Two years after Clint Eastwood teamed up with Merle Haggard for "Bar Room Buddies," the actor and director went country again for Honkytonk Man, a drama set during the Great Depression and loosely based on the life of country singer Jimmie Rodgers.
The film, directed by Eastwood and based on the novel of the same name by Clancy Carlile, centers on Red Stovall (Eastwood), a hard-living country singer-songwriter determined to perform at the Grand Ole Opry before succumbing to tuberculosis.
The heart of the film is Red's friendship with his nephew Whit, played by Eastwood's real life son, Kyle Eastwood. Whit helps his frequently drunk uncle travel to Nashville by driving Red's Lincoln Model K from Oklahoma to Tennessee.
In terms of country music movies, Honkytonk Man does its homework. Ray Price appears in the film and performs with Johnny Gimble & The Texas Swing Pioneers, while Shelly West and David Frizzell portray Grand Ole Opry singers. But the film is most notable for being Marty Robbins' final appearance before his death in December of 1982. Robbins portrayed Smoky, a session singer who takes over for Red Stovall when he gets a coughing fit while recording "Honkytonk Man."
In addition to Clint and Kyle Eastwood, the film features John McIntire (Grandpa Wagoneer), Alexa Kenin (Marlene Mooney aka Marlene Moonglow), Verna Bloom (Emmy Wagoneer) and Barry Corbin (Arnspriger).
Much of the movie was filmed in Calaveras County, east of Stockton, California. Parts of Honkytonk Man were filmed in Bird's Landing, California. The scene where Whit breaks Red out of jail was filmed in Dayton, Nevada, near where portions of the Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable western The Misfits was filmed.
'Honky Tonk Man' Soundtrack
Despite the fact that "No Sweeter Cheater Than You" was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Original Song, the film's soundtrack stands the test of time, featuring Ray Price, Porter Wagoner, John Anderson, Marty Robbins, Johnny Gimble & The Texas Swing Band, David Frizzell, Shelly West, Linda Hopkins and more.
The soundtrack further proved Eastwood's musical skill with "When I Sing About You."
This article was originally published in May of 2020.