This film plays like a docudrama, but it is all too real for Jonathan who barely knew his father and didn't think his father knew him or his brother.
Saul was so closely tied to Johnny that he even introduced Cash to his future wife, June Carter.
As he was growing up, Jonathan's father was almost always out on the road with Johnny, who was a demanding man, not much like the Johnny Cash we all thought we knew. However, that is true with most celebrities. It isn't a big deal until you have to be the one to deal with them. Saul didn't deal very well, after years of bailing Cash out of jail, saving him from the law and taking phone calls at all times of the day and night, Cash and Saul parted ways. This film opens with Saul committing suicide.
Jonathan, as many adult children do, wanted to know who his father was. Actually, he didn't want to, but felt compelled to after a key was discovered that opened a storage locker. It took a few times of going to the locker and leaving before he actually opened the locker to view the treasures inside. Gold records from Johnny's big hits, posters, records and everything else that a manager would save from their biggest star's career. With all that was in that locker, the most interesting to Jonathan was a huge amount of tapes that Saul had made during years of being with Johnny and away from his family.
Holiff found out many things he didn't know. With everything he found out his father did for Johnny Cash, one of the biggest burdens was the cover Johnny's ass. He was getting a name in show business "no show Johnny." It was up to Saul to cover, to make excuses, to pay back money that Johnny was paid to play whichever venue he shrugged off. Then, it became hard for Saul to get Johnny any work at all due to his history of not only no showing up, but when he did show up, he was often too high to perform.
Cash's habit became so severe that according to Saul's tapes, he was downing 100 pills a day and a case of beer.
Johnny did go to rehab, probably a few times and he did kick the drugs and booze. However, then he went too far the other way, become a born-again Christian and eventually a fundamentalist. This turned out to be almost as bad. Johnny and June spent time going to Israel. Johnny became obsessed with doing a show of him in the Holy Land doing Christian music and not the hits that made his career.
Also on the tapes are some precious words from a father to his son via a tape.
I called this review "My Father and the Man in Black" co-starring Johnny Cash, because it really isn't about Johnny at all, it's about a father and son, Jonathan and Saul. Johnny is simply the back drop for this story.
This whole film is beautifully made. It's well directed, the music is good and I don't mean just Johnny's.
"My Father and the Man in Black" has done well on the festival circuit:
- **2013 Buffalo Niagara Film Festival (Winner, Best Documentary) **
- **2013 Tiburon International Film Festival (Winner, Orson Welles Award) **
- **2013 Available Light Film Festival (Winner, Best Documentary) **
- **2013 Lewiston Auburn Film Festival (Winner, Best Documentary) **
- **2013 Memphis International Film & Music Festival (Winner, Best Documentary) **
- **2012 EDINDOCS (Winner, Best Documentary) **
- **2012 RADAR Hamburg International (Winner, Best Documentary) **
- **2012 Vancouver International Film Festival (Top 10 Audience Favorite) **
- **2012 Calgary International Film Festival (Top 10 Audience Award) **
- **2013 Transmissions Film and Music Festival (Official Selection) **
- **2013 Madrid International Film Festival (Official Selection) **
- **2013 Los Angeles Jewish Film Festival (Official Selection)**
- **2013 Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles (Official Selection)
- **2013 San Francisco Jewish Film Festival (Official Selection) **
- **2013 CBGB Music & Film Festival (Official Selection) **
- **2013 The Other Venice Film Festival (Official Selection) **
- **2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival (Official Selection) **
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Official website for "My Father and the Man in Black"