The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack (2000)

Genres - Culture & Society, Music  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Interpersonal Relationships  |   Release Date - Aug 18, 2000 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 112 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG13
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An overdue look at an important figure on the folk music scene, The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack also contains a personal dimension. Aiyanna Elliott, Jack's daughter by his fourth wife, Martha, is as determined to track down her father for a reunion that just happens to include a camera and microphone as he is to avoid dredging up past wrongs. Ramblin' Jack Elliott is described by everyone, from exasperated club and personal managers to his forgiving ex-wives to his fellow musicians, as a cheerfully irresponsible man. Aiyanna plays a phone message from him that acknowledges missing her birthday by almost a week, claiming he hadn't been able to get to a phone. You can laugh, since Jack isn't your father; Aiyanna's reaction is an exasperated grimace she wears for most of the film. Aiyanna has done a prodigious job of research, gathering up evocative photographs, clips from TV and movie appearances, and every surviving key figure in Jack's life but one. She admits, in an interview that sometimes runs with TV broadcasts of the film, that she tried to contact Bob Dylan, who generously included Jack in his Rolling Thunder Revue shows of the mid-'70s. Dylan had rebuffed overtures from Elliott, so it's not surprising that Dylan wouldn't appear to acknowledge his debt to one of his mentors. But the film, a valentine to a less than devoted father, does fine without him.