“Walk The Line” with Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash was released in 2005. By then, perhaps the most charismatic and genre-bending star country music had ever produced had been dead for two years. However, Cash had been working on the script with director and screenwriter James Mangold (“Logan”) for the last few years before his death.
He was also actively involved in the selection of the main actor. The singer has admired Joaquin Phoenix since seeing his Oscar-nominated performance in Gladiator. The mime felt honored, but initially wasn’t sure if he was the right man for the role. After all, Cash was a whopping 15 centimeters taller than him and, even as a young man, had a much stockier stature. However, the musician insisted that Phoenix should reconsider. Finally, shortly before Cash died, he finally agreed. Filming started a year later.
“Walk The Line” is on rbb today, September 29, 2022 at 8:15 p.m. The broadcaster offers a repeat that same night at 1.55 a.m. If both dates don’t suit you or you prefer to enjoy the work in the original English version, you can do so as part of your Disney+ subscription:
» “Walk The Line” on Disney+*
Alternatively, the film is available on Blu-ray or DVD from online retailers such as Amazon:
» “Walk The Line” as Blu-ray/DVD at Amazon*
In our 4-star review of “Walk The Line”, Jürgen Armbruster calls the whole thing “a worthy film adaptation of the life of a great man”. Throughout his writing, the DashFUN reviewer explicitly praises the vocal performances of Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon (“Big Little Lies”), played by Cash’s wife, June Carter. Both of them interpreted all the songs themselves. A courageous step, but one that would really pay off. In the numerous vocal passages, an unbelievably intense mood arises that knows how to inspire. Sometimes there are really magical moments.
» The soundtrack album “Walk The Line” on Amazon*
In the mid-1950s in Memphis, Tennessee, young Johnny Cash is returning home from West Germany after completing his military service. There he marries his childhood sweetheart Vivian (Ginnifer Goodwin) and tries to start a career as a gospel musician. After a difficult start, he succeeds with the help of producer Sam Phillips (Dallas Roberts) in developing his own sound somewhere between country and rockabilly. A first hit is quickly followed by others.
Cash goes on national tours with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis (Waylon Payne) and Elvis Presley (Tyler Hilton). He meets June Carter (Reese Witherspoon) and immediately feels an emotional connection to her. The singer, who is also married, is equally attracted to him but doesn’t want to be more than a duet partner for the time being.
With increasing success, Cash gives more and more to alcohol and, above all, stimulants. Due to his now severe addiction, Carter refuses to tour with him any further. Which only makes him fall even lower. Soon after, Cash’s marriage ends in divorce and he is arrested for drug possession. Physically and mentally on the edge, the talented artist’s career and private life seem to have finally been ruined…
Walk The Line was made on a budget of $28 million. In global cinemas, it then grossed almost 187 million worldwide. Which made it a massive hit for producing studio Fox 2000 Pictures. For ten years, until it was finally replaced by “Straight Outta Compton”, the work was the most successful music biopic in film history.
At the 2006 Academy Awards, Reese Witherspoon received the Oscar for Best Actress, while Joaquin Phoenix, costume design, editing and sound mixing were all at least nominated. At the same year’s Golden Globe Awards, Walk The Line was named best film in the musical or comedy category. In addition, Witherspoon and Phoenix each received awards for best leading actor. On top of that, the film, its actors and makers received a long list of other awards, mostly from critics’ associations.
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