By David Browne
Updated March 17, 2020 at 03:06 AM EDT

This Machine Kills Fascists: The Woody Guthrie Story

A-
type
  • Movie
genre

”Pastures of Plenty,” the title of one of Woody Guthrie’s best-known ballads, could also apply to this exhaustive history lesson. Director Stephen Gammond meticulously traces the often tragic life of the impish folk giant in This Machine Kills Fascists: The Woody Guthrie Story, from the mysterious house fires that dogged Guthrie’s family to the Jersey hospital where he spent his last years (succumbing to Huntington’s disease in 1967 at age 55). Gammond compensates for the shocking paucity of Guthrie footage with frank interviews with friends and family (daughter Nora is particularly spunky and Woody-like) and period clips (Texas dust bowls, scarier than any CGI trickery), though we could have done without the odd, recurring shots of a headless guitarist playing Guthrie songs. Narrator Billy Bragg says Guthrie was ”the first alternative musician,” but given his infidelities, bawdy humor, roughhewn voice, and hard-knock life lessons, Guthrie comes off more like the first rapper. EXTRAS None.

Episode Recaps

This Machine Kills Fascists: The Woody Guthrie Story

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
director
Advertisement

Comments