December 27th, 2009
Biopic of Woody Guthrie, based on his own writings. Features that guy from the Kung Fu TV series and Kill Bill, the late David Carradine, in the role of his lifetime. He does his own singing and shows a lot of heart, and aside from not looking much like Woody Guthrie — he doesn’t even have curly hair — he is terrific.
The movie is episodic, clearly cobbled together from anecdotes in Guthrie’s autobiography of the same name. The man appears as a whimsical drifter through life, befriending the common people and defying the powerful. We see him apparently able to cure a woman of what seems to be depression, stubbornly insisting on painting a sign in red instead of black, giving his last few coins to help out an Okie family, singing and brawling at union rallies, and seducing all the women in his path. (He tells them he wrote this song ‘just for them’. It works every time. He is the Tiger Woods of folk singers, and in the end his wife Mary takes the kids and leaves him to his wanderings.)
This movie is long, 2 1/2 hours, but I liked it so much that I didn’t notice. It makes a good companion piece with The Grapes of Wrath, which co-stars Carradine’s father John. You should see them both.
I love how one movie always leads to another. I’m a movie surfer. Next I think I’ll revisit the Bob Dylan biopic I’m not there.