I have searched years for the Dolly Parton TV movie Wild Texas Wind, which was seared into my mind. Parton played Big T, a Texas swing singer who falls into a relationship with abusive Gary Busey. Then Busey ends up dead, but who killed him? The cops think their guy is Parton’s best friend and bandmate (Ray Benson of Asleep at the Wheel), but Parton won’t let him take the rap. “I did it,” she tells the lawyers and police. “Where was he shot?” someone asks her bandmate. he doesn’t know. “Right between the eyes,” Parton says viciously. That’s right!
(Of course, she didn’t really do it.)
Anyway, I finally found the movie on YouTube over the weekend, and it is…pretty bad. The first third is all Texas swing numbers. The second third is all Dolly Parton getting hit and telling Gary Busey to stop it. And the final third is a bunch of different people confessing to killing Busey. The film’s best moment comes when Parton shows up to a gig, wearing the classic abused woman’s costume of headscarf and sunglasses.
“Help me paint these bruises,” she begs Benson, who tells her he’s not going to help Busey kill her. “It’s a cultural thing. I come from a line of women who stand by their man,” she says. “If I don’t help him, how will he get better?”
Then later, Benson is asking if she;’s really done with Busey and she says she is. “It all comes down to one question: Who do I love more? The man who beats me or the woman he beats?”
That’s thing thing about TV movies. Just when you’re ready to dismiss them as trash, some little bit of truth creeps in.