'Everything goes gonzo, never to return'

Journalist Chris Willman attended an American Cinematheque screening of the 1976 Woody Guthrie biopic "Bound for Glory" at the Aero Theatre that became, he writes on Facebook, "a nerve-wracking, weird and wonderful night" that had star David Carradine heckling the movie from the audience, co-star Ronny Cox walking out, cinematographer Haskell Wexler accusing the director Hal Ashby of coacaine abuse and a lot of shouting about unions. Willman had plans to leave early, but stayed for the panel and "narrowly avert[ed] what might have been one of the great regrets of my life."

Not since I saw Bill Irwin and Kathleen Turner go at each other in an excellent production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? a couple of years ago have I experienced a night of live theater quite as riveting...

For the first 20 minutes or so, Carradine does 98% of the talking—hell, maybe 99%—and it’s entertaining as all-get-out, in a had-too-many-highballs-before-dinner kind of way. As the star goes on with his anecdotes, Cox is probably thinking he could have stayed in his original seat, and Wexler keeps slinking further down in his chair, as those of us who know this particular d.p. does not suffer fools gladly wonder what kind of storm clouds might be forming in his head.

Much shouting, rancor between Wexler and Carradine and even an accidentally bonked head in the audience ensues while moderator Kevin Thomas watched silently. Afterward, Willman writes, "clusters of attendees form. Metaphorically, or maybe literally, I think we're all just trying to pat down the hair that’s been standing on end for the last hour. 'Between the aggressive panelists and audience and a moderator who wouldn’t stop anything, it was a perfect storm,' announces one guy." On his Facebook note, Willman is getting comments from friends such as "this is beyond the valley of the surreal" and "this is the first thing I've read on the internet this year that I would happily have paid for" and "wow, just...wow." Willman says it should be readable here, but you might have to be on Facebook.

More by Kevin Roderick:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Times gets a top editor with nothing but questions
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
LA Observed Notes: Photos of the homeless, photos that found homes
Recent Hollywood stories on LA Observed:
Standing up to Harvey Weinstein
The Media
LA Observed Notes: Harvey Weinstein stripped bare
Volleying with Rosie Casals
LACMA costumes curator on Queen Victoria as fashion icon
Costume designer Mary Zophres moves on from 'La La Land'
Robert Osborne, 84, host on Turner Classic Movies
Oscars end on a surprise plot twist*


LA Observed on Twitter