Too downbeat for its own good, I WALK THE LINE forgets it needs an audience. The one reason to watch is the astonishing, unsung Weld, the modern Louise Brooks, who can suggest amorality, skewed innocence and ageless sensuality--she played nymphets through her thirties with infinite
ease--that makes Bardot pale. Her tragedy is that she never chose a commercially successful script.
I WALK THE LINE presents haggard but handsome Peck as a backwoods Tennessee sheriff who falls in love with teenager Weld. Her father, Meeker, is a moonshiner, and Peck becomes involved in the illicit operations, making sure his men and federal agents stay clear of the stills. When deputy Durning
stumbles upon the still, Meeker kills him, and Peck becomes an accomplice to the crime.
Frankenheimer does an apt job of creating the bleak mood, but the film doesn't seem to have anywhere it wants to go. There are five songs, including the title track, from the inimitable Johnny Cash that help capture the strangely compelling mountain mood.
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