Kathy Cash says her father's movie bio Walk the Line unfair to her late mother

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated November 11, 2005 08:30 AM

Clearly, The Sound of Music it’s not. But the new Johnny Cash movie bio Walk the Line, opening Nov. 18 and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the man in black and Reese Witherspoon as wife June Carter Cash, has been getting great advance reviews – just not from one of Cash’s kids.

Kathy Cash, one of the musician’s five children, was so upset about the screen depiction of her mother – Vivian Liberto Distin, Johnny’s first wife – that she walked out of a private family screening not once but five times, reports the Associated Press.

“My mom was basically a nonentity in the entire film except for the mad little psycho who hated his career. That’s not true. She loved his career and was proud of him until he started taking drugs and stopped coming home,” Kathy Cash said.

Vivian Liberto Distin – played in the movie by Ginnifer Goodwin – died earlier this year as a result of complications from lung cancer. Her marriage to Cash last 13 years and produced four children, and he pledged to remain faithful to her in one of his signature songs, “I Walk the Line.”

Kathy Cash – though having praise for the performances of Phoenix and Witherspoon – also said the movie fails to include any meaningful scenes with the children or show the pain she and her three sisters endured during their father’s struggle with drugs and their parents’ divorce. She says it portrays her paternal grandfather (Johnny’s father) too negatively.

“Anyone who wants a good sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll movie is gonna love it,” she said. “I’m anticipating dyed-in-the-wool fans objecting to a lot of stuff.”

Defending the film, yet “compassionately understanding” of his half-sister’s carping, John Carter Cash – Johnny and June’s only child together and an executive producer for Walk the Line – says it’s reasonable to take some license and that, in the bigger picture, the movie succeeds in telling his parents’ love story.