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The '80s Western You Likely Forgot Starred Willie Nelson And Gary Busey

When you think of Western movies, you likely conjure up images of a grizzled cowboy, likely portrayed by a Clint Eastwood type, storming into town on his trusty horse, saving the day, and then riding off into the sunset, his legacy as an outlaw preserved forever in the minds of the awestruck locals.

This formula was typical of Westerns during their heyday, but contemporary offerings such as the hit series "Yellowstone" and the record-breaking film "The Power of the Dog" put new twists on the genre. However, one particular Western from the 1980s won critics over for leaning into the genre's mythic trappings while still being exciting.

This film is led by country music legend and actor Willie Nelson ("Honeysuckle Rose") and Academy Award nominee Gary Busey ("The Buddy Holly Story"). Given how prolific both of their careers are, it's easy to overlook this film. In fact, it was featured on an underrated films edition of "Siskel and Ebert," where the critics agreed that this film deserved more recognition.

The legend of Barbarosa

The critically-acclaimed 1982 Western "Barbarosa" starred Willie Nelson and Gary Busey as cowboys who embark on a series of high-stakes adventures in Southern Texas. The film follows Karl Westover (Busey), a farmer who flees to Mexico after accidentally killing his brother-in-law, only to cross paths with the mysterious outlaw Barbarosa (Nelson).

They forge an unlikely friendship when Barbarosa kills a man that had been tailing Westover, then vows to teach him how to fend for himself while on the run. However, because of his reputation, the outlaw is also targeted by several locals — including his wife's family. Westover and Barbarosa's moral compasses clash as they travel together, eventually leading the two to learn from one another.

Revered film critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert praised the film and encouraged people to see it in theaters.

"Barbarosa is a fresh and original Western at a time when Westerns in general seem to be a dying breed," said Ebert (via YouTube).