Sunday, April 09, 2006

Walking the line in a serpentine pattern

Tess and I watched Walk the Line a few weeks ago. Okay the film was nominated for (and won some) Academy Awards, but I was a bit disappointed.

First, I like Reese Witherspoon and Jaquin Pheonix. I think they are fine actors. And they are very fine looking people. But that was part of the problem for me. I'm old enough to remember watching the Johnny Cash Show and I have to tell you, even as a kid I thought that Johnny and June were not nature's finest specimins. I'm also going to go out on a limb here and just come out and say it: Neither one could ever really carry a tune even if it came with handles and had wheels.

Okay that is out of the way. This is just my opinion. I feel the same way about Bob Dylan and Bruce Springstein. But frankly, I think the most amazing thing about Walk the Line was that it made drama out of a life that pretty much amounted to a country song. If Johnny Cash's dog had died, it would just added frosting to the cake.

What really came as a suprise to me was that I too, always thought that Johnny's Folsom Prison Blues had been written while he was in prison. Instead it was written while he was in the Airforce after watching a movie about Folsom Prison. So I had that myth shattered.

The movie also portrays Jerry Lee Lewis as a bizarre looking little psychopath (which he may very well have been) and Elvis as this gangly twitching Icabod Crane-like marrionette. The movie also implies Elvis' boys were the first ones to give Johnny Cash pills. I happen to know that Elvis didn't start popping uppers until he got into the army in 1958. That was a couple of years after he met Johnny Cash.

What Walk the Line proves for me is that legend begins with hype. Johnny Cash will now always be this larger than life figure due in a great part to this film. I'm willing to be that most of the people who see it have never heard owned a single Johnny Cash song. I got a kick out of a Johnny Cash tribute show that aired several months ago when the movie was first released. The most entertaining part of the show was listening to all of these performers trying to figure out what key most of Johnny Cash's songs were in.

Don't get me wrong. I think that June Carter and Johnny Cash were good people who suffered from many of the same weaknesses many people do. It was just this Jerry Springer aspect of Johnny and June's life depicted in this movie that didn't make me walk away inspired to do anything except throw a beer bottle at someone.

On the positive side, they didn't include Johnny's hit song, A Boy Named Sue in the movie. So it had that going for it.

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