If you are a fan of music, you will totally dig the Hank Garland “fictional” biopic Crazy. It doesn’t matter if you have never heard of him before—I sure hadn’t. It doesn’t matter if you are not a fan of country music, or even jazz. If you appreciate the artistry of musicianship, you’ll find something to enjoy in this film.
Waylon Payne plays Hank Garland, a talented guitar player who becomes a go-to backup guy for Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry in its heyday of the 1940s and 50s. Just a young man when he gets his first break on the show, he is soon one of the star players of what is basically the show’s “house band”. A ladies man and in-demand Nashville studio musician, Garland’s star quickly skyrockets.
But on a tour to Chicago, Garland’s world changes with two discoveries: Jazz, played by fantastic black musicians, and (of course) a beautiful woman named Evelyn (Ali Larter) who becomes his wife. Intrigued by Jazz, Garland becomes a controversial character in the Nashville music circles for playing with black musicians, and a lot of people are not happy about his “betrayal” to the community. You’d think that the Nashville scene is full of thugs and gangsters who are ready to smash some heads, but considering Hank’s fate in real life, there is probably some truth to the story.
I liked the fact that (for me at least) that both Garland and the actor who plays him were unknowns. It is easy to fall into complete believability in the story, as the filmmakers obviously respect and adore their subject. There are “cameos” by big names like Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Eddy Arnold, Conway Twitty, and Roy Orbison, among others, but they never come across as caricatures. The music is unsurprisingly fantastic, with a lot of love going into the recreation of sessions and shows (watch for Shawn Colvin as the wedding singer!). And I dare you to not go surfing for Hank Garland music when you’re done with the film. Shoot, I’ll make it easy for you: Hank Garland – Sugarfoot Rag