Hal Ashby depicts a long-ago America in the grips of the Depression and Dust Bowl in the story of itinerant balladeer Woody Guthrie (Carradine), who, in his countless songs, gave voice to the hopes and fears of his fellow wanderers, searching for jobs offering a living wage. Ronny Cox plays union organizer Ozark Bale, who raises Woody's consciousness and helps direct his music to the best of causes. (Also look for Randy Quaid in his film debut.)
This affecting film achieves potent immediacy via its vivid recreation of period, thanks to Ashby's keen eye and Haskell Wexler's stunning cinematography. Carradine embodies the everyman engine of America's heartland in his rendering of Guthrie, an ordinary man with an extraordinary gift — the ability to inspire those who have virtually nothing left but hope. "Bound for Glory" is both a triumphant film and an important history lesson, suitable for viewing with older children.