Saw this the other day and lamely put it on the back burner; as it turns out, the story didn’t make the rounds as we had expected and I just can’t rest easy until I give Hank his due.
The biopic genre expands by one more important film with one about country legend Hank Williams, reports Variety. Not a bad choice, though the story’s been told before, but the man’s life was certainly filmworthy: Screenwriter Marc Abraham explained “He was the first real star who went down as the result of his lifestyle, succeeded by Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain. He destroyed himself, but for six years leading to his death, Hank had six songs each year in the top 10.”
Williams’s whole life was remarkable: As a young boy in Alabama in the late twenties or early thirties, he made an unusual friend in Tee-Tot (Rufus Payne), a street musician who gave him “all the music training [he] ever had,” and who is regarded as “the source of the noticeable blues thread running through Hank’s music” (official bio). Williams achieved enormous success and became one of the forefathers of country music, cited as a major influence by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and pretty much all of the greatest songwriters of the past 50 years.
Williams’s dark side stemmed from his medical condition, spina bifida, the pain of which he tried to escape by turning to morphine and alcohol. After succumbing to addiction to both substances, he spun out of control and finally died at age 29, either on New Year’s Eve in 1952 or New Year’s Day, 1953. The timing and cause of his death remain unknown: some say he died in the backseat of his Cadillac in the early hours of January 1, being chauffered to a show he was to perform that afternoon; others say he died in a hotel in the late hours of December 31, after which his body was placed in the car and driven until the official discovery of his death on the road.
At any rate, the film’s bound to have a fantastic soundtrack. Perhaps soon we’ll start hearing rumors about who will play Williams himself. My vote for the lead is my friend Fancy Dan.