Photos by Jerri Starbuck and Brooks Burris
It was a perfect, clear night in central Texas when the Willie Nelson brand and Luck Reunion launched a new gig, Luck Cinema partnering with Alamo drafthouse. A beautiful sunset and moon shone over the Luck logo on the hillside, just beyond the chapel. The first film in the new series took place over the weekend at Nelson’s Luck ranch in Spicewood, Texas (just outside of Austin). The chosen film for the inaugural event was the 1986 “The Red Headed Stranger” starring, you guessed it, Willie Nelson.
Based on Nelson’s 1975 concept album of the same name, The Red Headed Stranger tells the story of a scorned preacher seeking revenge on his wife and the man she left him for. When Robert Redford shot the film down, Wittliff and Nelson set out to fund the film on their own casting Willie as the Red Headed Stranger and employing friends and family to make the film happen. Sadly and ironically Wittliff died only a couple weeks before the screening so the night was made even more special.
Watch the original trailer here
The screening was hosted on the iconic original film set & included a special interview with Nelson and special guests from the film, including Sonny Carl Davis (Odie), daughter Lana, and his grandson Brian Fowler. Of course, Willie talked about his iconic guitar “Trigger” that he’s been playing with the likes of Ray Charles. Nelson claims he’s like Trigger, old and beaten up.
Willie had fans in stitches as he recalled stories from the film set and giving hilarious one liners back to interviewer Andy Langer. Nelson answers the question from Langer, “I say, who is that old bastard?”. “I acted like I was taking it (direction)”. “Redford chickened out”. “I lost it a long time ago and I’m still looking for it:”. And there’s the famous family rules, “Don’t be an asshole, Don’t be an asshole, and Don’t be a goddamn asshole”.
About 400 people attended the limited-ticket event and many paid extra to attend a wonderful pre-screen dinner hosted by Austin Food & Wine Alliance prepared by award-winning chef Jesse Griffiths of Austin’s celebrated Dai Due restaurant (recipient of the 2018 Austin Food & Wine grant).
The event included several free bars and selling of Willie’s new line of CBD products including coffee and tea. We’re excited to see what the next film will be and will share on our sites once it’s announced.
It was such a special evening that many of us wonder how many more we will be privy to with Willie in attendance. Anytime people are around this music legend, they savor every moment.