Art-house films: ‘Phil Ochs,’ ‘The Grace Card’
by Bill Stamets
This well-made documentary profiles folk singer Phil Ochs (1940-1976) and also chronicles the counterculture of the ’60s. Director Kenneth Bowser’s writing and producing credits include documentaries about John Ford, John Wayne, Frank Capra and Preston Sturges. He also directed “Easy Riders, Raging Bulls,” a look at a renegade generation of Hollywood directors in the ’70s.
The Films Of Folkways
There was a time when the names of Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan were of equal status. Those were the days of protest marches and protest singers: the early ’60s, when fashion and politics coincided briefly. But fashion moved on. Since then, Dylan has become an international icon with almost god-like status and Phil Ochs is largely forgotten, except by those who were around during the folk scene.
Drive Angry 3D, Hall Pass & Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
by Steve Prokopy
Sometimes, the value of a documentary is in the learning more than the form the film takes. For example, director Kenneth Bowser's well-researched, extremely knowledgeable work about folk-singing legend Phil Ochs is a fairly standard issue biography with talking-head interviews, films clips, and lot of Ochs' powerful music. I knew a bit about Ochs because I had a history professor in college who was obsessed with him, and would take any opportunity to pull out one of Ochs' albums (on vinyl, naturally) to play for the class.
Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune
by Josef Braun
Phil Ochs went to New York to become the world's greatest songwriter, but he met Bob Dylan and thereafter amended his ambition: he'd settle for second greatest. Dylan, who does not appear in Kenneth Bowser's Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, was reportedly unkind to Ochs, despite a friendship that would last until Ochs' death in 1976. Yet Dylan's advice to Ochs, his insistence that songs be grounded in the personal as much as the political, tells us a great deal about the difference between these mutually single-minded, era-defining artists.