Tom Selleck and Jerry Reed play hetero lifemates who go from hoboes to detectives in three easy steps in this pilot for the short-lived detective series Concrete Cowboys. Tom and Jerry arrive on a freight train in Nashville with nothing but their bags, but Jerry remembers that a few weeks ago they were drinking with some high roller from Nashville at a football game in the Midwest (these guys get around) and so they call him up. It turns out that their new friend really meant it when he said, “call me if you’re ever in Nashville,” because he invites them to come right over and stay at his place while he’s out of town. His place has a big hot tub and video recording equipment in the bedroom, and comes with the use of his Vette. Talk about a swinging bachelor pad!
Of course, the setup is too good to be true, and things go to hell after Morgan Fairchild arrives and pays the guys a bunch of money to find her missing sister (also Fairchild) because she thinks they’re private investigators. Since these guys are kind of goofy, they play along for the money, and soon end up running all over town being nosy, chasing and being chased, trying to keep their bacon and their grits from burning, all over one humdinger of a girl. At the end, they get back on the train, but I guess after that they start a detective agency, although I think Tom bows out for the series.
Basically, Concrete Cowboys is an excuse for a bunch of country music cameos and to showcase Jerry Reed’s larger than life personality. But that’s fine with me; I love Jerry Reed, like most good Southerners who appreciate country camp. Hell, I own this on VHS and also another movie with the same Reed character which is appropriately titled (at least on my copy) Ramblin’ Man 2! Half of Reed’s acting appeal is in his ridiculous patois (I’ve never met anyone who talks like that, and I’m from Georgia just like Reed) and the other half his unsinkable, energetic persona. One of my favorite parts of the movie has Reed ranting about what TV detectives would do if they were working a case like theirs, and part of the the dialogue has him say “I guess KO-jak’d just keep suckin’ on his sucka!” I’ve been laughing about that for weeks. I can hear him saying it in my head every time I think about this movie.
As for the rest of the actors, Selleck does a fine job supporting Reed (perhaps this part led to Magnum?), Fairchild looks like a big Barbie doll, and the producers hired Claude Akins and Grace Zabriskie so at least someone would be convincing. Akins actually plays a country singer here, and leaves the sheriff role to someone else!
I did not know that Jimmy Sangster went to Hollywood after Hammer and had a TV writing career, but he evidently did, cause he wrote this and a bunch of other stuff, and it’s therefore no accident that the story plays out like a cross between the classic thriller Laura and trashy ABC MOTW The House on Greenapple Road. Which is fine. Concrete Cowboys isn’t breaking any ground, but if you like TV movies, especially tacky 70s ones, you should check this one out.
My copy of Concrete Cowboys is titled Ramblin’ Man, because I bought it on VHS at the flea market. Interestingly, to me anyway, Ramblin’ Man was the first tape put out by notorious bootlegging distributors Edde Entertainment (though my tape says MNTEX Entertainment). I have Edde’s weirdo version of Fulci’s Zombie, where they went and changed the title card for some reason, and they also put out a pseudo sequel to Zombie that I guess I should track down. But anyway, if you want to watch Ramblin’ Man on YouTube it’s up there under the title of Concrete Cowboys, and I’ve embedded it below. Enjoy, son!