Crazy (2007)

Crazy%201%20edit.jpgDirector/Screenwriter: Rick Bieber

2008 Big Island Film Festival

By Marilyn Ferdinand

It’s not often that a musician becomes a legend in both country and jazz genres, but Hank Garland was no ordinary musician. A South Carolina native, Garland went to Nashville to earn his fortune. He became a valued session man who played with Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, and others. By hanging out in blues joints, he became familiar with the roots of jazz. His successful tours of big northern cities netted him his beautiful wife Evelyn and a reputation as a jazz guitarist. A horrific car crash damaged his brain and robbed him of his ability to play. Eventually, he taught himself to play again and came back to play briefly near the end of his life. This is a life that has been long overdue for a biopic. Now we have one—Crazy, which won the Best Feature at the Big Island Film Festival.

Unlike some biopics that span many years of a person’s life, Bieber chooses judiciously from the momentous meetings and milestones of Garland’s life. Beginning with Garland’s first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, Garland (Waylon Payne) gets some advice from Hank Williams, Sr. (Steve Vai): “Start with a fast one. That always gets the audience going.” Hank’s fluid guitar picking instantly attracts a distracted audience, and he’s on his way.

His career in Nashville as a session man and ladies man is going well, and he befriends a number of musicians, including Billy Byrd (Scott Michael Campbell). However, his inability to get credit—and pay—as a player and a songwriter frustrates him and begins a long enmity with record executive Ryan Bradford (David Conrad). He decides to go on tour in the north. He meets Evelyn (Ali Larter), who quickly beds and bewitches him. Evelyn comes to visit Hank in Nashville a couple of months later, and they are soon married. However, Hank’s growing success—a regular on The Eddie Arnold Show, on-call musician for Elvis, jazz stints in New York—makes Evelyn feel increasingly isolated. She has sex with Bradford, Hank receives the pictures, and he violently confronts Bradford. Evelyn goes to Chicago with their young daughter, then calls Hank to come pick her up. On the road, another car—presumably sent by Bradford—rams Hank’s car repeatedly and sends him down a ravine, crippling and nearly killing him. His slow recovery in Florida leads to the denouement on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry legends tribute, where he plays his signature song “Sugarfoot Rag”.

Crazy%203%20edit.jpg

There are many great moments in this film. For example, during Hank’s first appearance on stage, he notices that his pick guard reflects light into the audience. He uses the beam to choose his “date” for the evening. When he uses the trick on Evelyn and goes up to her after his set, she asks him if that always works on the girls back home. Nonetheless, she chooses him because of the light he projects from within to warm her empty life. In an inevitable scene in Hank’s hospital room, she tells him about this hope and then says she learned too late that the beam only shines when he plays, “and now you can’t even do that.”

Crazy%202%20edit.jpg

I felt sympathy for Evelyn at times, but my heart truly went out to Hank, whom she betrayed to his near death and then abandoned. Bieber directs his cast from the inside out, palpably capturing the light inside Hank/Payne and the ugliness in the beautiful Evelyn/Larter. One very touching scene has Billy Byrd, now a troubled alcoholic whom nobody will hire, drive to Hank’s home and sit outside in his car, forbidden by Evelyn from coming around anymore. Hank climbs in the car, and Billy pleads with him to take his guitar—the guitar they both invented—and hold it. “It’s the most beautiful thing I own, and if I keep it, I’m going to sell it. I really don’t want to sell it.” The love between the two men is deeply felt, and the scene plays with great emotional truth. Other standout performances include Lane Garrison as Hank’s brother Bill and John Fleck as Lloyd “Cowboy” Copas, the leader of Hank’s studio band.

The outstanding music includes original recordings of “Crazy” by Patsy Cline and Payne as Hank Garland doing “Sugarfoot Rag.” The closing credits show the real Hank doing the song as well. The story does rather play like a standard country biopic, with a crazy and troubled woman at its core. Nonetheless, no matter how the script was embellished for dramatic purposes, the film largely reflects an emotional reality that felt true.

