Bound for Glory (1976)

PG | 147 mins | Biography | 5 December 1976

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HISTORY

The film opens with the following quote: “‘Don’t let nothing get you plumb down....’ Woody Guthrie.” An introductory title card gives the film’s place and time as “Pampa, Texas, July, 1936.” An epilogue states: “Woody continued to travel the roads of America, and of the world, visiting the cities, the factories, the farms, giving his music to everyone he met. He was hospitalized in 1954, a victim of Huntington’s Disease, a genetic order. Woody died on October third, 1967.” Another quote follows the epilogue: “‘Gamblin’ is my nature, Ramblin’ is my game, Deal me out your hardest card, I’ll win this goddam [sic] game.”—Woody Guthrie.”
       A note in the end credits offers: “Our thanks to the Woody Guthrie family for their cooperation,” and also gives the following location information: “Filmed in and around Stockton and Bakersfield, California, with the cooperation of the local officials, townspeople and United States Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield District Office.”
       Another end-credit note offers: “Our thanks to the following artists for permitting us to include their recorded performances in our film: Odetta, The Weavers (courtesy Vanguard Recording Society), Will Geer, Country Joe McDonald (courtesy Vanguard Recording Society), Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins.”
       The last name of character actor Robert Sorrells is misspelled as “Sorrels” when it first appears in the end credits, but is properly spelled in the ending crawl.
       Actress Melinda Dillon, who portrays “Mary Guthrie,” the wife of “Woody Guthrie,” also portrays Woody’s radio singing partner, “Memphis Sue,” often in adjacent scenes.
       During end credits, a recording of the real Woody Guthrie is edited into a medley of other artists, according to the 6 Dec 1976 NYT.
       Harold Hecht Productions ... More Less

The film opens with the following quote: “‘Don’t let nothing get you plumb down....’ Woody Guthrie.” An introductory title card gives the film’s place and time as “Pampa, Texas, July, 1936.” An epilogue states: “Woody continued to travel the roads of America, and of the world, visiting the cities, the factories, the farms, giving his music to everyone he met. He was hospitalized in 1954, a victim of Huntington’s Disease, a genetic order. Woody died on October third, 1967.” Another quote follows the epilogue: “‘Gamblin’ is my nature, Ramblin’ is my game, Deal me out your hardest card, I’ll win this goddam [sic] game.”—Woody Guthrie.”
       A note in the end credits offers: “Our thanks to the Woody Guthrie family for their cooperation,” and also gives the following location information: “Filmed in and around Stockton and Bakersfield, California, with the cooperation of the local officials, townspeople and United States Bureau of Land Management, Bakersfield District Office.”
       Another end-credit note offers: “Our thanks to the following artists for permitting us to include their recorded performances in our film: Odetta, The Weavers (courtesy Vanguard Recording Society), Will Geer, Country Joe McDonald (courtesy Vanguard Recording Society), Arlo Guthrie, Judy Collins.”
       The last name of character actor Robert Sorrells is misspelled as “Sorrels” when it first appears in the end credits, but is properly spelled in the ending crawl.
       Actress Melinda Dillon, who portrays “Mary Guthrie,” the wife of “Woody Guthrie,” also portrays Woody’s radio singing partner, “Memphis Sue,” often in adjacent scenes.
       During end credits, a recording of the real Woody Guthrie is edited into a medley of other artists, according to the 6 Dec 1976 NYT.
       Harold Hecht Productions was preparing to make Bound for Glory for United Artists Corp. several years earlier, according to the 27 Feb 1968 and 22 Apr 1968 editions of Var. Playwright Oliver Hailey was contracted to write the screenplay, and Harold Leventhal, Woody Guthrie’s manager, was set to co-produce with Hecht. Eventually, Leventhal produced the film with Robert F. Blumofe, and Robert Getchell wrote the screenplay. David Carradine told the 1 Nov 1976 Box that he read the 1968 version and “wanted the role very badly, but the script didn’t work out.” Blumofe told the 9 May 1975 HR that he was considering several artists, including actor-singers Art Garfunkel and Kris Kristofferson, for the role of Woody Guthrie. Leventhal later told the 13 Oct 1975 Village Voice that Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Robert De Niro, and folksinger Bob Dylan were also considered. Dylan turned down the role, Leventhal said, but wanted to direct. David Carradine was originally rejected because, at six feet, he was too tall to play the diminutive Guthrie, and Leventhal wanted a short actor to accentuate Guthrie as a symbol of “the little man.”
