Honkytonk Man (1982)

PG | 122 mins | Drama | 15 December 1982

Director:

Clint Eastwood

Writer:

Clancy Carlile

Producer:

Clint Eastwood

Cinematographer:

Bruce Surtees

Production Designer:

Edward Carfagno

Production Company:

Warner Bros. Pictures
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HISTORY

       Despite production notes’ claim that that producer-director-star Clint Eastwood was first recommended the Clancy Carlile’s 1980 novel, Honkytonk Man, by a friend, the 15 Sep 1980 edition of Publishers Weekly reported that Eastwood’s agent, Leonard Hirshan, suggested the project to his client. Warner Bros. Pictures and Columbia Pictures competed for the property, before Warner Bros. settled on a $400,000 deal with publisher Simon & Schuster that included film rights to the novel and a first draft screenplay by Carlile. According to production notes, Eastwood read the story and felt that the role of “Whit” suited his then-fourteen-year-old son, Kyle Eastwood, who would be out of school and available for filming during the summer. A 6 Jul 1982 DV article announced a production start date of 13 Jul 1982, for an anticipated release near Christmas of that year, while a 28 Jul 1982 DV news item reported that principal photography would take place Sep 1982, in TN.
       In addition to Nashville, TN, production notes included Carson City, NV; Genoa, NV; Dayton, NV; Sonora, CA; and Sacramento, CA, among the filming locations. 1930s and 1940s-era buildings in the Sacramento farmland served as the “Wagoner” family farmhouse, as well as the grocery store and diner settings. While working in NV, Eastwood and his crew canceled their originally-scheduled trip to Memphis, TN, to shoot a nightclub scene, opting instead to use an abandoned warehouse in Carson City. The sudden change reportedly saved two days of filming time.
       Production notes also indicated that the 1937 Lincoln automobile used in the movie, one of only fourteen models ever made, was restored by antique car ...

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       Despite production notes’ claim that that producer-director-star Clint Eastwood was first recommended the Clancy Carlile’s 1980 novel, Honkytonk Man, by a friend, the 15 Sep 1980 edition of Publishers Weekly reported that Eastwood’s agent, Leonard Hirshan, suggested the project to his client. Warner Bros. Pictures and Columbia Pictures competed for the property, before Warner Bros. settled on a $400,000 deal with publisher Simon & Schuster that included film rights to the novel and a first draft screenplay by Carlile. According to production notes, Eastwood read the story and felt that the role of “Whit” suited his then-fourteen-year-old son, Kyle Eastwood, who would be out of school and available for filming during the summer. A 6 Jul 1982 DV article announced a production start date of 13 Jul 1982, for an anticipated release near Christmas of that year, while a 28 Jul 1982 DV news item reported that principal photography would take place Sep 1982, in TN.
       In addition to Nashville, TN, production notes included Carson City, NV; Genoa, NV; Dayton, NV; Sonora, CA; and Sacramento, CA, among the filming locations. 1930s and 1940s-era buildings in the Sacramento farmland served as the “Wagoner” family farmhouse, as well as the grocery store and diner settings. While working in NV, Eastwood and his crew canceled their originally-scheduled trip to Memphis, TN, to shoot a nightclub scene, opting instead to use an abandoned warehouse in Carson City. The sudden change reportedly saved two days of filming time.
       Production notes also indicated that the 1937 Lincoln automobile used in the movie, one of only fourteen models ever made, was restored by antique car expert Tom Powels. It was in this vehicle, during preparation for the picture, that Kyle Eastwood first learned to drive.
       An article in the 13 Nov 1982 issue of Billboard magazine listed that the film’s release date would be 17 Dec 1982, in 750 theaters. The article also indicated that Warner Bros. had allotted a $250,000 budget exclusively for publicizing the film’s music through radio and retail promotions. In addition, Warner Bros. planned a screening of the film in Nashville, TN, for late Nov 1982. A 15 Dec 1982 Var brief stated that the film opened that day at the Mann’s Fox Hollywood and Mann’s Westwood theaters, as well as various locations and drive-in screens around the Los Angeles, CA, area.
       A 29 Dec 1982 Var news story reported that the Film Advisory Board named Kyle Eastwood the Most Promising Newcomer for his motion picture debut in Honkytonk Man.
       Various contemporary sources spelled the title as Honky Tonk Man.
      Although the song titles are not included in end credits, production notes in AMPAS library files indicated that various country music artists appeared onscreen as cast members, performing their popular songs: David Frizzell and Shelly West sing “Please Surrender;” while Porter Wagoner sings “Turn The Pencil Over.” Frizzell appears again alongside John Andersen, Clint Eastwood, and Marty Robbins to sing “In The Jailhouse Now,” while Ray Price sings “San Antonio Rose” and “One Fiddle, Two Fiddle,” accompanied by Johnny Gimbal and The Texas Swing Band. The document referred to Linda Hopkins’s song “The Blues Come Around” as “When The Blues Come Around This Time.” In addition, characters sing “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Billboard
13 Nov 1982
p. 6
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1982
p. 1, 3, 10
Daily Variety
28 Jul 1982
---
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 1982
p. 8, 16
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1982
p. 1
New York Times
15 Dec 1982
p. 29
Publishers Weekly
15 Sep 1980
---
Variety
15 Var 1982
---
Variety
15 Dec 1982
p. 16
Variety
29 Dec 1982
p. 44
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Key grip
2d grip
Dolly grip
Gaffer
Best boy
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Const coord
Prop master
Stand-by painter
COSTUMES
Cost supv
Women's ward
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus cond
Mus ed
SOUND
Sd eff ed
Bob Henderson
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd mixer
Boom man
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Titles and opticals
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting exec
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Unit pub
Prod secy
Auditor
Secy to the prods
Secy to the prods
First aid
First aid
Wrangler
COLOR PERSONNEL
[Col by]
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Honkytonk Man by Clancy Carlile (New York, 1980).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Honky Tonk Man
Release Date:
15 December 1982
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 15 Dec 1982
Production Date:
began summer 1982 in Nashville, TN; Carson City, Genoa, and Dayton, NV; Sonora and Sacramento, CA
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Warner Brothers, Inc.
28 February 1983
PA165766
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® Cameras by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
122
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26873
SYNOPSIS

