Pure Country (1992): Cain’s Dramatic Musical Western, Starring George Strait in his Debut, with Lesley Ann Warren

From the Archives:

Christopher Cain directed Pure Country, a dramatic musical Western, starring George Strait in his acting debut, with Lesley Ann Warren, Isabel Glasser and Kyle Chandler.

The film, while moderately profitable with box office, fell far short of its expectations.

However, the soundtrack was a critical success–it is Strait’s best selling album to date.

It was followed by two direct-to-video sequels, Pure Country 2: The Gift (2010) and Pure Country: Pure Heart (2017).

Wyatt “Dusty” Chandler feels that his elaborate stage show is overwhelming his music, a suspicion confirmed when he purposely omits several bars of a chart-topping hit, “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” When fans don’t even notice, he cuts the performance short.

Dusty reminisces about simpler times with his drummer and best friend, Earl. Without telling his manager Lula, he decides to “take a walk,” and hitches a ride.

After shaving his beard and cutting off his ponytail, Dusty heads for the small farm town where he grew up, visiting his old grandmother. He visits a bar where he and Earl played prior to making it big.

Al, Harley’s drunk and rugged friend, get into an argument in the parking lot over Dusty, who neither have ever seen or met. Dusty, while drunk, comes to assist Harley with Al, who won’t stop bothering her.

Harley brings him home as a reward for defending her honor. While Dusty is enjoying his freedom, his concert in Shreveport was cancelled.

Meanwhile, Buddy Jackson comes on stage, disguised as Dusty himself, and lip-syncing to recordings of Dusty; the lights and smoke make the gimmick works.

Meanwhile, Dusty stays on at the ranch, paying room and board and taking roping lessons, earning the respect of Harley’s father, Ernest. Ernest confides in Dusty that he is forced to sell pieces of the ranch. Harley is determined to save the struggling spread with victory in a Las Vegas rodeo.

Buddy confronts Lula after his “performance” and demands $100,000 and a recording contract. He lies to the media that Lula paid him to keep imitating Dusty.

Dusty confronts Buddy about the lie, threatening to sue him if he ever shows his face in country music again. Lula is grateful for his intervention to which Dusty brings up Harley’s Name.

His first appearance after “vacation” is in Las Vegas at the same time as the rodeo Harley Tucker is competing in. Lula secretly arranges for Harley and her family to get tickets to Dusty’s Show.

True to his nature, he does the show without the smoke and the lights. He sits on the stage, playing guitar and singing, “I cross My Heart,” a song he composed for her, which wins him Harley’s forgiveness.

George Strait as Wyatt “Dusty” Chandler
Lesley Ann Warren as Lula Rogers
Isabel Glasser as Harley Tucker
Kyle Chandler as Buddy Jackson
John Doe as Earl Blackstock
Rory Calhoun as Ernest Tucker
Molly McClure as Grandma Ivy Chandler
James Terry McIlvain as Tim Tucker
Toby Metcalf as J.W. Tucker
Mark Walters as Al
Tom Christopher as Dave – Dusty’s Bodyguard
Jeffrey R. Fontana as Eddie – Dusty’s Bodyguard