IMDb > Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune (2010)
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune
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Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune (2010) More at IMDbPro »

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Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune -- From civil rights to the anti-war movement to the scandals of Watergate, protest singer Phil Ochs wrote songs that engaged his audiences in the issues of the 1960s and 70s. In this biographical documentary, veteran director Kenneth Bowser shows how Phil's fascinating life story and music were intertwined with the history-making events that defined a generation.
Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune -- First 3 minutes of the film.


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Release Date:
5 January 2011 (USA) See more »
From civil rights to the anti-war movement to the struggles of workers, folksinger Phil Ochs wrote topical... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
A singer who reflected his times and gave it new definition See more (13 total) »



Salvador Allende ... Himself (archive footage)
Erik Andersen ... Himself (archive footage)

Joan Baez ... Friend / Musician / Activist
Jello Biafra ... Friend / Musician

Billy Bragg ... Musician / Activist
Lola Cohen ... Friend / Activist
François De Menil ... Filmmaker

Bob Dylan ... Friend / Musician
Harald Edelstam ... Swedish Ambassador Chile (archive footage)
Deni Frand ... Friend / Political Organizer
Jim Glover ... Friend / Musician

Arthur Gorson ... Friend / Manager
Tom Hayden ... Friend / Political Activist

Judy Henske ... Friend / Musician

Christopher Hitchens ... Journalist / Author
Abbie Hoffman ... Friend / Political Activist (archive footage)
Jac Holzman ... Founder, Elektra Records
Hubert H. Humphrey ... Himself (archive footage)
Erik Jacobsen ... Friend / Musician
Víctor Jara ... Singer / Activist (archive footage)

Lyndon Johnson ... Himself (archive footage)

John F. Kennedy ... Himself (archive footage)

Robert F. Kennedy ... Himself (archive footage)

Martin Luther King ... Himself (archive footage)

Henry Kissinger ... Himself (archive footage)
Paul Krassner ... Friend / Political Activist
Larry Marks ... Producer, A&M Records
Lincoln Mayorga ... Friend / Pianist
Jerry Moss ... Co-Founder, A&M Records
Jack Newfield ... Friend / Journalist (archive footage)

Richard Nixon ... Himself (archive footage)
Alice Ochs ... Wife / Photographer
Meegan Lee Ochs ... Daughter (as Meegan Ochs)

Michael Ochs ... Brother / Personal Manager
Phil Ochs ... Himself (archive footage)
Sonny Ochs ... Sister

Van Dyke Parks ... Friend / Record Producer

Sean Penn ... Actor / Activist

Elvis Presley ... Himself (archive footage)
Jerry Rubin ... Friend / Political Activist (archive footage)
Ed Sanders ... Friend / Musician / Activist

Pete Seeger ... Friend / Musician
Larry 'Ratso' Sloman ... Friend / Writer
Lucian Truscott IV ... Friend / Writer
Dave Van Ronk ... Friend / Folksinger (archive footage)

John Wayne ... Himself (archive footage)
Fred Weintraub ... Friend / Owner The Bitter End
Cora Weiss ... Friend / Political Organizert
Andy Wickham ... Friend / Record Producer

Peter Yarrow ... Friend / Musician

Directed by
Kenneth Bowser 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Kenneth Bowser 

Produced by
Elliot Abbott .... executive producer
Kenneth Bowser .... producer
Sean Campbell .... post producer
Michael Cohl .... producer
Michael Farrell .... co-producer
Zev Greenfield .... associate producer
Brian MacDonald .... assistant producer
Riva Marker .... associate producer
Brian McDonald .... co-producer
Lizzy McGlynn .... co-producer
Michael Ochs .... producer
Sage Scully .... co-producer
Katie N. Young .... associate producer (as Katie Ehrman)
Cinematography by
Jarred Alterman 
Jefferson Miller 
Film Editing by
Pamela Scott Arnold 
Art Department
Scott Kawczynski .... art director: graphics
Scott Kawczynski .... titles art direction and design
Jeremy Salig .... art director: graphics
Jeremy Salig .... titles art direction and design
Wesley Townsend .... art director: graphics (as Wes Townsend)
Wesley Townsend .... titles art direction and design (as Wes Townsend)
Ian B. Wile .... creative design
Sound Department
Paul Rusnak .... sound
Bob Schuck .... sound
Jose Smith .... sound
Tami Stepanek .... sound
Donny Tam .... sound
Camera and Electrical Department
Vinny Aliberto .... additional camera
Jarred Alterman .... camera operator
Nick August-Perna .... camera operator
Emily Bonilla .... additional camera
Jacob Cohl .... camera operator
Zach Driscoll .... additional camera (as Zack Driscoll)
Zev Greenfield .... camera operator
Robert Humphreys .... camera operator
Alexa Ihrt .... gaffer
Tom Kaufman .... camera operator
Brian Lawton .... gaffer
Jefferson Miller .... camera operator
Petr Stepanek .... additional camera
Editorial Department
Vivian Connolly .... additional post-production facilities
John Dowdell .... digital intermediate colorist
Will Fleisher .... additional editor
Tim Geraghty .... editor: research assembly
Jesse Gordon .... on-line editor
Katie Hinsen .... digital intermediate editor
Jake Keene .... assistant editor
Randy Little .... colorist (as Randy S. Little)
Jeremy Salig .... assistant editor
Dino Sanacory Jr. .... additional post-production facilities (as Dino Sanacory)
Dave Tescon .... additional post-production facilities
Tal Ullman .... additional post-production facilities
Stephen Vittoria .... editor: Theatrical Trailer
Ian B. Wile .... additional editor
Music Department
Allison Casey .... audio post-production
Evan Greenspan .... music clearences (as Evan M. Greenspan Inc.)
Kevin Magowan .... music clearences
Joe Mendelson .... audio post-production
Sasha Peterfreund .... audio post-production
Joel Raabe .... audio post-production
Greg Wells .... audio post-production
Other crew
Erek Barsczewski .... additional researcher
Caren Bell .... unit publicist
Jessica Berman Bogdan .... additional researcher
Josh Brown .... distribution advisor: Submarine Entertainment
Michael A. Epstein .... production accountant
Olivia Fernandez-Castano .... production assistant
Carrie Gerstein .... legal counsel: S2BN
Marilyn G. Haft .... legal counsel
April Lacerenza .... production assistant
Steve Rath .... production accountant
Andre Rodrigues .... production assistant
Lexi Steigelman .... production coordinator
Marc Stollman .... legal counsel: S2BN
Richard Sullivan .... researcher
Robert Taylor .... production insurance
Nancy B. Wolff .... legal counsel
Buddy Cohl .... special thanks
Debbie Harry .... special thanks (as Blondie)
Amy Irving .... special thanks
Harold Niman .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