The hubby and I saw the film right after the music biopic of Darby Crash and The Germs, What We Do Is Secret. While I preferred The Germs movie, I must give Crazy its props. These two films are well-done musician biopics and are worth your attention.

  • Debra Garland spoke:
    20th/05/2008 to 7:55 am

    BIG FLAW IN THIS ONE:
    “She has sex with Bradford, Hank receives the pictures, and he violently confronts Bradford. Evelyn goes to Chicago with their young daughter, then calls Hank to come pick her up. On the road, another car—presumably send by Bradford—rams Hank’s car repeatedly and sends him down a ravine, crippling and nearly killing him.”
    I am the “younger daughter” and this never happened!! I know what happened but according to my Dad’s brother, it wasn’t “sensational” enough.
    This is just one of the many “fictional tales told” about my family. No one came to my sister or I to verfiy any facts. No one asked they just wrote whatever they wanted.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    20th/05/2008 to 1:23 pm

    Debra – I’m thrilled you read this review and saw fit to comment. There are very, very few biopics that stick to the facts of a person’s life for the very reason you mention–facts often are not sensational. My comments relate to what was presented in the film, not to the veracity of the story. I never expect biopics to tell the truth, and the fact that the film itself declares that it was “inspired” by the life of Hank Garland is an admission that the facts were twisted or discarded.
    I didn’t believe the infidelity scene at all and consider it one of the big flaws in the film. I’m glad you can verify that this was not true. If you or your uncle would care to set the record straight with the true facts, I would be delighted to publish your comments.

  • Debra Garland spoke:
    21st/05/2008 to 12:22 pm

    This whole movie has caused me more pain and heartache than I can describe. (And no, my Dad’s brother would not be involved with any truths.)
    If you wouldn’t mind contacting me at my email address, I would like to learn more about this film. Where did you view this film?

  • Vincent spoke:
    21st/06/2008 to 11:08 am

    It’s unfortunate that whomever put this movie (which I’d never heard of before coming across this entry) together didn’t contact some members of the Garland family to make it more truthful and accurate…which doesn’t necessarily mean it would have become less dramatic. Those things are not mutually exclusive.
    Regarding music used in the film: does it include the Everly Brothers’ version of the McHugh-Fields standard “Don’t Blame Me”? It’s among the most beautiful recordings the Everlys ever made, and Hank Garland’s guitar intro can only be described as romantically ethereal.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    21st/06/2008 to 1:51 pm

    Hi Vincent – Welcome to the site. I checked the soundtrack listing, and it does not include “Don’t Blame Me” (nor do I remember hearing it). Here is the listing of what was played.
    As for the Garland family, apparently this film was made in close cooperation of Hank’s brother Bill, but not Hank’s children.

  • Randy Guidry spoke:
    20th/08/2008 to 3:13 pm

    I have been with Billy’s granddaughter for 27 years. I have spent many hours and special moments with Billy playing guitar and listening to his stories of the country music business. Billy loved to talk and revisit the early days of country music notwithstanding his disdain for the genre. Billy was a jazz guitarist first. Billy remembered everything. I was always amazed at how in detail he spoke of events and people.
    The greatest thing about Billy other than his great guitar playing was his accute memory and his love for story telling. He had all the good and bad on just about everyone in the industry during that period. Nashville music industry was and still is a small community. If he were alive to tell the story it would have been more accurate I assure you. His eldest daughter Beverly carries on that tradition. She was there and was privy to all of it. She like her father an an accute ability to remember details of people and events. Her mother is still living and can do the same.
    Ask me…I could tell you stories from Billy that would make all of them look bad and curl your toes…stories about drunks, druggies, peeping toms, adulterers…on and on. But, hey…it’s the music business.
    Billy Byrd was inaccurately portrayed in the movie Crazy. Hank Garland also was presented in a false light. The Byrd family was never solicited for input. They would have given a markedly different story. Billy Byrd was the most gracious man I have ever met. Shame for a bad portrayal of such a great man and contributor to the world of guitar and music in general. Up until his death he was a successful business man a wonderful husband, father, grandfather and most importantly a great human being. He was never a dibilitated drunk.

