'Stagecoach': The 1986 Western That Starred The Highwaymen

The 1986 remake of the western movie Stagecoach starred the beloved country music stars The Highwaymen: Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings. Let's dive into western films and how these star-studded country musicians worked their way onto the big screen.

The genre of western lasted well into the '70s before dipping in popularity. In the past 40 years, superhero movies and romcoms seem to have taken the place of the once highly revered western.

But if there's ever been a cast to revive the western for a made-for-TV film, it's The Highwaymen. The group knew that to remake a movie, you had to do it right. Especially if the original film was a monumental landmark in cinematic history. After all, this was the movie that helped make John Wayne the Hollywood star he was.

The Plot:

In the late 1800s, a group of strangers board a stagecoach from Tonto, Arizona Territory, to Lordsburg, New Mexico Territory. Each traveler is running from a secret past. As the group sets out, U.S. Cavalry Lt. Blanchard announces that Geronimo and his Apaches are on the warpath. The group of strangers come together to form a small troop and escort the coach to Dry Fork.

Read More: Story Behind the Song: The Highwaymen's Signature Hit, 'Highwayman'

While this plot is close to the original, a movie based on the short story "Stage to Lordsburg" by Ernest Haycox and directed by John Ford, it changed a little. No movie fan wants to watch a shot-for-shot remake. Let's take a look at a few changes that were made to the famous film:

  • Willie Nelson's character, Doc Holliday, was originally Dr. Josiah "Doc" Boone. Willie was an executive producer on the film, so it makes sense that he was given the largest role in the movie.
  • Waylon Jenning's character, Hatfield, dies in the original film.
  • Kris Kristofferson was given the all-holy role of Ringo, which is the role that belonged to John Wayne. In the original movie, Ringo is an outlaw on the run. In the Highwaymen remake, Ringo is innocent.

The 1986 film also has several connections to Dukes of Hazzard.

  • John Schneider was cast as the coach's driver, Buck. He's known best as Bo Duke from the TV show version of Dukes of Hazzard.
  •  Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter were both guest stars on the TV show.
  • Jennings performed the theme song and served as the show's narrator.
  • Willie Nelson was cast as Uncle Jesse in the 2005 film that was based on the TV series.

The Character Roster of Stagecoach (1986):

  • Willie Nelson as Doc Holliday
  • Kris Kristofferson as Ringo / Ringo Kid / Bill Williams
  • Johnny Cash as Marshal Curly Wilcox
  • Waylon Jennings as Hatfield (Gambler)
  • John Schneider as Buck (Overland Stage Driver)
  • Elizabeth Ashley as Dallas
  • Anthony Newley as Trevor Peacock (Old John's Whiskey Salesman)
  • Tony Franciosa as Henry Gatewood (Tonto Banker)
  • Merritt Butrick as Lieutenant Blanchard
  • Mary Crosby as Mrs. Lucy Mallory
  • June Carter Cash as Mrs. Pickett
  • Jessi Colter as Martha


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