Honkytonk Man (1982) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • A boy with a music talent goes into the journey with his uncle for a stage concert.

  • 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.

  • During the Great Depression, struggling singer-songwriter Red Stovall, who's led a hard life, which includes excessive drinking, is heading east through the American south on his way to Nashville, where he has an audition to appear at the Grand Ol' Opry. Making it on the Opry would be his big break and his dream come true. Without telling them beforehand, he stops at his sister Emmy Wagoneer's farmstead in Oklahoma, the Wagoneers who live by cotton sharecropping and who, despite having no money, are planning on moving to California to escape the drought which has ruined their current season crop. Under these circumstances, two of the Wagoneers end up accompanying Red on his way to Nashville. The first is "Grandpa" - Emmy's father-in-law - who was born and raised in Tennessee, there where he wants to die instead of California. And the second is Red's young teen nephew, Whit. Although not the oldest of the children, Whit is the one Red requests, Whit who buys into Red's dreams. Emmy allows her son to go as she knows Red needs someone to take care of him, with both Whit and Red to make their way to California after Nashville. As Red needs to make stops along the way to earn some money to get them to their destination, including one stop to collect on a substantial IOU, the trio gets into one misadventure after another, one which includes a young aspiring singer named Marlene Mooney, who plans to use Marlene Moonglow as her stage name and who truly believes that her and Red's lives were destined to be intertwined. In their time together, Whit gets to see the real side of his uncle. What happens with them is affected by the largely unspoken elephant in the room, one where Whit, in his tender years, may be unable to cope with despite the growing up he does on this trip and which accounts for Red's haste in wanting to make it in the business this time 'round.



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