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This 1970s Outlaw Country Movie Makes Crazy Heart Look Like Bambi

Genre: Drama, Country

Directed by Daryl Duke

Starring Rip Torn, Ahna Capri, and Elayne Heilveil

Crazy Heart is a great movie, but Crazy Heart is not outlaw country. While Jeff Bridges does a great job playing a romanticized version of a member of the cultural movement, Rip Torn shows you the real thing. Maybe it’s because Payday was a product of the 70s — an era when filmmakers trusted that their audience had a mental capacity greater than a toddler. They showed you the ugly and Payday is as ugly as it gets.

The movie opens on a performance by Maury Dann, played by Rip Torn, in a middle-of-nowhere honky-tonk. He has a Nashville smile that tells you his records are just as safe for you as they are for your mother. After the performance, he leads a fan to his parked car and rapes her. This is the real Maury Dann. He might not be a full-fledged rock star by venue, but that never stops him from doing what he wants, when he wants, and to whomever he wants.

After a stop at the motel he’s staying at, he hits the road with his crew (and his girlfriend). He doesn’t ride around in a fancy tour bus, just the back of Cadillac. As the movie progresses, you quickly see the desperate side of a musician as he tries to keep his career from sputtering into oblivion. He even tries to bribe a DJ with liquor to keep his records on the air. It’s a world of drugs, sex, estranged wives, and during an especially heartbreaking scene, not even knowing the age of your own kids. For anyone who shuns country music and culture, this is the movie to watch to truly understand the lifestyle that serves as its foundation. It might even remind you of hip hop and with some thinking, that shouldn’t come as a shock.

Maury is a true anti-hero, the kind we don’t get anymore. His only redeeming factor is that he charms us, in the same way that Alex does in A Clockwork Orange. Maybe society doesn’t want to admit to being entertained by evil and that’s why we don’t get movies like this anymore.

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