As this movie opens on an Oklahoma farm during the Great Depression, two simultaneous visitors literally hit the Wagoneer home: a ruinous dust storm and a convertible crazily driven by Red Stovall (Clint Eastwood), Emmy's (Verna Bloom's) 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 (Kyle Eastwood), fourteen, 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 protégé. Thus begins a picaresque journey both hilarious and poignant.Written by
Paul Emmons <email@example.com>
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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