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rovdog's avatar

What was or wasn't true in the film "Walk The Line"?

Asked by rovdog (842points) February 12th, 2010


That seems like a terrible way to ask a question- oh well. I’m curious for anyone who knows about the life of Johnny Cash- what events in the film were not true or changed for dramatic effect. I just saw it for the first time (I know) and I loved it, actually. But some events seemed more difficult to believe that they actually happened that way.

Sub Questions:

1. Was there really a tour that included Jerry Lee Lewis, June Carter, Johnny Cash, and Elvis. (was Buddy Holly there too, thought I saw him?)

2. Did he actually walk to the Carter house from Nashville?

3. Did he collapse in front of the house he bought on the lake?

4. Did he really write “folsom prison” when he was in the air force based on seeing it in a newsreel.

5. Did his brother die in an accident with a saw while he went fishing?

Ahh there are a few others but that’s probably good for now.

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9 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

Well, I’m pretty sure Joaquin Phoenix isn’t really Johnny Cash…..

Dr_C's avatar

@cheebdragon you take that back!

Ok… The thing to remember is that the film focuses on Cash’s younger life, his romance with June Carter, and his ascent to the country music scene, with material taken from his autobiographies. It details Johnny Cash’s life from his growing up as the son of a cotton picker in Dyess, Arkansas, dealing with the death of his brother, his drug addiction, subsequent rescue by future wife June Carter, and his famous concert at Folsom State Prison.So I will answer your question point by point (something I rarely do):

#1: Cash’s band auditions for Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records. As they play a pedestrian gospel song (“I Was There When It Happened”), Phillips interrupts and asks Cash to play a song that he really feels. As a result, Cash and his band play “Folsom Prison Blues,” and Phillips accepts it. The performance results in a contract, in fulfillment of which Cash begins touring in 1955 (as Johnny Cash and the Tennessee Two) with other young Sun artists. Among those he meets on the tour – along with Jerry Lee Lewis, Roy Orbison, Carl Perkins, Waylon Jennings and Elvis Presley – is June Carter, who performs as both a singer and a comedian. so yes the tour existed.

#2 & 3:After his separation from his wife brought on by drug abuse and an apparent relationship with June, Cash attempts to reconcile with June, which involves a long walk to her house (his car is in the shop and he has no cash to reclaim it), but he collapses in the rain. Later, he sees a large house near a lake in Hendersonville, Tennessee, and promptly buys it. His parents, and the extended Carter family (June, her daughters and her parents, Maybelle and Ezra) arrive for Thanksgiving, at which time Ray dismisses Cash’s achievements and behavior, citing as an example of Cash’s carelessness, an expensive tractor stuck in view of the house. After a tense meal, Cash decides to prove his father wrong by freeing the tractor. June and her family watch in concern as Cash struggles with the machine; June’s mother, apparently aware of her daughter’s true feelings toward Cash, encourages her to go help him, because “he’s mixed up.” June helps Cash when the tractor goes into the lake. After a long detoxification period, June sits with Cash. He wakes up and she gives him some fresh fruit. He then tells her that she’s “an angel.” June, however, admits that she’s made mistakes as well. June then reveals that she, and God, have given Cash a second chance and he cleans himself up.

#4: In 1952, Cash joins the Air Force and is posted to Germany. He seems not to enjoy his time there, but finds solace in playing a guitar he buys and writing songs – one of which will become “Folsom Prison Blues,” inspired by a B-movie shown to the troops, Inside the Walls of Folsom Prison.

#5: In 1944, Johnny (then known as “J.R.”) and his brother Jack are listening to a young June Carter on the radio. The brothers discuss their respective strengths and weaknesses with regard to the Bible and hymns. Jack, who is training to become a pastor, and therefore “needs to know the Bible front to back,” is much better at recalling the words and stories of the Bible. J.R., who can sing well like his mother, is adept with the hymns they sing at church. Jack is sawing wood on a job for a neighbor with J.R. When Jack says to J.R. to go on and fish. He is later taken home by his father, Ray, and they find out Jack has been fatally injured in an accident with the saw. J.R.‘s relationship with his father, already strained, becomes much more difficult after Jack’s death.

Hope this helps.

Blondesjon's avatar

Actually Johnny shot his brother . . . just to watch him die.

Dr_C's avatar

@Blondesjon awesome song…

rovdog's avatar


That does help thank you and thanks for answering seriously and taking the time- your answer to question 1 certainly does- oh so that’s Roy Orbison- that makes more sense. I wish that we had seen that it was Sun records, but I guess we can infer that. There have been seemingly endless scenes in other films of future stars walking up to Sun records.

For your other answers you are basically recounting what I remember from the film so are you saying that pretty much all of that is true?

Dr_C's avatar

@rovdog pretty much.

rovdog's avatar

Did he propose on stage?

Dr_C's avatar

@rovdog he proposed a bunch of times… the one that stuck was on stage as in the movie.

rovdog's avatar

wow… that’s cool. I saw that scene and thought it had to be made up- it was just the perfect ending to the film.

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