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I Walk the Line (1970)

PG-13 | | Drama | 13 October 1970 (USA)
Henry Tawes, a middle-aged sheriff in a rural Tennessee town, is usually the first man to criticize others for their bad behavior. Miserable in his marriage, Henry falls in love with teenage Alma, who is the daughter of local criminal.


John Frankenheimer


Alvin Sargent (screenplay), Madison Jones (novel)




Complete credited cast:
Gregory Peck ... Sheriff Tawes
Tuesday Weld ... Alma McCain
Estelle Parsons ... Ellen Haney
Ralph Meeker ... Carl McCain
Lonny Chapman ... Bascomb
Charles Durning ... Hunnicutt
Jeff Dalton ... Clay McCain
Freddie McCloud Freddie McCloud ... Buddy McCain
Jane Rose Jane Rose ... Elsie
J.C. Evans J.C. Evans ... Grandpa Tawes
Margaret A. Morris ... Sybil
Bill Littleton Bill Littleton ... Pollard
Leo Yates Leo Yates ... Vogel
Nora Denney ... Darlene Hunnicutt (as Dodo Denney)


Henry Tawes is the sheriff in a small town in Tennessee. A man of strong moral fiber, he is always quick to judge others and follows the law zealously. Then he meets Alma McCain, a beautiful young girl who turns his world upside down. Unable to ignore his feelings, he starts an affair with her. But in a small town nothing is secret for long. Written by Mattias Pettersson <seaman@sbbs.se>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sheriff Tawes walks the line between duty and desire, between law and violence, between honor and shame. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and sexual content | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


After working with him on "The Gypsy Moths (1969)", John Frankenheimer wanted Gene Hackman for the lead, but Columbia insisted on Gregory Peck. See more »


Sheriff Tawes: People here just try to survive, that's all. Some make a little moonshine, don't really harm nobody.
See more »


References Hook, Line and Sinker (1969) See more »

User Reviews

He Should Have Kept A Close Watch On That Heart Of His
13 July 2010 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

As denoted by its title I Walk The Line is distinguished by its use of a country music soundtrack supplied by Johnny Cash. Because Cash's biggest hit was used as the title of this film, the fine biographical film that starred Joaquin Phoenix many years later had the 'I' cut from the title.

Gregory Peck with the exception of an occasional rogue as in Duel In The Sun usually is the most upright of moral heroes. His very uprightness is turned on its ear in I Walk The Line with a plot that somewhat resembles The Blue Angel. Peck is the local sheriff who has been ordered by Federal Man Lonny Chapman to clean out a nest of moonshiners. He makes it clear he wouldn't do that on his own as these people supplement their very existence from the untaxed alcohol the sell.

But then Peck is given a really good reason not to pursue one of these families. He's going through the usual forty something midlife crisis and when he stops Tuesday Weld for speeding, the little hillbilly tramp really sparks his engine. With the connivance of her moonshiner father Ralph Meeker, she and Peck go at it hot and heavy. He uses his official position to cover this family up and it all ends really badly for Peck. Director John Frankenheimer does leave Peck's fate as uncertain at the end, but the viewer will not think of any good options for him.

Mixing films like The Blue Angel and Thunder Road doesn't quite jell. Tuesday Weld is certainly one seductive sight, but somehow I could never wrap my mind around Gregory Peck falling for her. Maybe then we're all vulnerable, even Atticus Finch.

The film didn't do much for the careers of the folks behind and in front of the camera. Then again Peck was not getting too many good film offers at this point in his career. But if you like Johnny Cash this is your film, his singing is the best thing about it.

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Release Date:

13 October 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

An Exile See more »


Box Office


$4,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastman Color)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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