willie Nelson in Once Upon a Texas Train (1988)

In truth it is the appreciation of an old cast which makes up at least 75% of "Once Upon a Texas Train" as the other 25% which sees Hayes and Henry becoming unlikely allies is a little too generic. In fact I would say the actual storyline is really just a vehicle for some old men behaving badly style comedy with plenty of bickering between the old timers with Chuck Connors stealing many a scene with his character still living in the past despite having moved to an old people's home.

What this all boils down to is that "Once Upon a Texas Train" is a lot of fun when you are a western fan as then you can appreciate the calibre of the cast which has been put together and get a kick out of them sending up the characters they once played. But even without that connection "Once Upon a Texas Train" is still fun although without that connection it does struggle for storyline.