A moving, brilliantly photographed picture that portrays the legendary eccentric folksinger Woody Guthrie in a trip across Depression-era America. Carradine is memorable as the penniless Okie who rides a train to California but is stopped at the border because the state is having
difficulty providing for those that have arrived already. Carradine sneaks across the border and meets Quaid, and the two team up to look for work. Cox is an Ozark folk singer who periodically visits the labor camps to lighten the load of these poor men's lives. At one of the meetings, Carradine
joins in the singing and Cox is so impressed that he gets him a job on the radio. Success is almost immediate, but Guthrie's social conscience compels him to use the radio as a political organ for recounting the travails of the farm workers he knows so intimately. He is told to cut out the
politicking or leave. He chooses to be fired. Later he gets offered a chance to play the big time at Hollywood's Coconut Grove provided that he'll commercialize his work. No surprises here. He hits the road, hoping to bring the message of his music to people he meets along the way.
This is a superior biopic. Viewers get to see Guthrie warts and all. That easily half the audience is too young to know who he was should not matter. This is the story of an artist with deeply held political principles, a remarkable quality in any age. At 147 minutes, this film could lose a
quarter of an hour or more with no loss to the drama.
Haskell Wexler proves again that he is a master of evocative cinematography as he uses the camera to its best advantage in every frame of this Hal Ashby directed film. Robert Getchell adapted Guthrie's autobiography for the screenplay but Ashby and his editor made extensive contributions. leave a comment