Clint and Kyle Eastwood
There’s a lot in Honkytonk Man to make you squirm, and not just because you have to listen to Clint Eastwood rasp out some country-western tunes. (You’d think he’d have learned his lesson after Paint Your Wagon.) He’s Red Stovall, a self-destructive, roguish, Hank Williams-esque crooner hoping to reach Nashville to record his songs before tuberculosis claims his pipes and his life. Kyle plays his 14-year-old nephew Whit, who’s a better driver than his uncle and who sees Red’s quest as an opportunity for him to escape from the family’s Dust Bowl Oklahoma farm.
Along the way, Red teaches him some dubious moral lessons and oversees the loss of Kyle’s virginity in a whorehouse. It’s hard to watch that sequence without wondering what in the world Clint, who directed and produced the film in addition to casting his own son, thought and felt while directing Kyle’s performance in the scene. Then again, in real life, Kyle grew up to be a jazz bassist and did soundtrack work on a number of his father’s films. So maybe Clint knew what he was doing.
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