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Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues (2004)

Hank Williams , Morgan Neville  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)

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Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues + Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave + Your Cheatin' Heart [Remaster]
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Product Details

  • Actors: Hank Williams
  • Directors: Morgan Neville
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Mercury Nashville
  • DVD Release Date: June 8, 2004
  • Run Time: 45 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00028G7JI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,127 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Special Features

  • Director's Cut with over 30 extra minutes
  • More of Hank's friends
  • After Hank
  • Billie Jean Horton
  • Photo gallery

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This DVD recovers Williams from the legend. Using never-before-seen footage, photos, and audio of Williams, and featuring interviews with many friends and family who have never spoken on comera before, this program tells the story of Hank Williams' rise

Honky Tonk Blues is an expanded director's cut of an American Masters television special about Hank Williams, and every minute of it illuminates Williams's importance as a seminal artist and American archetype. Produced with an understated fascination for the country legend's gifts and demons that shortened his career, played havoc with his marriages, and led to a haunting death at 29, Honky Tonk Blues builds a seamless profile from rare footage and rich interviews with (among others) Rick Bragg, Big Bill Lister (Williams's longtime opening act), Hank Williams Jr., and members of Williams's backup band, the Drifting Cowboys. Williams's story, including his mentorship in the blues by Rufus "Tee Tot" Payne, childhood loneliness, and emergence as a whole-cloth singer-songwriter "who taught people it's okay to bear your soul in everyday language," is thoroughly compelling and resonates with many American originals (e.g., Kurt Cobain) who followed him. An outstanding documentary. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
60 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Documentary on a Country Artist so far June 17, 2004
Verified Purchase
I have no hesitation in recommending this DVD -- it's probably the best documentary produced about a country artist so far. Hank's life is told intelligently through expert commentary and interviews with Hank's friends, Drifting Cowboys (eg Don Helms), family (eg Hank Jr, Hank III, Lycrecia and Jett), contemporary country artists who knew him (eg Ray Price, Billy Walker, Charlie Walker, Big Bill Lister), his second wife, Billie Jean, and people like Charles Carr. The producers have included parts of Hank's appearances on the Kate Smith Show -- and thankfully haven't overdubbed commentary over the soundtrack, so we get to hear, for example, Anita Carter singing with Hank -- as well as fascinating snippets from home movies. Thankfully, the producers have used this type of first-hand material rather than, for example, shooting album covers and having the usual lineup of modern-day Nashville stars telling us how important Hank Williams is to country music (all too often used in other documentaries).
Thanks to the producers for an intelligent and fascinating insight into the life of one of the all-time country music greats.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
In my opinion the great 20th century American songwriters were Bob Dylan, Cole Porter, Woody Guthrie, and Hank Williams. His stature is acknowledged in this film in part by the failure to bring this point home. The filmmakers clearly assume that anyone watching the film is aware of Hank Williams importance not just in country music, but in music period. The debate is not whether he is the premier country songwriter, but who the second most important writer is. There is a lot of talk of the Great American Songbook, comprised by the work of figures like Cole Porter, the Gershwins, and Irving Berlin, but it is also true that there is a Great American Country Songbook. And Hank Williams wrote it. He may also be the most influential country singer as well. George Jones and Lefty Frizzell are usually regarded as the greatest of all male country singers, but neither has influenced other singers in quite the way Williams has. Other singers listen to Jones and Frizzell, but they sing like Hank Williams.