       According to the 19 Aug 1975 HR, principal photography for Bound For Glory began that day in Stockton, CA. The shooting schedule called for six weeks in the Stockton area, then three weeks in Bakersfield, CA, and finally five weeks in Los Angeles, CA. Filming was set to end 4 Jan 1976, a month over schedule, the 31 Dec 1975 Var reported. Production designer Michael Haller told the 8 Mar 1977 LAHExam that he first scouted locations in TX, OK, AZ, and NM, but could not find the dustbowl-like terrain he was looking for, because the land had changed since the Depression. He settled on the Northern CA, Sacramento River town of Isleton to stand in for Pampa, TX; farm fields outside Walnut Grove, CA, where some of the migrant worker scenes were shot with over 100 background actors; and areas around Bakersfield. A house in the East Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights was used for the Guthries’ Los Angeles home, and the Coconut Grove in the Ambassador Hotel was used for the scene in which Guthrie turns down his chance at being a coast-to-coast CBS radio star. The most difficult location shots, both Haller and director Hal Ashby agreed, involved filming 1930s trains, which required permits, clearances, and time limits in order to use modern commercial railroad tracks. Producer Blumofe told the 21 May 1976 issue of Women’s Wear Daily that while shooting in the Mexican-American barrio of Boyle Heights, Carradine walked off the set to join a passing protest march of United Farm Workers, leaving a full crew with nothing to do for more than an hour. Carradine claimed, “It’s what Woody would have done.”
       When Ashby edited the film from 147 minutes to 135 minutes by removing or shortening four scenes, United Artists executives requested that he restore the footage, which included part of the opening gas station sequence, and the entire scenes in which Guthrie saves a woman dying of thirst, talks to migrant worker “Luther Johnson” in a radio station, and finds his wife has abandoned their Los Angeles home.
       Budget reports varied, but the 14 Jan 1977 DV estimated that the film cost close to $10 million.
       The 1 Nov 1976 Box noted that Bound for Glory was set to open in New York City on 5 Dec 1976 and in Los Angeles, CA, three days later. The film opened 17 Feb 1977 at 107 theaters in Guthrie’s home state of OK as part of a governor-proclaimed “Woody Guthrie Week.” David Carradine, Harold Leventhal, and Guthrie’s widow, Marjorie Guthrie, attended a “premiere” at the Southpark Theatre in Oklahoma City.
       Bound For Glory was nominated for four Academy Awards in the following categories: Costume Design, Film Editing, Writing (Screenplay--based on material from another medium), and Best Picture. It received two Academy Awards for Cinematography and Music (Original Song Score and Its Adaptation or Adaptation Score).
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Nov 1976.
---
Cue
11 Dec 1976.
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Daily Variety
21 Apr 1975.
---
Daily Variety
18 Sep 1975.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1975.
---
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1976
pp. 1, 3.
Daily Variety
14 Jan 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Aug 1975.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1976
p. 8.
LAHExam
8 Mar 1977
Section B, pp. 5-6.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jul 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Oct 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
5 Dec 1976
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
24 Mar 1977
Section IV, p. 5.
New York Times
6 Dec 1976
p. 47.
Variety
27 Feb 1968.
---
Variety
22 Apr 1968.
---
Variety
31 Dec 1975.
---
Variety
27 Oct 1976
p. 26.
Variety
23 Feb 1977.
---
Village Voice
13 Oct 1975
Back page, p. 132.
Women's Wear Daily
21 May 1976
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
co-starring:
Couple in trailer automobile
Couple in trailer automobile
Railroad harness guards
Conducting Cocoanut Grove auditions
Hobos (on train)
Conducting Cocoanut Grove auditions
Water-swallowing scene
Guthrie Children:
Water-swallowing scene
Men in gas station
Woody's California-bound neighbors:
Hobos (on train)
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PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Gaffer
Cam tech
Unit still photog
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Best boy
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Const co-ord
Const foreman
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward dept head
Women's ward
Cost supv
MUSIC
Mus adpt and cond
Mus ed
Mus ed
Mus co-ord
SOUND
Prod mixer
Sd consultant
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Re-rec at
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec eff
Title des
Main and end credits
MAKEUP
Hair stylist
Makeup man
Makeup man
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Loc mgr
Transportation co-ord
Transportation capt
Extra casting
Scr supv
Prod secy
Research
Prod auditor
Asst auditor
Unit pub
Loc caterer
Prod services by
Loc mgr
Projectionist
Asst auditor
UA representative
Prod's secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Unit pub
Project pub officer
Wrangler
First aid man
Prod services
STAND INS
Stunt co-ord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Bound for Glory by Woody Guthrie (New York, 1943).
