Released Jul 30, 2021
Without Getting Killed or Caught
NR 1h 35m
Directed by: Tamara Saviano, Paul Whitfield
Starring: Sissy Spacek, Steve Earle, Guy Clark, Townes van Zandt
This 90-minute documentary follows Guy Clark, Susanna Clark, and Townes Van Zandt as they rise from obscurity to reverence: Guy, the Pancho to Van Zandt's Lefty, struggling to establish himself as the Dylan Thomas of American music, while Susanna pens hit songs and paints album covers for top artists, and Townes spirals in self-destruction after writing some of Americana music's most enduring and influential ballads. Based on the diaries of Susanna Clark and Saviano's 2016 book Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark, the film tells the saga from Susanna's point of view, with Academy Award-winner Sissy Spacek voicing Susanna's narration. Saviano, a longtime figure on the Americana scene as journalist, publicist, artist manager, and Grammy-winning producer, had the complete cooperation of Clark, who sat for interviews on and off camera. Without Getting Killed or Caught (the title comes from Clark's song, "L.A. Freeway") also offers poignant reflections from Clark's closest friends and musical allies, most prominently Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Vince Gill, Verlon Thompson, and Terry and Jo Harvey Allen, as well as record executive Barry Poss. The film, partially funded by a Kickstarter campaign, makes good use of Clark's songs, family photographs and archives, vintage film footage, and radio talk shows on which Clark appeared solo and in tandem with Van Zandt. The real emotional zing, however, comes from Susanna's pained remembrances, culled from her private journals and secret audio diaries, as well as taped conversations that Susanna made of the trio and of the "salon" that regularly gathered around them--all serving as witnesses to this seemingly fated intersection of love, art, and tragedy.