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 review of the film, not the person or music See more (11 total) »



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

Joan Baez ... Friend / Musician / Activist
Jello Biafra ... Friend / Musician
Dave Blue ... Himself (archive footage)

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 B. 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 »
Love Me I'm a LiberalSee more »


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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful.
a review of the film, not the person or music, 3 February 2013
Author: zee from United States

The other reviewers seem to be reviewing Och's music or the 60's protest movement itself. I'm going to review the film, which was only so-so.

I'm a great fan of documentary films, but this one was not exceptional. The inclusion of so much archival footage was interesting and the movement was fairly accurately portrayed. But as a biography, it felt incomplete to me and could have used the inclusion of opinions not just by his contemporaries, but professionals who could have offered insight into his psychiatric problems. Indeed, every time the film got close to looking at any issue in depth, it skittered away to some other topic, so I was left frustrated. In the end, I felt I'd watched just another"lite" celebrity biography like the ones I saw on A & E during the two years I owned a TV. A great biographical film leaves me with insight into not only the subject but a deeper understanding into the human heart.

Examples of missed opportunities: at one point in an old interview, Ochs says he's exploring contrapunctal music. Here, you could have inserted a music theory prof pointing out in what song that manifested. Or, examine what was it like to be "just a folkie" but have aspirations to write more complex music. There really is no information about his song-writing except he liked to do it.

This failing of the film extends to the personal. There's one sour, wry woman from his past who seems the only one willing to be critical of Ochs's whoring, narcissism, etc., but despite having interesting things to say, it's hard to credit her insights for she comes off as just bitter. Why not find some psychologist willing to talk about narcissistic personalities, coupled with the manic depression and alcoholism, so that we can see how Ochs deteriorated so badly? (and that was new information for me--he had severe psychotic breaks at the end of his life) Or surely some psychologist has written/researched about how, when the Vietnam War ended and Nixon had resigned, there was widespread depression among protest cats because they felt superfluous--interview that person rather than only Joan Baez who mentions it but not in a greatly illuminating way.

Instead, they relied mostly on family members and close friends, who had to a large extent mythologized him, the way we all do over the years, creating narratives that match our internalized metanarratives rather than remembering accurately. For instance, they skimmed over Ochs's frequenting of whorehouses worldwide, and while it's good they included such ugly behavior and didn't try to paint him as holy and purely wonderful, the interviews with the ex-wife (still-wife? the movie doesn't tell us how or if the marriage ended) had stopped by that point in the film--gee, I'd like to have known what she felt when she figured out he was doing this (just a list of STDs he brought home would have been illuminating). I also wondered if he had been autopsied and there was brain damage from syphilis also adding to his severe mental deterioration at the end of his life. So much good info to mine, but the film skitters along the surface.

Perhaps the reason for that is that they were trying to fit it into a time limit, and if so, were willing to sacrifice clarity or better art for commercial considerations...but if so, perhaps cutting out a few of the old protest march performances would have allowed for more depth.

All the interviews were talking heads indoors; the film would have been more visually interesting had they varied this.

The end song over the credits was a great choice. Van Ronk's performance raised goosebumps for me.

Some good, some bad, but for me not a satisfying whole.

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