I still absolutely love this song, just been revisiting it after a bit of a break from Western Stars. I also definitely prefer the studio version to the film version.
The strings are much more prominent on the film version, and I'd actually never really noticed them on the studio version before, but they're definitely there behind the pedal steel.
Then, being slightly nerdy, I noticed that there are no string players credited for MM on the album. So I guess these are synth strings or samples? And if so, having basically hired an orchestra to record the whole album, why did Bruce not