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Red Headed Stranger (1986)

Revisionist western about fallen preacher Shay, who guns down his wife Raysha for running off with another man. Wandering, he meets single mom Laurie. However, helpless sheriff Scoby wants Shay to help him fight the villainous Clavers.


(as Bill Wittliff)


(screenplay) (as Bill Wittliff)
1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Raysha Shay
Sheriff Reese Scoby - Driscoll, Montana
Larn Claver
Odie Claver
Ted J. Crum ...
Cauley Felps
Marinell Madden ...
Cindy Logan
Bryan Fowler ...
Nathan - Laurie's Son
Paul English ...
Avery Claver
Bee Spears ...
Eugene Claver
Dennis Hill ...
Calvin Claver
Mark Jenkins ...
Victor Claver
Berkley Garrett ...
Rev. Longley
Elberta Hunter ...
Mrs. Longley


Revisionist western about fallen preacher Shay, who guns down his wife Raysha for running off with another man. Wandering, he meets single mom Laurie. However, helpless sheriff Scoby wants Shay to help him fight the villainous Clavers.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

31 October 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A rőt hajú idegen  »

Filming Locations:


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Did You Know?


Levon Helm was originally cast in the movie as a U.S. Marshal. Before filming began, Helm shot himself in the leg while practicing quick-draw techniques in his backyard and the role had to be recast. See more »


In a long shot with a windmill, the windmill is turning, but facing away from the wind's direction as revealed by dust blowing, etc. (the wrong way). See more »


Referenced in The Simpsons: Behind the Laughter (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

Red-Headed Stranger is definitely - "STRANGER"
5 August 2005 | by (New York City, United States) – See all my reviews

Let's get two things straight before we begin.

First - Willie Nelson is a great singer, writer, and composer of music. Second - Willie Nelson cannot act.

This inability to act can be seen throughout the movie as the director cuts away from Mr. Nelson's facial expressions during so many of the scenes. The director William D. Wittliff probably saw the expression on Willie's face as he waited for his next line and the look of confusion at the end of each take while going through the dailies. This would explain the camera cutting away from Willie's face so quickly after he says his lines. Any one who even bothers to write a detailed review on this movie's meaning or values, should get a reality check. There are none! Two words for this movie: "Don't Bother" It is without a doubt a waste of good film, makeup, costumes, and realistic looking sets. There is absolutely no legitimacy to this movie what so ever! Not even a comic book adventure is as far fetched as this debacle. Here we have a so-called preacher (Willie Nelson), come to a town and try to make right of the wrongs that he sees (the town needs water). He preaches and he is "holier than thou" at this point in the movie. Then he loses his mind and kills his wife. Thereupon, he becomes docile again and meets Laurie (Katherine Ross). Are we to believe after the preacher kills his wife and her boyfriend that the character of Laurie would just put that to the side and have anything to do with this schizophrenic. Let's get real here. Next, we have sheriff Reese Scoby (R.G.Armstrong) track Willie down and shoot him. After that, they become best friends. Now the preacher becomes violent again. He can now go back and can kill everyone who he did not kill in the beginning of the movie. DUH!!! William D. Wittliff tries to pass Mr. Nelson's character of Reverend Julian Shay as a hero, but in reality he is just a "psychopath". Anyway, you get the point. "What we've got here is... failure to communicate" (I apologize, I could not resist taking that line from "Cool Hand Luke") The failure is definitely on the part of William D. Wittliff and his inability to write and direct. I would suggest that the reason Mr. Wittliff had a success three years later with the magnificent epic, "Lonesome Dove" was due to the exquisite writing of Larry McMurtry and the masterful directing of Simon Wincer.

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