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BOUND FOR GLORY (1976) * ½

Long before David Carradine sexed himself to death, he starred as folk singer Woody Guthrie in this boring as fuck biopic from director Hal Ashby.  Woody is this sign painter who leaves his wife (Melinda Dillon) and kids behind so he can lead the glamorous life of a hobo.  After riding the rails for awhile, he joins up with these disgruntled fruit pickers in California and starts writing songs about how picking fruit sucks.  It’s about this time when Woody gets a gig singing on the radio and eventually, he’s given his own show.  The only catch is that he isn’t allowed to sing any tunes about disgruntled fruit pickers.  This doesn’t sit too well with Woody and he decides to sing nothing but disgruntled fruit picker songs.  They fire him and finally Guthrie picks up and moves to New York so the movie can mercifully end.

 

I can see why Hal Ashby would want to direct Bound for Glory because just about all of his films are about oddballs who rebel against the status quo.  (Harold and Maude, The Last Detail, Coming Home, etc.)  It’s just a shame he couldn’t make a better movie out of the material.  Not only does the story move about as slow as a snail moonwalking on molasses, but it runs on way too long (almost two and a half hours) for it’s own good.

 

As a critic, it’s my job to give suggestions on how to make a film better.  If I could offer a bit of constructive criticism to Ashby, I’d start with his handling of Carradine.  Hal, nobody in his right mind would hire Carradine for his singing abilities.  After all, this is Caine from Kung Fu we’re talking about here.  Actually, this flick is structured a lot like an episode of Kung Fu with Carradine wandering around from place to place.  If Ashby had Carradine beating the bejabbers out of the people he met instead of singing about unionizing fruit pickers to them; we may have had a classic here.

Comments

( 1 comment — Comment )
(Anonymous)
Apr. 10th, 2012 01:31 am (UTC)
Singing Ability
Woody Guthrie was not a good singer either--it's his songwriting ability that made him who he was.
( 1 comment — Comment )

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