  • Randy Guidry spoke:
    20th/08/2008 to 3:15 pm

    Oh yeah…one last thing. We would like to get that guitar back..the one that Billy gave Hank to hold for him!!!

  • Bill Holley spoke:
    15th/10/2008 to 4:14 pm

    I’m married to Billy Bird’s oldest daughter, Beverly. Have been since 1962. I can tell you that the portrayal of Billy Byrd in the movie was a totally unreasonable and disgusting slam against a wonderful, kind man and one of the finest guitar players that ever lived. His portrayal in the movie as a loser lush is an outright lie and is a personal affront to anyone who knows him, especially his family. He drank, anyone who knew him knows that, alcohol was no stranger to country musicians in the 50′s and 60′s. But the last 20 years of his life were sober, and he ran a profitable business in Nashville. He and Hank Garland were best friends. Bill was a mentor to a number of musicians, including Hank. It’s too bad, this could have been a really good movie, but the lies and innuendos spoil it. It’s too bad the people who produced the film didn’t think it necessary to do any research on the characters in the film….

  • Nell spoke:
    10th/01/2009 to 1:18 pm

    A friend of mine says he went to Nashville in the early 70s to record. When he took a cab from the airport, his cabbie was Billy Byrd. They talked and Billy gave him his autograph. Would this have been the Billy Byrd who was portrayed in this film and also worked with Ernest Tubb?

  • Jerry L. Vandiver spoke:
    25th/08/2010 to 10:12 am

    This movie seemed in general to be a crock of B/S.

  • Jerry L. Vandiver spoke:
    26th/08/2010 to 8:15 am

    Please let me add to the above. I became friends over the phone, with Mr. Sugarfoot, He in Florida and I in Georgia. I am also a Guitarist and Patterned my style after the great Billy Byrd, whom was associated with The Great Mr. Ernest Tubb.. Hollywood thrives on anything to make a $$, even if it is lies and Mistortions of folks character and integrity. Thats why I referred to it ‘Crazy’ as B/S. In no way did I mean any dis-respect to Mr. Hank, Amy, Billy or any of Mr. Garlands Family or Friends.. The Movie got 1 thing Dead Right.. Hank wasnt the Best Guitarist in Nashville. ” He Was The Best In The World “. To Set The Standard Of A Guartist Of Perfection and The Epitomy of The Best- I would Look No Farther Than “Hank-Sugarfoot- Garland”. My Friend Always.

  • Kelly Brooks spoke:
    9th/09/2010 to 12:14 pm

    Just watched the movie. Thought it was a good movie and heartbreaking. I find the commments on this page uncalled for. I don’t know of any kid who wants a parent to be portrayed in a bad light, but to assume that the kids acually know all of the true accounts is a MASSIVE assumption.

    As far as the comments on Billy Bird. “Bill Holley” stated that Billy was sober the last 20 years of his life. WELL….it didn’t show him during the last 20 years of his life. And in the last scene, it shows Bird looking Sober and clean on the stage of the opry.

    If Bird, or Hank or anyone else was portrayed “poorly” it doesn’t change their contribution to music. Have you seen the other biographies of famous singer/musicians? None of them were very good people, at certain times of their life. But that doesn’t mean they were bad people forever. And it doesn’t change their musical legacy.

    Hollywood is seldom factual, but neither is family. Jeffrey Dahmer’s mom said he was a good boy and all the accusations against him were false. I’m not comparing the 2, but I am comparing the rational of those people who are too closely involved.

