Wednesday, July 7, 2010
ROAD TO NASHVILLE
Similar in structure to Second Fiddle To A String Guitar, Road To Nashville (RTN) is a collection of musical performances tied together with a simple plot. Doodles Weaver playing a character named Feetlebaum (a nod to his character Professor Feetlebaum from his stint in The Spike Jones Band) is sent to Nashville to sign acts for a country music movie his boss is going to produce. Doodles' boss also tells him to add Colonel to his name, because he'll get more respect down South.
Connie Smith meets Doodles at the airport at the request of Marty Robbins (also the associate producer of the movie). Connie takes Doodles to the studio to meet Marty, who it seems is always too busy singing or driving his race car to stop long enough to sign a contract. In the meantime, Connie tours Doodles around the studio meeting other country acts. This of course, sets up the musical performances.
RTN has performances by The Stonemans, Waylon Jennings, Don Winters, Bobby Sykes, comedy act Quinine Gumstump and Buck, Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, Bill Phillips, Faron Young, Lefty Frizzell, Connie Smith, Marty Robbins, Margie Singleton, Bill Anderson, Norma Jean, Dottie West, Webb Pierce, The Stonemans, Hank Snow, The Osbourne Brothers, Porter Wagoner, The Carter Family and Johnny Cash. Surprisingly, most of the performances in RTN appear to be sung live instead of lip synched. This makes me surmise that the movie actually used a real Nashville studio for filming.
There are two oddities in the movie: Instead of Doodles, Ralph Emery starts introducing acts in the last part of the movie. It doesn't appear Ralph's part was taped at the same time as some of the acts he introduces. Ralph, who was a top Nashville DJ, was probably added to get some free publicity for the movie when it was released, the same as the DJs in Jamboree. Speaking of no reason to be in the movie...Doodles' boss is talking to him on the phone and a secretary brings him coffee. All I could think was "somebody was promised a part in the movie". She even made the lobby card, as you can see in the bottom left picture in the photo above.
My only problem with the movie is the copy that I saw was in "pan and scan". While this wasn't a problem for the solo singers, it caused problems with the group acts. For example, when The Stonemans appear Pop is sitting in a chair to the side of the group and he is cut almost completely out of the picture due to the pan and scan (see video below).
As with any of these music based movies, you will have your own favorites when viewing. Everybody was good in RTN, but I particularly liked The Stonemans (especially Donna giving the mandolin a hell of a workout), Porter Wagoner with Norma Jean, seeing Waylon Jennings pre-outlaw, and a very gaunt Johnny Cash singing "Were You There When They Crucified My Lord"
I couldn't find a trailer for Road To Nashville, but below is a video of one of The Stonemans performance from the movie. There are some more videos of different artists from the movie, if interested just search the movie title on youtube.