John Schneider and Johnny Cash in Stagecoach (1986)

Third Stop for the Stagecoach

The infamous Doc Holliday (Willie Nelson) and saloon girl Dallas (Elizabeth Ashley) find themselves travelling on the same stage as passengers including a corrupt banker, a gambler, Mrs. Lucy Mallory (Mary Crosby) and a liquor salesman. Along the way they also end up picking up the Ringo Kid (Kris Kristofferson) a gunfighter looking for revenge over the murder of his brother. All these travellers have secrets but any animosity they have towards each other will have to be put two one side when they find themselves in trouble as they travel through Indian Territory.

With age comes wisdom and the realisation that if someone has done a remake of a movie which you love then don't watch the remake expecting to be impressed. For that reason when I sat down to watch this 1986 version of "Stagecoach" I expected little other than some familiar faces in what to me were familiar roles. In fact what I honestly expected was a movie to equal the 1966 remake of John Ford's "Stagecoach" which of course was panned because everyone says you should never touch a classic.

Elizabeth Ashley and Willie Nelson in Stagecoach (1986)

Now in fairness there are a couple of changes made to this version of "Stagecoach", the character of Doc. Boone has been switched for Doc Holliday and there has been a more uplifting tone cast over the dialogue so people see the good in everyone and along with that there is more logical rationalizing. There are some more differences but the basic storyline is the same with the pregnant passenger and so on. It makes it familiar and frankly with a lack of budget and style it makes it very ordinary.

What that means is two things and one of them is that we get a movie which is a showcase for familiar faces such as Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and John Schneider. But what we also have to mention a John Wayne movie is a movie which lacks "True Grit". The dirt, the corrupt characters, the look and basically everything lacks realism and the grit you expect from a good western.

What this all boils down to is that the 1986 version of "Stagecoach" is the weakest of the three I have watched and sadly lacks grit to make it feel reasonable. But as a 1980s remake made with then popular stars it does the job with a lot of thanks to the basic storyline being an entertaining one.