Picks and Pans Review: Honkytonk Man

updated 01/24/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/24/1983 AT 01:00 AM EST

Clint Eastwood has traded in his six-shooter for a six-string Gibson guitar to portray a tubercular, down-and-out country songwriter driving out of Dust Bowl Depression toward the dream of a Grand Ole Opry audition in Nashville in the 1930s. Along for the ride is his wide-eyed nephew, played with familiar Eastwood impassivity by his real-life son, Kyle, 14. The story is about the trip to Music City, and along the way Uncle Clint shows the awestruck kid how to drink, visit whores, bribe troopers and duck a shotgun marriage. The kid reciprocates—helping Unc steal some chickens, flee a jail and elude a bull. Because Eastwood is so predictably tough and taciturn, he loses something after two hours. And while cinematographer Bruce Surtees has created some gorgeous images, director Eastwood hasn't mined the picaresque potential of the plot. There is little action, and when Eastwood croons, it's in a style as authentically down-home as Merv Griffin's. (PG)

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