Bound for Glory (1976)

“His life has touched all of our lives. This is his story.” A visual masterpiece from director Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude) and cinematographer Haskell Wexler (who won an Oscar for his efforts), Bound for Glory was based on folk legend Woody Guthrie’s 1943 autobiography of the same name. David “Kung Fu” Carradine turns in an inspired performance as the wandering troubadour escaping the Dust Bowl to search for work during the Great Depression. We follow along as Guthrie rides the rails, gets his ass kicked a couple of times, heads West toward California, embarks on the early stages of his singer-songwriter career and becomes a true populist voice for the disenfranchised. In fact, many scenes are reminiscent of the classic 1940 film The Grapes of Wrath, which featured Carradine’s father, John, as “Jim Casy.” Although Bound for Glory may be too slow-going for some restless viewers, the film boasts great music, as well as outstanding visuals and acting. The excellent supporting cast includes Ronny Cox, Melinda Dillon, Randy Quaid and Gail Strickland. Actors reportedly considered for the role of Guthrie at one time or another include Bob Dylan, Tim Buckley (who tragically died of a drug overdose shortly before production), James Taylor, Glen Campbell, Johnny Cash, Art Garfunkel, Kris Kristofferson, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, Robert De Niro and even Guthrie’s son, Arlo. Bound for Glory was nominated for a “Best Picture” Oscar but lost out to Rocky. The Steadicam camera stabilizer was used for the first time by its inventor Garrett Brown during the filming of Bound for Glory.

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