AUTHOR
SONGS
Songs: "Curly Headed Baby," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc. "So Long" (It's Been Good To Know Yuh)," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Jesus Christ," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Taking It Easy," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
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SONGS
Songs: "Curly Headed Baby," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc. "So Long" (It's Been Good To Know Yuh)," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Jesus Christ," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Taking It Easy," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Talking Dust Bowl Blues," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"I Ain't Got No Home," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Hard Travelin,'" written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Lonesome Valley," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Union Maid," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Howdido," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Do Re Mi," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Deportee (Plane Wreck At Los Gatos)," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"This Land Is Your Land," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Pastures of Plenty," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Better World," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Gypsy Davy," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Tom Joad," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"Blowin' Down The Dusty Old Road," written by Woody Guthrie, published by TRO/The Richmond Organization with Hollis Music, Inc., Ludlow Music, Inc., and Folkways Music Publishers, Inc.
"This Train Is Bound For Glory" published by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. "Oklahoma Hills," (co-written with Jack Guthrie), published by Michael H. Goldsen, Inc.
"The Sinking Of The Reuben James," published by MCA Music and Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc.
"Roll On, Columbia," words by Woody Guthrie, music based on "Goodnight Irene" by Huddie Ledbetter and John Lomax, published by TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. By others (with permission of copyright owners): "California Water Tastes Like Cherry Wine," adaptation by Guthrie Thomas, published by Unart Music Corporation
"Hobo's Lullaby," words and music be Goebel Reeves, published by Fall River Music, Inc.
"Woody And Memphis Sue," words by Robert Getchell, music by Guthrie Thomas, published by Unart Music Corporation
"I'm In The Mood For Love," words by Dorothy Fields, music by Jimmy McHugh, published by Robbins Music Corporation. Traditional folk songs (public domain): "900 Miles"
"Boil Them Cabbage Down"
"Columbus Stockade"
"Pie In The Sky"
"Ole Joe Clark"
"Wreck Of The Old Ninety-Seven"
"Comin' Round The Mountain"
"Down In The Valley."
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DETAILS
Release Date:
5 December 1976
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 5 December 1976
Los Angeles opening: 9 December 1976
Production Date:
19 August 1975--4 January 1976 in California
Copyright Claimant:
United Artists Corp.
Copyright Date:
16 November 1976
Copyright Number:
LP47757
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision
Duration(in mins):
147
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Pampas, Texas, in July 1936, Woody Guthrie sits at a gas station, playing guitar as other men talk about leaving town for California or the Texas Gulf Coast. When a customer named Collister offers $1 to anyone who can tell him something “worth listenin’ to,” Woody wins the dollar by figuring out Collister’s worries about the future. Later, as Woody paints a store sign, his wife, Mary, encourages him to keep painting because it is his only skill that makes money, but he annoys her by putting down his brushes and picking up his guitar. Two ladies take Woody to a despondent woman who refuses to drink, and he uses psychology to get her to swallow a glass of water. At the dinner table, Mary complains that Woody should look for work, so he walks around town, offering to paint signs. When a store owner hires him to paint a white-on-black sign, Woody paints it white-on-red instead, so the owner refuses to pay him. At a bar, Woody sings a song for a young woman named Sue Ann, then goes home with her. Later, as Woody sits on his porch, Heavy Chandler, recently released from the state hospital, stops to talk to him about being crazy and having pictures in his head. Woody gives him paint brushes and paint and tells him to put his thoughts on paper. As Woody plays fiddle with a local band at a square dance, children rush in to warn about a dust storm. Huge clouds of dust roll in, blinding and choking everyone, forcing them into their houses. Lying in bed with Mary, Woody hints that it is time for him to ... +


In Pampas, Texas, in July 1936, Woody Guthrie sits at a gas station, playing guitar as other men talk about leaving town for California or the Texas Gulf Coast. When a customer named Collister offers $1 to anyone who can tell him something “worth listenin’ to,” Woody wins the dollar by figuring out Collister’s worries about the future. Later, as Woody paints a store sign, his wife, Mary, encourages him to keep painting because it is his only skill that makes money, but he annoys her by putting down his brushes and picking up his guitar. Two ladies take Woody to a despondent woman who refuses to drink, and he uses psychology to get her to swallow a glass of water. At the dinner table, Mary complains that Woody should look for work, so he walks around town, offering to paint signs. When a store owner hires him to paint a white-on-black sign, Woody paints it white-on-red instead, so the owner refuses to pay him. At a bar, Woody sings a song for a young woman named Sue Ann, then goes home with her. Later, as Woody sits on his porch, Heavy Chandler, recently released from the