Friday, March 20, 2009

"This was supposed to be a love-fest..." - David Carradine

David Carradine may believe that the performance of his career was as the iconic folk singer in Hal Ashby's Woody Gutherie biopic BOUND FOR GLORY, but Wednesday night at the Aero, the actor gave the audience that turned out to see the film revived on the big screen, one hell of a show when he appeared in person for a post-screening discussion of the film with film critic Kevin Thomas, host of the monthly series: "Kevin Thomas' Favorite Films."

BOUND FOR GLORY may go down in LA cinema history as one of Kevin Thomas' most infamous, "favorites" of the series (last month he interviewed the more docile members of the "girl band" from SOME LIKE IT HOT.) On this night, there was mayhem interspersed with musical numbers, sing-a-longs, accusations and plenty of mudslinging from a cast of characters that hadn't forgotten the trials and tribulations of exactly how they suffered through making a movie together 34 years ago!

Veteran cinematographer Haskall Wexler (who won an Oscar for his work on BOUND FOR GLORY) and actor Ronny Cox (who gives a spirited performance as Ozark the singing union organizer) happened to have heard the film was playing and came down to revisit it on the big screen after 30+ years. Kevin Thomas invited them on stage to join he and Carradine to, presumably partake in pleasant reminiscences of making BOUND FOR GLORY.

As it turned out, Carradine, guitar case in hand, arrived a bit early for the q & a and started doing live commentary from the back of the theatre. It didn't go over too well from the sound of the "sshhhh's" and "that's enough" from audience members. This was not unlike Lawrence Tierney's interruption of an early Film Noir presentation of one of his films at the Egyptian Theatre. Although the Aero has been presenting a Live Commentary series (Wes Craven will take a crack at it on March 29 with A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET), Cinematheque audiences apparently are NOT fans of impromptu live commentary. Clearly they prefer to hear from actors ONSCREEN, more than off -- at least while the movie is actually running. Tierney, getting on in years at the time of his unwelcome during-screening ranting, suffered from a bladdar problem. He punctuated his interference by urinating in a Prince of Egypt cup volunteered by none other than Film Noir expert Eddie Muller (full story at

The fluid spilled at this event was definitely (figurative) blood.

Let's just say that things got interesting when audience members began to heckle Mr. Carradine as the conversation turned to a discussion of unions and how Mr. Carradine felt they needed to change. Cries of "You aren't Woody Gutherie, you're an actor" rang out. While this revelation was washing over certain audience members, Carradine continued espousing beliefs on the downfall of the American system and insinuated that we (the American People) were reliving the Great Depression. The "dissenter" rose loudly and exclaimed, "You know nothing about Unions," to which Carradine revealed that he was a card-carrying member of SAG (the Screen Actors Guild) and that he was once on the board. When the Cinematheque's publicist turned around to see who the "agitator" was in the audience something flew at her head.

Carradine's MICROPHONE!

Was he offering it to the dissenter or trying to throw a mic on a short cable at her from halfway across the room? It was unclear. But in the excitement that followed Carradine leapt down from the stage to profusely apologize, a volunteer brought a cup of ice over and long time friend Kevin Thomas expressed visible concern over a potential head injury. No head injury was sustained and even her bluetooth earpiece remained unscathed. When the melee died down the "Unions Expert" came towards the front of the house to continue her tirade. Carradine thought it was important for her to speak her mind. She did and then left as Carradine called after her, "You hate me, but I love you." Ronny Cox made a run for the door at this point, vanishing into the night, while Wexler stuck it out for combat.

Kevin Thomas, always the model of decorum ended the evening by thanking the guests (who were left) for giving him "new insight into the collaborative process of filmmaking."

Want to know more? You should have been there. Don't miss another Cinematheque q & a - they truly can be once in a lifetime experiences. What happens at the Cinematheque stays at the Cinematheque - although Joe Moe wrote a long piece on Forrest J Ackerman's tribute at the Egyptian on March 8 on which even includes Forry's last words in a video clip he made in his final days. And who knows, more on this GLORious q & a may appear on a blog somewhere on the internet!

Photos Top to Bottom: David Carradine leads the audience in a rousing rendition of THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND including a verse that was sung by Pete Seeger at the Obama inauguration. (L-R) Haskall Wexler (who won the Academy Award for Cinematography for BOUND FOR GLORY) and actor Ronny Cox who played Ozark. (L-R) Kevin Thomas and David Carradine. Photos: Margot Gerber