After he inadvertently kills a neighbour, Karl Westover, a young farmer on the run meets Barbarosa, himself under threat of death by his stepfather, a rich Mexican cattle breeder, because he married his daughter against his will. Karl and Barbarosa will team up to escape from their enemies who relentlessly track them.

Australian Fred Schepisi's work is a little forgotten, though he was a talented filmmaker who gave Will Smith his best role (Six Degrees of Separation) and signed some fine movies like Last Orders, Roxanne or Barbarosa, a masterly and crepuscular chase movie with the great Willie Nelson (Thief) and Gary Busey (Lethal Weapon).

Jean-Pierre Dionnet

Everybody knows Willie Nelson, the outlaw, the last of the old "giants". He is less known as an actor, playing himself in Jerry Shatzberg's Showbus, magical in Michael Mann's Thief and he's not at all known as a producer like for instance with the Stagecoach remake with Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Kris Kristopherson. Here he plays Barbarosa, the man with the red beard who'll teach Gary Busey the tricks of the outlaw trade. If the story seems familiar it's only normal as it's the same as in William Riley Burnett's Captain Lightfoot adapted by the same for the eponymic film by Douglas Sirk; Burnett who was furious with Michael Cimino's cut and paste Thunderbolt and Lightfoot with... Gary Busey. Willie Nelson says his inspiration came from the true story of an Irish highwayman from the early 19th century. In any case the title well describes this bloody family vengeance story where almost everyone ends up dead.

Barbarosa. New print. 1982. Color. 90mn. Original version with French subtitles. USA. Western.
Direction: Fred Schepisi. Production: Paul Lazarus III. Screenplay: William D. Wittliff. Editing: David Ramirez, Don Zimmerman. Photography: Ian Baker. With: Willie Nelson, Gary Busey, Gilbert Roland, Isela Vega.
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