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Bound for Glory (1976 film)

Bound for Glory is a 1976 American biographical film directed by Hal Ashby and loosely adapted by Robert Getchell from Woody Guthrie's 1943 partly fictionalized autobiography Bound for Glory. The film stars David Carradine as folk singer Woody Guthrie, with Ronny Cox, Melinda Dillon, Gail Strickland, John Lehne, Ji-Tu Cumbuka and Randy Quaid.[3]

Bound for Glory
Bound for glory Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed byHal Ashby
Produced byRobert F. Blumofe
Harold Leventhal
Screenplay byRobert Getchell
Based onBound for Glory
1943 book
by Woody Guthrie
StarringDavid Carradine
Ronny Cox
Melinda Dillon
Gail Strickland
Music byLeonard Rosenman (conductor and music adaptor)
George Brand
Joan Biel
Guthrie Thomas
Ralph Ferraro
CinematographyHaskell Wexler
Edited byPembroke J. Herring
Robert C. Jones
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • December 5, 1976 (1976-12-05) (United States)
Running time
147 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$10 million[1] or $7 million[2]

Bound for Glory was the first motion picture in which inventor/operator Garrett Brown used his new Steadicam for filming moving scenes.[4] Director of Photography Haskell Wexler won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography at the 49th Academy Awards.

All of the main events and characters, except for Guthrie and his first wife, Mary, are entirely fictional. The film ends with Guthrie singing his most famous song, "God Blessed America" (subsequently retitled "This Land Is Your Land"), on his way to New York, but, in fact, the song was composed in New York in 1940 and forgotten by him until five years later.


During the Dust Bowl period of the Great Depression in the 1930s, Woody Guthrie (David Carradine) was not able to support his family as a sign painter and a local musician in Pampa, Texas. After hearing all the great things about California, he decided to join the migration westward to supposedly greener California pastures via boxcar and hitchhiking. He left without saying a word with only a note to his wife (Melinda Dillon). Woody discovered the cruel truth of California's fruit-pickers and joined Ozark Blue (Ronny Cox) to fight for the people with their songs. He became a celebrated folk singer on radio with partners Ozark and Memphis Sue (Melinda Dillon) while still fighting for his causes. Meanwhile, he developed a romance with Pauline (Gail Strickland) before getting his family to a middle-class home in California. Woody's refusal to conform to the musical business practice and obsession with the hobo campers' causes would threaten to break up his family and derail his music career which is gaining recognition. At the end, he decides to go to New York to sing for the people. Much of the film is based on Guthrie's attempt to humanize the desperate Okie Dust Bowl refugees in California during the Great Depression.[5]


with appearances by


Arthur Krim of United Artists agreed to finance the film on the basis of Ashby's reputation, even before a star had signed on.[2]

Dustin Hoffman and Jack Nicholson both turned down the role. Richard Dreyfuss was considered. Tim Buckley was going to be offered the part but died of a drug overdose. Ashby interviewed David Carradine but turned him down, in part because he felt Carradine was too tall. However over time he reconsidered. "He had the right rural look and the musicianship," said Ashby. "And he had a ‘to hell with you’ attitude."[2]

Ashby later said Carradine's "to hell with you" attitude did cause him some problems during filming. :Once, when we were doing a scene, some migrant workers marched by. David started marching with them. By the time we found him, he was two miles away; and he had held up shooting for three hours.”[2]


As of December 2019, Bound for Glory holds a rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 21 reviews.[7]

Academy AwardsEdit

Other AccoladesEdit

Besides the Academy Awards, this film won 1976 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Cinematography (Haskell Wexler) and National Board of Review Award for Best Actor (David Carradine). It was nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards as well as Palme d'Or in 1977 Cannes Film Festival.

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. ^ "The Films of Hal Ashby". Beach, Christopher (2009). Detroit, Michigan: Wayne State University Press, p. 176, ISBN 978-0-8143-3415-7.
  2. ^ a b c d Harmetz, Aljean (5 December 1976). "Gambling on a Film About the Great Depression". New York Times.
  3. ^ Bound for Glory on IMDb
  4. ^ "Steadicam 30th anniversary press release". Archived from the original on 2014-04-30.
  5. ^ Lucia Bozzola. "Bound for Glory (1976) – Hal Ashby – Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related – AllMovie". AllMovie. Retrieved 28 December 2015.
  6. ^ Bound for Glory on IMDb
  7. ^
  8. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-07-30.

External linksEdit