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|Index||15 reviews in total|
I saw this about a decade ago, at Christmas, on HBO. I don't follow country music, but I knew of Williams from my sister. The story is almost a "Twilight Zone" tale; even as Williams, dying in his alcoholic haze, imagined an ideal concert, his fantasy is plagued by the demons that haunted his real life. The demons include the casual racism of country music of that time (although black music and country were intertwined), the celebrity-hungry fan who wants to seduce a famous person, and (as I recall) the basic despair of the audience, who have no other way to spend Christmas than to go to a bar and get drunk. The end of the fantasy, with Williams's haunting song about being deserted even by God, was devastating. I knew country music was nearly always sad, but I never thought it could approach existential despair. An unforgettable character portrait.
This movie takes you far away from the abstract "cat's whisker" sound of the Hank Williams of your youth. It lays an opera of humanity around his songs. It's the songs, the stories, the hypnotic weaving of emotion, but most of all, it's the way the fans were shot. They were real, everyday, unadorned people with all of their own foibles yet the camera catches their private moments of brilliance, an occasional graceful twirl on the dance floor, their unbounded exuberance and glimpses of their facial waves of enthusiasm. The camera shows us the impact of the yarn of music that Hank spins. You can listen and you can watch and you can feel and you can do all of those things and the enjoyment just piles up.
People who know Hank Williams know that he wasn't just the greatest star of country music who ever lived, he was the greatest who ever will live. With license on personal loan from God himself, Hank reached into the hearts of many of us when we were in a dark corner of our lives and helped pull us back. This miraculous film originated in London as a stage play and now comes to us as a video from Canada. The entire action takes place within a two hour time frame on the New Years Eve when Hank died. It envisions his going into a smoky bar and playing a show for the folks. The story is told through his songs and remarks. Important to know is that the show's creator fully understood Hank's legacy and thereby touches all the right buttons. This is the most emotional movie I've ever seen and I'm personally on a diet allowing no more than one screening every two years for the emotional drain of watching it. On the other hand, I've seen people watch it and simply enjoy the ample good music, with no trace of the buckets of tears that one might observe if they watched with me.
I've loved the songs and the singing of Hank Williams for many years. When I saw this film I felt as though I were watching Hank himself. The actor who portrays him is excellent, the songs wonderful. My only criticism is that the film could have been an hour or two longer, with a lot more songs. Any Hank Williams fan would have to love this movie.
I saw this movie years ago on TV in Canada and remembered it as being really great, with a superb performance by the lead actor, even tho at the time I was more into the Ramones than Hank Williams. I recently purchased the DVD based on this 25 year old memory, and what a pleasant surprise to see that the movie was even better now as viewed thru my middle aged eyes, and the performance by Sneezy Waters as Hank is one of those rare things where the actor transcends the medium and becomes the character he is playing. Amazing! You really do feel like you are watching a show by Hank himself, warts and all. The relatively poor quality of the DVD transfer even adds to the authenticity, and the art direction really evokes the period. I think if you are a music fan, a history fan, or a Hank fan, you will enjoy this film. I couldn't recommend it more highly.
I saw this film on the Finnish TV in the late 1980´s and haven´t seen it since. Sneezy Waters don´t look much like Hank Williams, but when the film was over, I almost believed, that I had seen Hank himself acting and singing (and not just play back). The story begins as Hank sleeps in the back seat of his Cadillac on the way to Canton, Ohio, and dreams of a gig that would be perfect for the audience and for himself. That dream reflects his severe problems in real life. Sadly, that gig never came true. Hank died that night, on New Year´s Eve 1953. This little film is a beautiful tribute to the Late Great Hank Williams.
I also saw this movie over a decade ago, and enjoyed it very much. I knew very little about Hank Sr. before this movie and feel as though I know about a very talented and self destructive person, who was not really an alcoholic, but rather due to his spinabifida was addicted to morphine and drank heavily. Either way Hank Sr. drove around the country from town to town performing his songs even though he was in a great deal of pain. Then he died tragically in the back seat of car (I think) many years to early. This story does tell about the show behind the scenes but doesn't get to bogged down in the addiction but rather weaves that part of Hank Sr.'s life into the story. The story did not glamorize his problems. Hank Williams Sr is a piece of Americana to be cherished right or wrong.
This is a movie that should be in the Smithsonian. It's a profound reflection of a time period that produced some of the best American music ever. I was very surprised to read at the end of the film that Hank Williams was only 29 when he died and that he had written over 700 songs many of them classic. I was born in '48 so he was not of my generation but after the 60's rock and roll died I came to appreciate the greats of the past like Hank and Bill Monroe. I think Sneezy Waters did an incredible job of acting. The writing was right on target for humor and the soulful journey that Williams must have experienced. He seems to be searching for a peace that eludes him. I didn't know he had written "I saw the light", which he sings here.
I could have given this 10/10 if the version I saw wasn't so dark (some
of the scenes were virtually all blackened out).
I recognize the older Canadian production values here, which reminds me of "Going Down The Road" and various other CBC or NFB productions. There's a kind of unglamorous and unadorned realism that makes it all so wonderfully poignant.
If I didn't know any better, I could have assumed an actual live show was being filmed with multiple cameras if I only saw a few minutes here or a few minutes there. Sneezy Waters is absolutely brilliant, both as a musician and as an actor. Loved the old guy doing the cagean dancing!
I am the guy in the doorway, bar patron Lonnie Jewks, having a
cigarette in the opening shot and patting Hank on the back as he enters
the bar. I had a great view of Hank's performance as the director
positioned me directly behind the bandstand. Say what you will about
his lack of resemblance to Williams, Sneezy was channelling Hank. The
director allowed us to improvise our movements. My buddies, actors John
Corbett (Pee-Wee Hupple) and John Novak (Soldier) scuffled and I
attempted to intervene and break them up. They handed out unfiltered
Camels and the beer was real, folks. I also appear, with my back to the
camera, coming out of the bathroom and getting in the way of my dear,
departed friend, singer-actor Tex Konig, O"H. Most of us were hired for
the entire shoot, which not only helped pay the rent, but made for some
memorable after-parties at John Corbett and John Novak's place on
Oxford Street (affectionately known as The Baths) in Kensington Market
( Toronto, Canada). The director and Sneezy were professional and
friendly; no "star" nonsense. I was there when the shoot wrapped and
the producers presented Sneezy with his costume as a gift; he accepted
it with sincere gratitude and humility. (The janitor) Jackie
Washington's guitar-playing, beautifully recorded in a studio and
over-dubbed, sparkles and forges a true-to-life link between Williams
and his childhood teacher, Montgomery street- musician, Tee-Tot. Peace
and Love, Wolf Krakowski www.kamea.com
@ lechuguilla: Williams was on his way to Canton, Ohio.
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