The father in question is Saul Holiff, Johnny Cash’s manager during his ’60s commercial heyday, and the man who introduced the country star to his bride-to-be June Carter. Holiff committed suicide in 2005, leaving no note for his estranged son. But when his mother handed over the keys to Saul’s storage locker, budding filmmaker Jonathan Holiff decided to do a little digging, leading to this intriguing but indulgent documentary.
The highlights are the little historical nuggets Holiff Jr digs up along his journey: that before he got his break in music, Saul sold square hamburgers because ‘you get four extra bites’; that Cash was the first man ever to be charged with starting a forest fire; that in the early ’70s the singer went to Israel to make a musical docudrama about the life of Christ. But following an irksome opening in which Holiff restages his father’s suicide, the film overdoes it with the awkward, unconvincing re-enactments, many starring the director himself. The result will amuse hardcore Cash fans, but few others.