As the film opens on an Oklahoma farm during the depression, two simultaneous visitors literally hit the Wagoneer home: a ruinous dust storm and a convertible crazily driven by Red, the ...
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Buddy Van Horn
As the film opens on an Oklahoma farm during the depression, two simultaneous visitors literally hit the Wagoneer home: a ruinous dust storm and a convertible crazily driven by Red, the missus' brother. A roguish country-western musician, he has just been invited to audition for the Grand Ole Opry, his chance of a lifetime to become a success. However, this is way back in Nashville, Red clearly drives terribly, and he's broke and sick with tuberculosis to boot. Whit, 14, seeing his own chance of a lifetime to avoid "growing up to be a cotton picker all my life," begs Ma to let him go with Uncle Red as driver and protege. Thus begins a picaresque journey both hilarious and poignant. Written by
Paul Emmons <email@example.com>
Second of two Hollywood movies in about a year with the wording "Honkytonk" in the title. The first was the previous year's Honky Tonk Freeway (1981), though the phrase there is spelled differently in that title. See more »
The guitar Red Stovall is playing is a Gibson L-5C manufactured around the 1970s. Although Gibson launched the L-5 in 1922, the particular instrument Red plays in the movie is definitely not from the era the movie was set in. The L-5P was launched in 1939 and was superseded by the L-5C in 1948. The letter "C" in L-5C stands for "cutaway" whereas the letter "P" in L-5P stands for "premiere". The tuners and the "Gibson" logo on the guitar's headstock are distinctly 1970s. See more »
Uncle Red, don't you think you have a problem with your drinking?
Only when I can't get it.
I mean - don't you think you might need some help with your drinking?
No, I do quite well all by myself.
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An under appreciated 80s effort (being Eastwood's ninth stint directing a major feature), which rarely gets a mention and if so it mainly gets a "meh". This Clint Eastwood directed/performed feature 'Honkytonk Man' shows much more a vulnerable Eastwood in a very dramatic role (of an aging, alcoholic drifting country singer) that asked a lot from him. Set during the period of the great depression that ravaged the 1930s, Eastwood manages to capture the authentic atmosphere and dusty locations of the times with Bruce Surtees's earthy photography and his very-grounded direction, but also letting the harshness move over for some very sentimental openings that never manipulate the situations. There's a real homegrown feel, mixing elements of a coming of age story to someone longing to be somebody and this is all coming together to learn not to take everything on face-value. We watch two people, fulfilling a dream as it ignites the passion leaving to a series of adventures and an insightful script exploring the interactions.
It's an inspired turn by Eastwood, but his son Kyle Eastwood is just as impressive in a sincerely down-to-earth performance as the young lad Whit, the 14 year old nephew that makes sure that he gets his uncle to the Gran Ole Opry stage to do his thing albeit trying to keep him sober to perform. Along for the journey you'll find the likes of John McIntire, Alexa Kenin, Tim Thomerson, Barry Corbin, Macon McCalman, Joe Regalbuto and Charles Cyphers making up a splendidly admirable cast. A very heart-warming Verna Bloom and sturdy Matt Clark do leave their marks as Whit's worrying parents. While rather long, the chemistry makes sure the story marvelously flows and the relax temperament lets the emotional factor seep in. I don't know, but I found it hard not to like. The score is a perfectly delightful country twang featuring numerous names in Marty Robbins, Frizzel and West, Ray Price, Linda Hopkins and supervised by Snuff Garrett. Let's not forget Eastwood himself adding to the arrangement.
A wonderfully brassy and enterprising Eastwood fable.
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