    I”m sorry if some people feeling were hurt from this movie, but it’s a good movie, with a great soundtrack and actors. Someone needs to be glad that people are learning who Hank Garland is. He was only the greatest guitar player ever.

  • Mandy spoke:
    30th/10/2010 to 10:14 pm

    I just find it sad that Hank’s 2 daughter’s and all the talk of others gettting ripped off. His daughter’s did as they did not receive one wordly possesion of thir father…not a guitar ..nothing! Just an aching heart ..

  • Igeary Pearcy spoke:
    11th/12/2010 to 4:18 pm

    I totaly agree, He was the world’ best straight pick artist. Just try to play some of his licks. I’ve been trying for years and Hank just gets more complicated , his styl e so complex and was such a smooth player. I do not believe he was at all the bad person displayed in the movie. one time i was in Nashville at a music store. A guy played a nice little riff, before hanging a guitar on the wall. I said , how about playing me a tune. He said, aw, man, I don’t feel like it. I thought I’ll get you to play. I played about a half verse of hank’s autumn leaves on a round neck dobro. He said hey, man, come with me. you can play my ByrdLand guitar which i was really chomping at the bits to do so. He later said no body in Nashville could carry hank’s guitar case. that was about 40 years ago. Far as I’m concerned, no body has from that day to now and in future will not be able to carry his guitar case. I’ve been telling people how great he was for many years. Like Elvis, there will never be another. I had a friend in nashville who was in many phases of the Nashville sound. He said Hank would show you any lick he played and how to do it if you asked him to. That shows me what kind of guy he was. What a guy!

  • Judi spoke:
    23rd/04/2012 to 11:33 am

    I just watched the movie. Of course the music is wonderful, how could it not be? And the film itself is dark, dark, dark. Not only dark, but full of intentional lies. Whatever sells, right? It did bring me to look for some truth on the internet, and so I was able to read what his daughters and others wrote. Yes, his story is like many who seek fame and fortune….fraught with addiction and violence. And surely the music industry was and is one of deceit.

    Only by becoming awake, alert, and aware in our own life can we hope to move beyond the cruelty of unconscious ignorance. Being a genius musician or a genius anything does not necessarily make one a genius at living. Simple human kindness and decency belong to another category of genius, one most of us do not possess.

    I can’t know anything about anyone’s actual life by watching this movie. But I can know a lot about the ignorance and greed of those who made this film. And to know that Hank Garland’s music is great, I do not need a dark and dismal depressing movie.

    To his daughters I would say — do not let yourselves be victims of this film. Who cares what ignorant people say or think? Anyone who thinks for themselves will know the film is full of holes and can find out more on their own, if they wish. If anyone benefits from the profits of this or any film about your father, it should be you.

  • Richard spoke:
    17th/05/2012 to 9:55 am

    I saw the movie several times trying to find out what the truth was in it and what was embellished. It is sad when the greatest guitar player on earth is portrayed in such a way that only benefits the producers of the movie. I am glad they did the bio-pic, but I wish it was done a little more tastefully. I love the works of Hank Garland, and appreciate the fact that the family continues to shine the light on his legacy. He is someone I could have met in all my years being in Nashville but never knew much about him until after he had passed. His children and wife are his legacy too. I doubt we will ever see another guitar player that could come close to the player that Hank Garland was.

  • Debra Garland spoke:
    29th/09/2012 to 6:43 am

    To Kelly Brooks: To make an assumption, as you did, is unfortunate since you have no idea of our family situation. As a point of fact, my older Sister, Cheryl, knew more about the facts of what went on during our childhood since she was our Mother’s confidant. We were there and we knew what went on. As for there being a betrayal by our Mother that is just BS. She loved my Dad very much even though he was a difficult man to love. It was just the times and the business he was in. His first love WAS his music. We knew that, and we also knew he loved us as much as he could. My Dad was a wonderful Dad who was also a wonderful musician. He also was very much into electronics.
    My Mother, Sister, & I took care of Dad after his accident. He was never abandoned. He went to live with his Parents because he could not be left alone and with my Mother having to find work and my Sister & I going to school, that was the only option to keep him safe. His Parents spent their lives taking care of him. I don’t think that was in the movie either. Shortly after he moved to SC my Mother was killed in an auto accident.

