Reviews for American Experience - Woody Guthrie: Ain't Got No Home


Video Librarian Reviews
During the Depression era, Woody Guthrie became America's troubadour: traveling the highways, listening to the common folk, comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable. Considered a radical in his day, Guthrie is best remembered for the soaring anthem "This Land is Your Land," conceived as a response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America." Filmmaker Peter Frumkin's biographical documentary, part of the acclaimed PBS-aired American Masters series, offers a welcome reminder of Guthrie's provocative voice. Born July 14, 1912 into a prosperous middle-class family, the Guthrie fortune declined while Woody's mother slowly succumbed to the ravages of Huntington's disease, a dreaded neurological disorder that would eventually strike Guthrie himself. After discovering the guitar, Woody eventually began to make a precarious living singing folk and country songs--constantly traveling, singing on local radio stations, and playing before downtrodden farm workers and union members. Frumkin's profile looks at Guthrie's masterful use of common language to reach the masses in his songs, as well as his flirtation with the American Communist party (when America entered WWII, Guthrie quickly switched focus, proudly displaying a label on his guitar that read "this machine kills Fascists"). After the war, Woody married his second of three wives and seemed to be happy until a tragic fire killed his young daughter. By the early 1950s, Guthrie was already showing signs of the illness that would trap him inside his body, ultimately condemning the singer to silence. Combining archival footage and stills together with running commentary from Pete Seeger and others who knew and loved Guthrie, this is highly recommended. Aud: H, C, P. (S. Rees) Copyright Video Librarian Reviews 2008.

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