Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Walk The Line

This is the story of the legendary Johnny Cash's (Phoenix) life from his growing up as the son of a cotton picker in rural Arkansas, dealing with the death of his brother, his drug addiction, subsequent rescue by future wife June Carter (Witherspoon), and his famous concert at Folsom State Prison.

Johnny Cash joins the Air Force and is posted to Germany. He seems not to enjoy his time there, but finds solace in playing a guitar he buys and writing songs - one of which will become "Folsom Prison Blues," inspired by a B-movie shown to the troops, Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison. Following his discharge, he marries his girlfriend Vivian Liberto.

Vivian and John live in relative poverty while John works as a door-to-door salesman to support his growing family (Cash's eldest daughter Rosanne is an infant, and Vivian mentions "another one on the way"). One day, he walks past a recording studio and has an inspiration to organize a band (made up of Luther Perkins and Marshall Grant, whom his wife describes as "two mechanics who can't hardly play") to play gospel music. Everyone in the room brightens as they realize that Cash now has something good and potentially marketable. The performance results in a contract, in fulfillment of which Cash begins touring (as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two) with other young Sun artists. Among those he meets on the tour - along with Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins (no relation to Luther Perkins) and Elvis Presley - is June Carter, who performs as both a singer (although she claims to have no talent) and a comedienne.

Cash's career goes from strength to strength, he lived in a good house with a ranch, but the married is become a jail for John. He had an affair with June Carter, and he choose her to his tour and reguler performance at las vegas.

The erratic behaviour peaks one night when Cash invites June onstage to sing a duet. Cash suggests a love song ("Time's A Wastin'") which June recorded with her first husband Carl Smith (whom she has recently divorced). She feels uncomfortable performing it with Cash, but he ignores her protests and kisses her in the middle of the performance. She storms off the stage and they go their separate ways, despite Cash's protest that "it was only a song."

The tour is a great success (June is shown performing "Wildwood Flower" solo, and, with Cash, the hits "Jackson" and "It Ain't Me Babe"),During his customary "Hello, I'm Johnny Cash" opening, forgets the lyrics to the song "I Got Stripes," loses control of the microphone stand, kicks out the footlights, and ultimately passes out. The remainder of the tour is cancelled. The distraught June disposes of Cash's drugs and begins to write "Ring of Fire", describing her feelings for Cash and her pain at watching him descend into addiction.

On his way home, Cash travels to Mexico to purchase more drugs and is busted in El Paso, Texas. Cash's wife Vivian is not pleased, and between his substance abuse and her awareness of his interest in June, the tensions in Cash's marriage flare up when he tries to put up "pictures of my band" (most of which seem to be of June) at home over his wife's objections. After a final violent dispute, the pair separate and Cash moves to Nashville, where he shares living quarters with Waylon Jennings.

At the Folsom Prison concert Cash tells how he always admired prisoners, explaining that his brief prison stay after his drug bust really made him "feel like I'd seen a thing or two, you know?" But, he continues, he now realizes his experiences really can't compare because "I ain't never had to drink this yellow water you got here at Folsom!" Performing "Cocaine Blues" to great acclaim from the prisoners, the concert is a great success, and Cash embarks on a tour with June and his old band.

The concert features "Ring of Fire", for which Cash acknowledges June. He then persuades her to join him in a duet of "Jackson". In the middle of the song, Cash breaks off; June looks concerned. Cash explains that he "just can't sing this song anymore" unless she agrees to marry him. June is reluctant to give an answer, June tearfully agrees, and after a long embrace the scene fades to the deck of Cash's home in Hendersonville. Cash watches his father interact with Cash's daughter Rosanne and June's daughter Carlene. He jokes with his father, their tense relationship having apparently begun to heal. The final shot shows Cash continuing down the stairs to the pier, looking up, and meeting June's eyes where she is fishing with her father. They look at each other and Cash smiles and the frame freezes; the scene then changes to footage of the couple performing together, with brief biographical information about Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash superimposed over it.

Walk the Line is an acclaimed Academy Award and Golden Globe-winning film chronicling the life of Johnny Cash, American country singer, focusing on his younger life, his romance with June Carter and his ascent to the country music scene, with material taken from his autobiographies. The title is taken from the title of one of Cash's best known songs, "I Walk the Line".

This film was nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) and Best Actress (Reese Witherspoon). Witherspoon won the Oscar for Best Actress, the film's Oscar winner.