Hal Ashby's film of Woody Guthrie's autobiography, BOUND FOR GLORY, recounts the protest singer's life starting when he's a young man with a wife and two children, trying to find work as a sign painter in the Dust Bowl-ravaged Texas of the 1930s. He leaves his wife, Mary (Melinda Dillon), with her family and, like thousands of others, rides the rails to California. Along the way he sees the brutal treatment of men by the railroad's hired thugs before being thrown into a hard life in the migrant workers camps of the San Fernando Valley. He begins to write songs about everything he's seen and joins Ozark Bule on the radio, not just singing about union organizing, but actually going to meetings and brawling with union-busting goons. When the radio station management, as a result of pressure from its advertisers, tells Woody--who's now attracting a following with his protest songs and ballads about the lives of oppressed people--that he can't do those songs, he gives up the radio program and decides to ride the rails to New York to seek a larger audience for his music. David Carradine, as Guthrie, does his own singing, giving an intimacy to the songs that might have been lost by dubbing. The award-winning cinematography by Haskell Wexler captures both the bleakness of the Great Depression and the beautiful grandeur of America, exactly what Guthrie expressed in his songs.
Academy Awards Best Cinematography 1976 Haskell Wexler Cinematographer/Director/Producer/Screenwriter
Academy Awards Best Original Song Score and Adaptation 1976 Leonard Rosenman Film composer