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I Walk the Line
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A married backwoods Tennessee sheriff falls in love with a teenager whose father is a moonshiner. The sheriff becomes involved in the illicit operations, making sure his men and federal agents stay clear of the stills. When a deputy stumbles upon the still and is killed, this makes the sheriff an accomplice to the crime.
Definitely not to be confused with 2005's much-honored Walk the Line, director John Frankenheimer's 1970 film I Walk the Line uses the music of Johnny Cash to tell a very different story. Gregory Peck is Henry Tawes, the sheriff of a depressed and depressing rural backwater whose life goes pretty much straight into the outhouse once he lays eyes on Alma McCain (Tuesday Weld), daughter of a local moonshiner. Bored with his job and his home life alike, Tawes may not suffer fools, but he's only too willing to become one once Alma, an irresistible and much younger Tennessee tart (Peck was in his mid-fifties at the time; Weld was nearly three decades behind him), starts pulling his strings at the behest of her pa (Ralph Meeker), who's using his daughter to help, uh, persuade the sheriff to overlook his criminal activities. It's obvious from the git-go that none of this will turn out well for our hero, and while Frankenheimer (who directed the original Manchurian Candidate) and screenwriter Alvin Sargent (a future Oscar winner for Ordinary People and Julia) do a decent job of keeping the tension mounting, the film never quite catches fire. Part of that is due to the measured, laconic performance delivered by Peck, who has a certain dignity that keeps him from really inhabiting his role; much more convincing is Charles Durning as his deputy, a donut-eating, law-bending Southern slug. On the other hand, it's always nice to hear Cash delivering the classic title song, even if his several other tunes featured in I Walk the Line fall somewhat short of that standard. --Sam Graham
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is gregory peck good or evil? his subtle, nuanced performance shows a man battling with conflict. duty or life? die with an empty soul, or gamble everything on finding true happiness and fulfillment? and if duty is the choice, what is the duty?
i had no idea tuesday weld was so talented an actress. the web she wove was so intricate, the only over arching theme is her backwoods adherence to family loyalty, in spite of the potential she shows for enlightenment. is she a liar and deceiver, or is she merely allowing peck's ideas to go where they will? is it her job to dictate peck's conduct?
and estelle parsons, good god i was stunned by the power of her performance. her ability to transmit the feeling of pain, confusion, and desperation at losing the center of her existence was deeply disturbing.
i can tell you as one who grew up in the time and place of this movie, that the depictions of the characters and the background canvas of life in the small town are dead on accurate. the people sitting on the porch are really there, it is not hollywood hyperbole.
i can't say i enjoyed this movie, as it hits too hard and carries too much truth to enjoy, but i can say i am glad i saw it, and it will stay with me as long as i live.
I'm used to see Gregory Peck as the character Atticus Finch. This movie is a far cry from To Kill a Mockingbird.
Peck plays a completely different role, from the lank greasy hair to the slouched posture.
Tuesday Weld players the hillbilly pixie to perfection!
Brilliant, a tour de force as Ebony magazine would say.
A well-constructed psychological drama, with great buildup of tension as the noose seems to close in on all sides. Don't really know what all the talk was for on that 'bedroom scene'. It was really quite chaste by today's standards.