96 min

Did You Know?

The footage of Phil Ochs singing on TV with John Byner is from the musical series Byner hosted called "Something Else" (1970).See more »
Lou MarshSee more »


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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
A singer who reflected his times and gave it new definition, 25 July 2011
Author: Howard Schumann from Vancouver, B.C.

Many of us are familiar with such songs of the sixties as "I Ain't Marching Anymore," "There but for Fortune", "Love Me, I'm a Liberal," and "When I'm Gone" without remembering that the author was Phil Ochs, a singer/songwriter whose name is hardly recognized today. Kenneth Bowser, in his documentary Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune, makes sure that we find out. The film traces Ochs' rise from his beginnings as a young performer in the Greenwich Village folk scene in the early sixties to his prominence as a protest singer in the ongoing struggle against war, racism, and injustice. An artist who developed a sizable following, Ochs' self-inflicted death in 1976 at the age of 35 was a tragic signpost of the end of an era.

Though the documentary breaks no new ground, its format of photos, live concert footage, and personal interviews keeps it lively and interesting, although the quick snippets we hear of Ochs' songs make it difficult to fully appreciate his talent. Interviews are conducted with Phil's brother Michael who acted as his manager, folk singers Pete Seeger, Judy Henske, and Joan Baez, actor Sean Penn, activist Tom Hayden, journalist Christopher Hitchens, and others, but not seen is Ochs' prominent contemporary, Bob Dylan. Bowser reveals that Dylan had a falling out with Ochs when Bob unsuccessfully tried to steer Phil away from what he considered to be his one-dimensional approach to song writing and urged him to express more of his personal feelings.

As a consequence, Dylan, to put it mildly, is not spoken of highly in the film and his estrangement with Ochs continued until Bob joined Phil years later for a benefit concert for Victor Jara, a Chilean protest singer who was brutally murdered by Pinochet. As has been repeated often, the sixties was a time when young people truly believed that energy and idealism could change society, only to be disillusioned when powerful forces in and out of government tipped the scales in favor of political assassinations and military adventurism. As a frustrated protest movement splintered and gave way to the political theater of the Yippie culture personified by Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, and the Weather Underground began a campaign of setting off bombs on government property, Phil Ochs career began to slide.

The murders of John and Bobby Kennedy, the democratically-elected Chilean Socialist Salvador Allende, and the killings at Kent State, hit him very hard as did the continuation of the senseless war in Vietnam. Ochs also continued to grapple with alcoholism and the bi-polar disease inherited from his father. His downward spiral was exacerbated when he was attacked while walking on a beach in Dar es Salaam in Africa, causing him to lose strength and range in his singing voice. Ochs' behavior took on bizarre aspects when he appeared at a concert in Carnegie Hall dressed in an Elvis Presley gold suit, shouting at his audience, "We need to turn Elvis Presley into Che Guevara." Though Ochs was not a major artist in the mold of Bob Dylan whose lyrics reverberated with poetry and breadth of vision, much of his work was important and inspiring, a singer who reflected his times and gave it new definition. He was "a young man with many reasons why" but when he was no longer young and the causes he fought for were foundering, his grip on reality started slipping and he knew that he would no longer "suffer from the pain when he was gone." When Dave van Ronk sang "He was a Friend of Mine" at Ochs' memorial concert, the words of Eminem could be heard saying, "And when I'm gone, just carry on, don't mourn. Rejoice every time you hear the sound of my voice."

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