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Love is a burnin' thing. This was a 2005 Academy award winner for Reese Witherspoon portraying June Carter Cash. J.R. Cash takes an early interest in music while growing up on an Arkansas cotton farm in the Great Depression. He is very close to his elder brother Jack, who dies in an accident involving a table saw in 1944 when J.R. is out fishing. His guilt about this event is not helped when his father blames him as well, so it comes as a welcome escape when he is old enough to enlist in the air force and is sent to Germany. Inspired by a film he sees there, Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison he composes a song, "Folsom Prison Blues." Leaving the air force Cash marries and attempts to succeed as a door-to-door salesman in Memphis, Tenn. but his heart is in music and he succeeds in an audition with Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Soon Johnny is touring and meets June Carter, who has been a country star since childhood. Although they are drawn to each other, they are married to others. Touring takes a toll on Johnny's marriage, and in the 1960's he becomes addicted to amphetamines. His marriage ends and June helps him beat the drug dependency. Reading fan letters from prisoners inspires Cash to perform a concert at Folsom Prison, which leads to a very successful album. June finally accepts Johnny's proposal of marriage given as they perform together on stage in Ontario in February, 1968.
Actors: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Ginnifer Goodwin, Robert Patrick, Dallas Roberts,
Directors: James Mangold
Format: AC-3, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006
Run Time: 135 minutes
Available Subtitles: English, Spanish
Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (DTS 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 2.1 Surround), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.1 Surround)
Commentary by co-writer and director James Mangold
10 Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by James Mangold
Trailers: Love Me Tender Special Edition
In WALK THE LINE, Joaquin Phoenix shows that he's come a long way since his role as the crazy Caesar in GLADIATOR.
Those going into WALK THE LINE thinking it's a comprehensive film bio of Johnny Cash may perhaps come out slightly disappointed. While there's a relative brief sequence of his early years growing up on an Arkansas cotton farm, an even briefer sequence of his time in the Air Force in the early 50s, the film really begins in 1955 when, failing as a door-to-door salesman and wannabe gospel singer, he cuts a rock 'n' roll record for Sun Studios in Memphis and his career as a CW crooner takes off. The film ends with his marriage to June Carter in 1968. In between, against the backdrop of early hits, it focuses on his failed marriage to first wife Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin), his self-destructive abuse of amphetamines, and rocky relationship with singer/actress Carter (Reese Witherspoon), a twice-divorced single mother of two.
The real treat of WALK THE LINE is watching Phoenix and Witherspoon amaze with Oscar-caliber dramatic performances. Who would have suspected that the latter was capable of anything other than light comedy?
In case you haven't seen the film and you're wondering, Phoenix and Witherspoon themselves sing the Cash/Carter material; they're surprisingly effective. Mind you, I've never been such a Cash fan that I've possessed any of his albums, and I've only previously downloaded one of his songs ("City of New Orleans"). Indeed, when Phoenix and Witherspoon recreate the Cash/Carter duet of "Jackson", my first thought was: Didn't Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood do that?
Coming out of the screening, my wife remarked that Phoenix sounded very much like Johnny himself. My response was a non-committal but prudent "Mmmm". Back home at the computer, I downloaded a couple more Cash songs, including his "Jackson" duet with Carter. To my ears, the real Cash had a singing voice that was slightly hoarser, and with a more pronounced slow drawl than Joaquin's version. While that doesn't detract from the actor's performance, it may cause purists to grumble.
The film's opening scene is of two guards on a tower at Folsom Prison listening to the bass "thump, thump, thump" washing over the prison yard from the hall in which Cash is about to perform his famous concert before the inmates. My wife and I were sitting in the front row of the studio screening theater and the sound reverberated through our bones. I knew then that WALK THE LINE was going to be an exceptional film.