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The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack (2000)

7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 276 users   Metascore: 72/100
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With the help of her mother, family, friends, and fellow musicians, Aiyana Elliott reaches for her father, legendary cowboy troubadour, Ramblin' Jack Elliott. She explores who he is and how... See full summary »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Himself (as Ramblin' Jack Elliott)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gil Gross ...
Himself
...
Himself
...
Himself
Harold Leventhal ...
Himself
Alan Lomax ...
Himself
Victor Maymudes ...
Himself
Odetta ...
Herself
...
Himself
...
Himself
June Shelley ...
Herself
Dave Van Ronk ...
Himself
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Storyline

With the help of her mother, family, friends, and fellow musicians, Aiyana Elliott reaches for her father, legendary cowboy troubadour, Ramblin' Jack Elliott. She explores who he is and how he got there, working back and forth between archival and contemporary footage. Born in 1932 in Brooklyn, busking through the South and West in the early 50s, a year with Woody Guthrie, six years flatpicking in Europe, a triumphant return to Greenwich Village in the early 60s, mentoring Bob Dylan, then life on the road, from gig to gig, singing and telling stories. A Grammy and the National Medal of Arts await Jack near the end of a long trail. What will Aiyana find for herself? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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A daughter travels down the road of the father's legend See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for brief language and some drug content | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

26 January 2000 (USA)  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$6,776 (USA) (18 August 2000)

Gross:

$221,893 (USA) (1 June 2001)
 »

Company Credits

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Referenced in Eulogy (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Story of an American son through the eyes of an abandoned daughter.
22 May 2001 | by (Austin, Texas) – See all my reviews

Ramblin' Jack's story is in many ways the story of American music in the 20th Century, and this documentary tells that story with vitality from the unique perspective of a daughter trying to come to terms with her father's family-excluding career. As such, it may be a tad too ambitious, but the result is certainly entertaining and as personal and powerful a picture of an artist as I can remember seeing. Largely without pretension and careful to get a variety of perspectives, the film provides a faceted view of an evasive subject. The historic documents - a shot of young Zimmerman in the crowd at a Ramblin' Jack show, rare film of roots artists, home movies - are just amazing, and the interviews with the Guthrie clan and other survivors of the 50s folkie era are illuminating. The film's secondary story - the daughter's quest for understanding of her dad - may not be everyone's cup of coffee, but it worked for me, putting a human frame around an epic life.

Mostly, the film awakened for me that sense of endless possibility in mid-20th Century America, before the mass packaging of culture crushed so much of the country's promise. Folk was a musical movement born in backwaters and the public squares of melting pot cities, of the fusion of cultures - black and rural, diverse and rich as the world - into the raw stuff of entertainment. Jack's life echoes Kerouac and the Beats in his quest for experience, and his role as Woody Guthrie's heir-designate puts him square in the heart of American radical politics, though those politics largely seem to have evaded Jack's attention. Jack's identification and fascination with cowboy music establishes a link to American myth and the dreams of a decade that yearned for the freedom of boundless frontiers while established powers did their best to suppress cultural deviance. Jack's life, his persistence today, and the small but vital subculture of his heirs

  • guys like Tom Russell and Steve Earle - attest to the ornery survival of


essential difference in a world that punishes nonconformity


5 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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