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HISTORY

The film was initially titled An Exile, after the 1967 novel by Madison Jones upon which it was based. An item in the 19 Jun 1969 DV referred to it by that title when announcing the casting of Gregory Peck. The following month, a 14 Jul 1969 DV brief stated that director John Frankenheimer was in talks with actress Leigh Taylor-Young to play the female lead, but Tuesday Weld was ultimately cast in the role of “Alma McCain.”
       Principal photography began on 10 Oct 1969 in Cookeville, TN, as announced in that day’s issue of DV. A month of location shooting in Tennessee was slated to be followed by additional location shooting in Colusa County, CA, and interior filming on the Columbia Pictures studio lot in Hollywood, CA. Director of photography James Wong Howe, who was seventy years old at the time, took ill the first week of filming and was replaced by David M. Walsh, as noted in the 24 Oct 1969 DV.
       While the 7 Oct 1969 DV reported that singer-songwriter Johnny Cash would compose the score and write twelve original songs, the 19 Nov 1970 NYT review later claimed that only five songs by Cash appeared in the film. One of them, “I Walk the Line,” originally released in 1957, inspired a title change that was announced in the 29 Oct 1969 Var. The title was changed again to September Country, according to a 31 Mar 1970 DV item; however, by late Jun 1970, it reverted to I Walk the Line, the ... More Less

The film was initially titled An Exile, after the 1967 novel by Madison Jones upon which it was based. An item in the 19 Jun 1969 DV referred to it by that title when announcing the casting of Gregory Peck. The following month, a 14 Jul 1969 DV brief stated that director John Frankenheimer was in talks with actress Leigh Taylor-Young to play the female lead, but Tuesday Weld was ultimately cast in the role of “Alma McCain.”
       Principal photography began on 10 Oct 1969 in Cookeville, TN, as announced in that day’s issue of DV. A month of location shooting in Tennessee was slated to be followed by additional location shooting in Colusa County, CA, and interior filming on the Columbia Pictures studio lot in Hollywood, CA. Director of photography James Wong Howe, who was seventy years old at the time, took ill the first week of filming and was replaced by David M. Walsh, as noted in the 24 Oct 1969 DV.
       While the 7 Oct 1969 DV reported that singer-songwriter Johnny Cash would compose the score and write twelve original songs, the 19 Nov 1970 NYT review later claimed that only five songs by Cash appeared in the film. One of them, “I Walk the Line,” originally released in 1957, inspired a title change that was announced in the 29 Oct 1969 Var. The title was changed again to September Country, according to a 31 Mar 1970 DV item; however, by late Jun 1970, it reverted to I Walk the Line, the 24 Jun 1970 Var stated.
       On 12 Oct 1970, the world premiere was set to take place at the Tennessee Theatre in Nashville, TN, as announced in the 21 Sep 1970 DV. Following an 18 Nov 1970 release in New York City and Los Angeles, CA, and mixed reviews in the 18 Nov 1970 LAT and 19 Nov 1970 NYT, an article in the 13 Dec 1970 NYT stated that I Walk the Line “vanished” from theaters after only a week in release.
       Items in the 21 Oct 1969 and 9 Dec 1969 issues of DV listed Robert Prescott and Lucille Benson as cast members. Ed J. Fisher served as the unit publicist, according to the 1 Oct 1969 DV, and Richard Patterson worked as an AFI intern on the set, as noted in the 28 Oct 1969 DV. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
19 Jun 1969
p. 1.
Daily Variety
14 Jul 1969
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
10 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1969
p. 3.
Daily Variety
28 Oct 1969
p. 12.
Daily Variety
9 Dec 1969
p. 4.
Daily Variety
31 Mar 1970
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1970
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1970
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jul 1970
Section A, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
10 Nov 1970
Section F, p. 18.
Los Angeles Times
18 Nov 1970
p. 1, 25.
New York Times
19 Nov 1970.
---
New York Times
13 Dec 1970
p. 13, 48.
Variety
25 Jun 1969
p. 26.
Variety
24 Sep 1969
p. 20.
Variety
29 Oct 1969
p. 26.
Variety
24 Jun 1970
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Edward Lewis Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Makeup
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel An Exile by Madison Jones (New York, 1967).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"I Walk the Line," "Flesh and Blood," "'Cause I Love You," "This Side of the Law" and "Hungry," words and music by Johnny Cash, sung by Johnny Cash
"Amazing Grace," traditional, arranged by Johnny Cash.
PERFORMER
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
An Exile
September Country
Release Date:
18 November 1970
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Nashville, Tennessee: 12 October 1970
Los Angeles and New York openings: 18 November 1970
Production Date:
began 10 October 1969
Copyright Claimant:
John Frankenheimer Productions
Copyright Date:
1 October 1970
Copyright Number:
LP38184
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
GP
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
22513
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Pursuing a speeding pickup truck, Henry Tawes, a middle-aged sheriff in the small town of Sutton, Tennessee, encounters adolescents Buddy and Alma McCain. Alma later appears in his office, claiming to have been stranded in town by another brother, Clay. When Tawes drives her home, she seduces him. As the sheriff is bored by his simple wife, Ellen-Haney, and Alma's moonshiner father, Carl, desires legal protection, a passionate affair ensues. The arrival of federal agent Bascomb, however, complicates the arrangement, forcing the sheriff to demand destruction of the McCains' still. Meanwhile, sheriff's deputy Hunnicutt becomes suspicious of his supervisor. While investigating the McCains he attacks Alma and is killed by her family. Hoping to start a new life with Alma in California, the lawman disposes of the deputy's corpse in the reservoir. Upon returning, he discovers the McCains departed. Tawes successfully pursues the family, only to learn that Alma is unwilling to join him. Slashing Tawes with a baling hook, she leaves her wounded lover on the ... +


Pursuing a speeding pickup truck, Henry Tawes, a middle-aged sheriff in the small town of Sutton, Tennessee, encounters adolescents Buddy and Alma McCain. Alma later appears in his office, claiming to have been stranded in town by another brother, Clay. When Tawes drives her home, she seduces him. As the sheriff is bored by his simple wife, Ellen-Haney, and Alma's moonshiner father, Carl, desires legal protection, a passionate affair ensues. The arrival of federal agent Bascomb, however, complicates the arrangement, forcing the sheriff to demand destruction of the McCains' still. Meanwhile, sheriff's deputy Hunnicutt becomes suspicious of his supervisor. While investigating the McCains he attacks Alma and is killed by her family. Hoping to start a new life with Alma in California, the lawman disposes of the deputy's corpse in the reservoir. Upon returning, he discovers the McCains departed. Tawes successfully pursues the family, only to learn that Alma is unwilling to join him. Slashing Tawes with a baling hook, she leaves her wounded lover on the highway. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.