During a 1930s dust storm, Red Stovall drunkenly crashes his car into the windmill outside of his sister Emmy Wagoner’s Oklahoma farmhouse. Emmy, her husband, Virgil, and her father-in-law, Grandpa, carry Red’s unconscious body inside. After Red’s fourteen-year-old nephew, Whit, retrieves Red’s guitar and a letter from the back seat, the family determines that Red is on his way to Nashville, Tennessee, to audition as a singer in the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast. While Red rests, the family resumes their chores, and Whit cleans Red’s car. Later, Red allows Whit to drive the family home from church, calling the boy by the nickname “Hoss.” Over dinner, Virgil discusses his plans to move to California to pick cotton, but says that, due to the Depression, he cannot find the money. Grandpa offers to accompany Red on his drive east, eager to return to his hometown in Tennessee. The next day, Red, feverish from alcohol withdrawal, snaps at Whit while teaching the boy how to tune his guitar. In order to keep her brother from drinking and driving, Emmy allows Whit to drive Red to one of his local performances. At a saloon, Red performs for the crowd. After the show, Whit and his uncle steal chickens from a nearby coop, but Red knocks over a fence, causing the farmer to chase them with a shotgun. They escape, sell their loot, and split the earnings. The next morning, however, two police officers find alcohol and chicken feathers in Red’s car, and arrest him. That night, Whit breaks Red out of jail and they return home. Red attests to Whit’s talent as a musician and asks permission to bring the boy ...