    Cheryl, my older Sister & Hank’s oldest Daughter passed away on May 10, 2012 in McHenry, IL from a stroke at the age of 61. She tried so often to get the truth out about OUR lives. It became a fight at times. Now, maybe she can finally rest in peace.

  • Andy spoke:
    25th/10/2012 to 3:44 pm

    Hank was amazing ..I wouldn’t have known so much about him if it wasn’t for the movie..be I do understand how it could have hurt,the untruths and such..I’m in NYC right now andi was just talking about hanks playing and how amazing it is, turned on a few folks who hadn’t known him..was taking about the movie telling them about it and how some is Hollywood made up.i do feel bad for because of such ,take care

  • Gary Holcomb spoke:
    29th/11/2012 to 6:40 pm

    Debra I was sorry to find out that Cheryl had passed away , it had to be a tremendous loss for you . My dad was the neighbor that taught Hank his first chords and runs , and my family cared very much about Hank , Evelyn , Cheryl , and of course you . Hank never forgot us and when his parents were still here , he would visit often . Rest assured that you are still thought about and loved by me , and my family . As for the movie , I saw it but I didn’t care very much for the content , it was too unreal .

  • Debra Garland spoke:
    30th/11/2012 to 4:34 pm

    Gary Holcomb: Thank you, losing my Sister is still hard for me. I’m very glad to meet the Son of the man who was the inspiration to my Dad.
    Yea, so much good died after my Dad’s parents passed away. They were such good people and took such care of Dad. That was never mentioned in that stupid ‘fictional’ movie either! It’s not mentioned in any of the stories written either, and I think it’s down right disrespectful, but I loved them and will always be grateful to them for what they did for Dad when my Sister and I were not in a position to do. They showed what real love is.
    As you probably read, I’m not a fan of the movie either. Actually I’ve not seen it. My Son has but at the time advised me it probably wasn’t a good thing for me to watch. I know how it all upset my Sister as well as you have read as well, I’m sure.
    So whatever they want they can have. They can’t take the love that existed between Mom, Dad, Cheryl & me and they can’t take the memories that we have, or rather that I have (now).
    Thank you again…

  • Gary Holcomb spoke:
    28th/12/2012 to 5:54 pm

    Debra , my Mother is going to really be thrilled to hear from you , and I can’t wait to tell her . She is 95 now and in a nursing home , but she still does pretty well for her age . She would always ask how you and Cheryl were when Mr Garland would bring your Dad for a visit . It had to be very hard for your family after your Dad had the wreck , and if that movie wanted to show how things really were , it would have taken more time on what you , Cheryl , and your Mom went thru . Sometimes truth doesn’t matter , and it appears to be the case here . I really was glad to hear from you , and look forward to again . I almost forgot , how many children do you have ?

  • Debi Garland spoke:
    29th/12/2012 to 9:27 am

    Gary Holcomb: thank you for being one that understands. Like Cheryl told me, long ago, the people that were there know what the truth is. I miss her.
    I actually have 2 Sons. My oldest Son, Mark, was adopted by Dad’s brother, my Uncle Midge & Aunt Carolyn. I was young and single and they couldn’t have any more children. My cousin Scerita told me she remembered the day I handed her baby brother to her. She had prayed for a sibling. It was difficult for me but I grew to feel that I gave birth to him just for them. They gave him such a good life filled with so much love. Mark has never forgave me for what I did. He never understood why I had another Son, who I kept. They are 4 years apart in age.
    My younger Son, Jason, is now married and lives a block away. Since I’ve never been married, it was heartwarming when he fell in love and married a single Mom with a Son. They’ve been married over 10 yrs now and live only a block away.
    It’s difficult to explain how much of a loss it was for me to give Mark to Midge & Carolyn. I planned Jason and wanted to have another Son. He had a much more difficult life than Mark, but he’s grown to be an amazing man. I couldn’t be more proud. There are a couple of pics of Jason & my Dad on my Face book page in my pictures. Jason was relentless in 2004 that he was taking me to see my Dad that summer. As it turns out it would be the last time I would see him alive.

