Your Cheatin’ Heart (1964)

Your Cheatin’ Heart (1964)

“You’re the king, and you’re killing yourself — why?!”

Shortly after marrying singer Audrey Williams (Susan Oliver), country musician Hank Williams (George Hamilton) rises in fame and fortune — but his alcoholism poses a threat to his marriage, career, and health.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Alcoholism and Drug Addiction
  • Biopics
  • George Hamilton Films
  • Musicians
  • Red Buttons Films
  • Rex Ingram Films

George Hamilton was cast as the lead in this biopic about famed country-western singer Hank Williams after befriending Williams’ widow, who was also interested in advocating on behalf of her son (Hank Williams, Jr.) dubbing the singing. The resulting film — a surprise hit for MGM — is a highly dramatized but reasonably powerful overview of this young star’s too-short life (he died at just 29 years old), which seems to have been dominated by tensions between his own wish to live a simple existence:

… and his wife’s desire for money and fame. We don’t see when or how Hank’s alcoholism first began, but it quickly overshadows all other considerations — and we can clearly see the writing on the wall of his downfall.

Arthur O’Connell plays Fred Rose, co-creator of Nashville’s first music publishing company, Acuff-Rose Music, which helped bring Williams to fame:

… and Red Buttons stars as a (fictional) loyal friend of Hank’s to the end.

I didn’t leave this film feeling like I learned very much about Williams, other than being reminded that he was behind such hits as “Hey, Good Lookin'”, “Cold, Cold Heart” and — of course — the title song; but it should be noted that a more recent attempt at telling his life story apparently wasn’t all that successful, either.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • George Hamilton as Hank Williams

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a one-time look. Listed as a Sleeper in the back of Peary’s book.


One thought on “Your Cheatin’ Heart (1964)

  1. First viewing (3/28/21). Ugh. Skip it.

    Crudely written biopic, said to be largely sanitized (gee, I’m shocked; #notshocked).

    By turns, melodramatic and uber-sentimental, the film gives the impression that Williams was a man of minimal talent who fell to drink due to the pressure of being famous. (Apparently drugs were also involved but there’s no mention of that.)

    As tiresome as it is tedious.

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