state hospital, stops to talk to him about being crazy and having pictures in his head. Woody gives him paint brushes and paint and tells him to put his thoughts on paper. As Woody plays fiddle with a local band at a square dance, children rush in to warn about a dust storm. Huge clouds of dust roll in, blinding and choking everyone, forcing them into their houses. Lying in bed with Mary, Woody hints that it is time for him to go elsewhere for work. Later, Woody leaves a note for Mary, puts on his coat and hat, and hails a ride with a passing truck driver. After hitchhiking for several days, he climbs aboard a train with a couple of African American hobos, including Slim Snedeger, but when a brawl breaks out inside their crowded boxcar, Woody and Slim jump off and grab onto a ladder leading to the top of another freight car. Later, the train stops for a group of railroad men hired to round up vagrants, force those with money to pay for a passenger train, and send the rest walking. Slim has money for the train, but Woody is broke, so they agree halfheartedly to meet someday in California. Woody hitches a ride with a middle-class couple, but insults them and they stop to let him out. At a bar, he gets a free meal by playing the piano and singing his songs, then spends the night with a waitress. Heading west, he gets a steady ride with a family in a truck packed with furniture, but police stop them, along with dozens of other destitute people, at the California border. The police require that families have $50 before they are allowed to proceed, so Woody leaves the caravan and walks to a nearby camp, where a hobo shares his blanket. Later, Woody hops a train with another hobo, but a train guard shoots the man off the top of a boxcar and Woody hides between two cars until the train reaches the outskirts of Los Angeles. There, he works for his dinner at a chili café, and meets Luther and Liz Johnson, a young migrant couple with children, looking for work picking fruit. They drive from camp to camp, but find the camps have more workers than they need, and the few jobs open pay only four cents a bushel. Woody goes to town and stops at a soup kitchen, offering to paint a sign in exchange for soup. The server, Pauline, says they only have “free” soup, but she would accept a painted sign as a favor. The next day, a fruit company hires only a few extra day workers, leaving hundreds of people without work. Luther tells Woody all the camps are the same, so there is no sense leaving. Woody returns to the soup kitchen, paints a professional sign, and asks Pauline for dinner at her place, but she refuses. Back at the camp, a popular union organizer and radio entertainer, Ozark Bule, drives in with his guitar, stands on his car, and sings union songs. As night falls, Ozark’s impromptu show turns into a hoedown, as Woody and other musicians join in, singing folk songs. Company “goons” break up the hoedown and start a brawl, Woody jumps into Ozark's car and escapes with him. Ozark takes Woody to the radio station where he works and introduces him to the owner, Mr. Locke. Locke hires Woody at $20 a week to play on Ozark’s Thursday program, and Woody becomes popular by singing personal songs that relate to Depression woes. He drives to the fields with Ozark to preach about the union, but company thugs chase them off. The two also sing at union halls, where provocateurs start fights. When Pauline finally invites Woody for a home-cooked meal, he learns she is a rich widow living in luxury, and he asks if she is embarrassed about having so much while others have nothing. He tells her about the down-and-out people he met on the road, and how generous they are, whereas people with money are defensive. Still, he says, Pauline is the only rich person who ever looked back at him. He spends a few nights with her, but when she expresses her happiness, he confesses that he has a wife and kids in Texas, then leaves. With stacks of fan mail arriving at the radio station, Woody and singer Memphis Sue get a show of their own, with a higher salary, but Locke insists that new sponsors want Woody to refrain from singing about unions and down-trodden workers. Though Woody resists, Ozark tells him his radio job is to entertain and stay popular, not to preach. At first Woody goes along, but soon performs his hard-edged songs, and Locke demands a song list ahead of time. In the meantime, Woody brings Mary and their children to Los Angeles, where he has rented a house, but he feels uncomfortable with the greed and wealth around him and says it was easier when everybody was poor back in Texas. Mary is worried about his rebelliousness because she does not want to go back to “hard times.” Luther, bruised from a beating, visits Woody at the station to tell him how much his songs inspire people in the field, and asks him to keep it up. After delivering a list of safe songs to Locke, Woody tears up a studio room in frustration. Carrying his guitar, he hops a train, leaves Los Angeles, and visits migrant camps, factories, and packing houses, singing protest songs. At a fruit packing plant, company men beat him and smash his guitar. Woody lives in boxcars, talking to people he meets, including a runaway boy. When Woody returns to Los Angeles, Locke gives him one last chance, then fires him for dedicating a song to farm workers. As Woody leaves, Ozark tells him that Baker, an agent, booked him on a coast-to-coast CBS radio show and at an audition for the Ambassdor Hotel’s Cocoanut Grove. Woody buys toys for his children, but when he gets home, Mary and the girls are gone. At the hotel audition, the owner likes Woody but wants to dress him in overalls and put him in a hillbilly band. Woody walks out, telling Ozark he does not want to sing for the rich and lose touch with real people. He goes to the railroad yard, jumps on a train, and sings his songs from the top of a boxcar.
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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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