  • Gary Holcomb spoke:
    7th/01/2013 to 5:36 pm

    Debi , I am glad to know that you got a chance to see your Dad before he passed away . Sadly , I didn’t get to see him again for a number of years , but I can tell you that even with his accident he was still one of the best players anywhere . Before they all moved to Florida I went to see him and Mr Garland showed me his book of studio recordings that your Dad played in . Patsy Cline , Hank Williams , Elvis ,, on and on because he simply was the best . Debi , time has a way of changing peoples hearts and it will for Mark . Midge & Carolyn were very good people , but I know that had to be hard for you , but you also went thru quite a few trumatic situations yourself over the years .I am glad Jason lives close by so you are not alone . It took a lot of courage to make it after your Mom passed away , I know it was hard , but you made it , and for that I am glad .

  • Leetta spoke:
    12th/01/2013 to 3:45 am

    I just saw the movie on TV. If it does anything, it renews an interest in Hank Garland. I had never heard of him and had no idea of what I had missed. His guitar plays is….there’s no words to explain how wonderful he was. I also went to YouTube and listened to his music on that site. I am so glad I found this site and was able to read Debra’s posts here. No family is perfect, but , Debra, you were blessed to have had a father with such a wonderful talent. I was sorry to hear about your sister passing away last year. I was so interested in the movie that I Googled it and all the information was shone there. Your grandparents certainly were wonderful people to take care of your Dad the way they did. Blessings always.

  • Randall Wiggins spoke:
    9th/04/2013 to 11:57 pm

    Am a relative of Hanks and just saying I hate all this is going on.

  • Kittra spoke:
    22nd/06/2013 to 4:34 pm

    I knew Hank. My husband, Bob Moore, roomed with Hank at Ma Upchurch’s when he was 16 years old. They were friends from beginning to end. Hank and his family lived a block away from Bob and his family in Madison. He saw it all happen. The day of Hank’s wreck, Bob was in the studio. Hank stopped by the house and left his gun with Bob’s then wife, Betty. Hank was afraid he might be forced to defend himself and he didn’t want to shoot anyone. He tore up the highway hoping to catch up with Evelyn.
    Bill Holley is correct. Billy Byrd was a very sweet man and unfairly portrayed in the movie.
    Look at how they portrayed Vivian Liberto, Johnny Cash’s first wife in the Johnny Cash/June Carter movie. Outrageous and unnecessarily cruel. Once you surrender artistic control over the movie rights, the producers do whatever they want to do.

  • Debi Garland spoke:
    22nd/06/2013 to 5:07 pm

    I know the story…I was there INSIDE the house…

  • sbloch spoke:
    30th/06/2013 to 10:09 pm

    I just saw the movie Crazy. I did not know who Hank was before the movie. I lkve to watch movies of real people. I did like the movie but only because it gave me and idea of who Hank was. I wanted to know more so i Googled HankGarland. I am glad i came a cross this post. The move as i understand now is not the greatest depiition but it gives the basics. It is sad what happened in the movie but the saddest thing is just the facts of a wonderful man not being able to continue to see his children ( i understand why) and also the passing of your mom so young.

  • sbloch spoke:
    30th/06/2013 to 10:12 pm

    Debi, i sure wish that there could be a redo on the movie and that all the truth comes out. I mean for goodness they did not even depict you in the movie. They should of had that correct at least. Thanks for shareing all you have on this page.

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