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During a 1930s dust storm, Red Stovall drunkenly crashes his car into the windmill outside of his sister Emmy Wagoner’s Oklahoma farmhouse. Emmy, her husband, Virgil, and her father-in-law, Grandpa, carry Red’s unconscious body inside. After Red’s fourteen-year-old nephew, Whit, retrieves Red’s guitar and a letter from the back seat, the family determines that Red is on his way to Nashville, Tennessee, to audition as a singer in the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast. While Red rests, the family resumes their chores, and Whit cleans Red’s car. Later, Red allows Whit to drive the family home from church, calling the boy by the nickname “Hoss.” Over dinner, Virgil discusses his plans to move to California to pick cotton, but says that, due to the Depression, he cannot find the money. Grandpa offers to accompany Red on his drive east, eager to return to his hometown in Tennessee. The next day, Red, feverish from alcohol withdrawal, snaps at Whit while teaching the boy how to tune his guitar. In order to keep her brother from drinking and driving, Emmy allows Whit to drive Red to one of his local performances. At a saloon, Red performs for the crowd. After the show, Whit and his uncle steal chickens from a nearby coop, but Red knocks over a fence, causing the farmer to chase them with a shotgun. They escape, sell their loot, and split the earnings. The next morning, however, two police officers find alcohol and chicken feathers in Red’s car, and arrest him. That night, Whit breaks Red out of jail and they return home. Red attests to Whit’s talent as a musician and asks permission to bring the boy to Nashville, but Emmy and Virgil refuse. The next morning, Emma concedes to Whit’s plea, and Whit, Red, and Grandpa leave for Tulsa, Oklahoma, where Red intends to collect a $100 debt from a man named Durwood Arnspringer. They stop to survey the site of a horse race that Grandpa once attended in 1893, and Red bathes in a tub on the side of the road. When a steer attacks, Whit distracts the animal with Red’s shirt, and his uncle is saved. As Whit drives, he helps Red compose song lyrics. Red hears a radio announcement mentioning Bob Wills, and Red remembers that the country music performer may have information about Arnspringer. At a nearby radio station, Bob Wills instructs Red to visit the town brothel; the owner, Miss Maud, tells Red the location of Arnspringer’s weekly card game. Red offers to buy a prostitute for Whit, but Miss Maud refuses to serve children. One of the prostitutes, however, takes Whit to a room upstairs, and they have sex. Later that day, Red finds Arnspringer and demands payment. Unable to produce the money, Arnspringer offers Red to give a ride to Marlene Mooney, a young girl who has always dreamed of going to Nashville. When Red refuses, Arnspringer tells him to rob the local diner, claiming that he has an arrangement with the owner, who will fraudulently report the heist to the insurance company. When Red enters the diner with a gun, however, the owner screams, ignorant to the set-up. Red returns to Arnspringer’s house, demanding all of the money he has on hand. Meanwhile, Marlene convinces Whit to let her hide in the trunk, and after Red and Grandpa fall asleep, Whit pulls over so she can relieve herself. She tells the boy that she hopes to become a country singer, and admits that she wants to be romantically involved with Red. The next day, a police officer pulls Whit over, and discovers Marlene in the trunk. Red bribes the officer to avoid arrest for allowing a minor to drive without a license. Sometime later, the group stops at a mechanic to have the car repaired, but Red refuses to delay the trip. Marlene sings a song for Red, hoping that her talent will change his poor opinion of her, but he is disgusted by her amateurish voice. In the next town, the car breaks down, forcing them to wait two days for the necessary parts. Grandpa and Red plan to catch the bus to Tennessee and leave Whit to wait for the car, but Red misses the bus while drinking at the bar. That night, Red gets drunk and has sex with Marlene, and in the morning, she boldly insists that Red got her pregnant. Eager to get away, Red catches the next bus and instructs Whit to get rid of Marlene before meeting him at a club in Memphis, Tennessee. The boy arrives at the venue and watches his uncle play piano onstage, getting high off the patrons’ marijuana fumes. Whit reveals that he left Marlene at the bus station, but believes she is still headed toward Nashville. Later, in the car, Red tells Whit about his love affair with a married woman, who left him while pregnant with his child. He cites the romance as the only time he was ever happy in his life, but he expresses no desire to see his daughter. At the audition, the judges refuse to hear most of Red’s songs due to their vulgar content, so Red sings a song about lost love, called “Honkytonk Man.” When Red excuses himself from the stage with a coughing fit, the judges eliminate him from consideration. However, a New York City talent agent named Henry Axle offers Red a recording deal that will earn him $20 per record. The next day, Red records multiple songs, but takes frequent breaks to rest his ailing voice. Henry approaches Whit about Red’s condition, forcing the boy to admit that a doctor told Red he would die unless he stops singing. Henry believes that Red continues to sing because it is his last chance to “be somebody.” In the studio, Red collapses, and the producers bring in another singer to finish the song. After they dismiss Red for the night, Marlene visits him in the motel room. When Red begins coughing, Marlene calls for the doctor, who announces that Red does not have long to live. In the morning, Red dies embracing Marlene, whispering the name of his former lover. At his funeral, Whit plays Red’s guitar and sings “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Afterward, Marlene asks to travel with Whit to California, and a couple in the cemetery listens to “Honkytonk Man” on their car radio.

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

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