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Bound for Glory (1976)


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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 3
Fresh: 1 | Rotten: 2



liked it
Average Rating: 3.6/5
User Ratings: 1,296

My Rating

Movie Info

Adapted by Robert Getchell from Woody Guthrie's autobiography, Hal Ashby's biopic portrays a few pivotal years in the life of the celebrated folk singer and social activist. In the Depression 1930s, Midwesterner Guthrie (David Carradine) plays music locally but cannot make enough as a sign painter to support his wife (Melinda Dillon) and children. With only his paintbrushes, Woody joins the migration westward from the Dust Bowl to supposedly greener California pastures via boxcar and



Feb 29, 2000

United Artists

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All Critics (17) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (3) | DVD (2)

One half of a very good movie.

May 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Bound for Glory is outstanding biographical cinema, not only of the late Woody Guthrie but also of the 1930s Depression era which served to disillusion, inspire and radicalize him and millions of other Americans.

October 31, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An overlong, sentimental and lifeless biopic of Woody Guthrie.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A moving, brilliantly photographed picture that portrays the legendary eccentric folksinger Woody Guthrie in a trip across Depression-era America.

October 31, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Though made with an eye for the Bicentennial, this biopic of folk singer and union organizer Woody Guthrie didn't make any attempt to speak to contemporary viewers, which might explain its box-office failure.

May 5, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

Hope you like folk music, because there isn't much variety to be found among his music. Neither is there much variety in the scenery.

February 8, 2004 Full Review Source:

A remarkably touching and humane film about Woody Guthrie

January 18, 2004 Full Review Source: Spirituality and Practice
Spirituality and Practice

The major strengths of the movie are Haskell Wexler's cinematography and the score (both of which deservedly picked up Oscars): they create a sense of time and place perfectly in accord with the story.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4

Elegant, shamefully forgotten celebration of one of America's true patriots.

August 4, 2002
Tyler Morning Telegraph (Texas)

Audience Reviews for Bound for Glory

Great performance by David Carradine but some of the domestic stuff plays a bit like a made for TV movie to me.

Hey look! Annother bare-bones DVD realease from MGM! I shouldn't complain, at least the transfer was decent which is way better than the usual from these clowns.
July 3, 2007

Super Reviewer

This might be based on folk legend Woody Guthrie's autobiography, but it comes off as less of a biopic, and more of an origin story of sorts, basically a tale of how a situation not all that dissimilar from The Grapes of Wrath led to a man changing the face of folk music and specifically politically charged protest tunes.

It also is the first time that I actually felt rather underwhelmed and let down by Hal Ashby. This is a very well meaning film, and some of it is done quite well, but overall, this is far more flawed than I was expecting.

I think it might have to do with the fact that for some reason, it comes off as feeling like a cheap, TV movie of the week sort of affair, and not some epic look at how Woody Guthrie helped get people through the Great Depression. The pacing is pretty slow and uneven, and the way the film is structured is like this, too. It's kinda all over the map.

I do think that David Carradine gives a great performance though. It's definitely one of his best. He carries the film, and ultimately saves it from being worse. Ronny Cox is also good, probably the second best one here, but where Melinda Dillon and Randy Quaid are concerned, I was let down. I love those two, but they just didn't do it for me.

I said the film feels cheap, but that's surprising since Haskell Wexler's cinematography is quite good. It definitely captures the essence of the era, so maybe the TV feelings come from the execution. Plus, this film featured what I believe was the first steadicam-based long take tracking shot, and I generally just go nuts for that sort of things.

All in all, this film is an overlong mess, but it does have its moments. Carradine and Wexler make it worth it, but I feel like somebody really dropped the ball here, and that this is one of the times where I think a remake is definitely warranted.
October 3, 2012
Chris Weber

Super Reviewer

I could watch David Carradine and Ronny Cox sing duets all day, especially when it is being filmed by Haskell Wexler. The film looks beautiful and is more about Guthrie's music and its roots (almost a pre-cursor to Haynes' Bob Dylan bio-pic). The problem is that the movie rambles too much and ends too quickly, wrapping up too nicely for my taste. Carradine and Cox give amazing performances, but the film falls a little short.
January 22, 2011

Super Reviewer

As a fan of Guthrie's music and someone who has always been oddly drawn to the stories of depression era America (it's so surreal!) I found this film to be enjoyable to spike the fact that it feels (at times) a bit "made for tv".

It is just as much a film about the period as it is about Guthrie and his music. So much so that I was left wishing it would have given more details about him and his life.
August 16, 2010
Robert C

Super Reviewer

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Foreign Titles

  • Bound for Glory + Shampoo (DE)
  • Bound for Glory + Shampoo (UK)
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