(1976)4.5Michael BetzoldOne of America's most powerful troubadours was the legendary folk-singing social activist Woody Guthrie, and this lushly photographed and carefully told tale presents him honestly, warts and all. Using Guthrie's own words and music, screenwriter Robert Getchell and director Hal Ashby recreate the pivotal Great Depression years during which Guthrie left the Dust Bowl for California, took up singing, and got involved in union organizing. David Carradine's portrayal of Guthrie is deeply affecting but never maudlin. The filmmakers put considerable effort into portraying Guthrie's personal failings as part of his authentic humanity. The great cinematographer Haskell Wexler won an Academy Award for his mythic American landscapes, and Bound for Glory was nominated for five other Oscars. Some critics unfairly compared the film to the classic The Grapes of Wrath, with which it shares subject matter and viewpoint. Bound for Glory is a rare latter-day portrait of social unrest and progressive populism in the United States.