The only weakness of the film is that doesn't quite communicate the bleakness of Williams's life as glimpsed through the various biographies. I've read two biographies on Williams (including the one by Colin Escott, whose book provided the basis for the screenplay that Escott assisted on) and both convey far more than the documentary the remarkable emptiness of Williams's life. He was simultaneously a very simple and enormously complex individual. He had astonishingly few interests or obsessions apart from music, religion, women, drinking, comic books, and fishing, yet he produced a body of work that is clearly the achievement of a genius. His songs are perhaps the most passionate that have ever been written.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful
This may be a good documentary, but if you're looking for footage of Hank singing, this dvd will probably only irritate you. Makes me darn near sociopathic. Even when they have video footage of a performance, they can't resist overdubbing everyone's opinions of his life. Idiots. Almost as bad is when they have the audio and video, and they don't bother to sync them even closely. I just want to see and hear Hank sing. This was frustrating.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
New Film Brings Hank Williams To Life
"Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues," the first documentary devoted to the late country music legend. The DVD is an expanded 81-minute version of the hour-long feature that will air as part of PBS's "American Masters" series beginning June 23.
The film was directed by Morgan Neville, co-director of last year's "American Masters" feature on Muddy Waters, and written and produced by Neville and Colin Escott, author of the definitive book "Hank Williams: The Biography," just issued in a revised edition.
Neville's documentary features never-before-seen color home movies of Williams, as well as rarely-seen kinescopes of his early '50s television appearances. Many hitherto unseen photographs are also utilized.
The film is distinguished by interviews with virtually every important surviving Williams family
member and friend, including the singer/songwriter's second wife Billie Jean Horton, who granted her first on-camera interview.
Also on view are his son, country star Hank Williams, Jr., and grandson Hank III (who performs "Ramblin' Man"); his illegitimate daughter Jett Williams and stepdaughter Lycrecia Williams; pedal steel player Don Helms and several other members of Williams' band the Drifting Cowboys; his opening act and touring sidekick Big Bill Lister; honky-tonk vocalists Ray Price and Charlie Walker; and Louisiana Hayride announcer Frank Page.
-- Chris Morris, L.A.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A DVD THAT DID JUSTICE TO HANK WILLIAMS June 25, 2004
Verified Purchase
Hank, In short... Has changed Country music for good. He in my and many others' opinion has influenced almsot most Yesterday's & Today's Country Stars. Whether it was his songwriting Genius, his performance on stage, or his larger than life image.
This DVD was a real treat for me, since He is without a doubt my favorite.
I highly recommend any country fan to give it a fair chance.
After All The Man helped in making what country music is today.
PS: I was shocked to see the way his widow talked. Not your average decent Ma'am would talk.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It tells the way hank Williams lived his live. ...
It tells the way hank Williams lived his live .Interview his son and the people who was around him all the time . very imformative .
Published 10 months ago by claud skinner
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad Sad Story that needed telling
I have been a Hank Williams music fan since marrying my husband 45 years ago. However I have never until now bothered to learn the story behind the man. This is a sad story. Read more
Published 17 months ago by breischel
5.0 out of 5 stars EXCELLENT Video of Hank Williams Sr.
Before I bought the DVD I read the reviews here. There were a few who said they weren't that impressed with it but I also paid attention to the positive reviews and decided I'd... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Jeri M. Walsh
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good document.
I recomended for all who have not (until this time) right this DVD and love music and it's history: Go and buy it!
Published 20 months ago by Vlastimil Stary
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie
Being a country music fan and living through the times of Hank Williams, made this good entertainment for me and my sister who was also a fan of Hank. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Jane
4.0 out of 5 stars THE REAL DEAL
This is the film for anyone who likes to hear lots of genuine Southern accents uninterrupted by a single yankee. Read more
Published on December 19, 2011 by Wiley
5.0 out of 5 stars trip down memory lane
I remember hank when I was in the army! I loved his songs. My heart broke when he died and I bought all of his music that I could. I loved this dvd! Read more
Published on January 15, 2011 by normie
5.0 out of 5 stars the second coming of hank williams
I thought I had seen every thing that had been documented about Hank until I purchased this DVD.This Biographacal acount of Hanks journey is told mostly by people who knew him or... Read more
Published on July 27, 2010 by Hershel Brown
5.0 out of 5 stars Hank's Got The Honky Tonk Blues
This Biography Covers Everythinhg On Hank's Life It's An Amazing Dvd On The Life The Lengend That Is Hank Williams It Has Interveiws With Hank's Kids Hank Jr. Read more
Published on March 20, 2010 by CD GUY
5.0 out of 5 stars To The Honky Tonk Man
In a May 2009 review of a Hank Williams tribute album, "Timeless" , released in 2003 (the 50th Anniversary of his death) I noted the following that is germane to a review of this... Read more
Published on June 30, 2009 by Alfred Johnson
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