Phil Ochs on Film
This page is an attempt to document
appearances of Phil Ochs on film, TV, &c.
Note that everything I know about these films is on this page,
i.e. I do not know where to find them. If I did, I would share
I welcome any contributions.
A Phil Ochs Movie?
In the liner notes of
A Toast To Those Who Are Gone
Sean Penn mentions his intent to make a movie about Phil.
The status of this is uncertain, if you have any information about
this let me know.
Alf Storrud says:
``Recently I was offered these for sale but turned it down since the
price vas HIIIIGH!!!!''
Chords Of Fame directed by Michael
Korelenko starring Bill Burnett as Phil.
It was made in '83 or '84 and made the rounds of various festivals
(and aired on Channel 4 in Britain) but was never officially released.
The Farewell Performance of Phil Ochs is a film of Phil's
final permormance put together by Marc Eliot.
It has never been released.
Phil was present at the filming of Bob Dylan's film
Renaldo And Clara., and performed some songs
The Blue and the Gray,
Jimmy Brown the Newsboy,
Too Many Martyrs, and
Lay Down Your Weary Tune (a Dylan song).
Sadly (from what I hear) the final film doesn't include any of
I hope that the unused footage of Phil surfaces someday...
David Schulman tells me that Phil was on the Mike Douglas Show
in May 1968. "He sang
Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends, and perhaps one other.
Thomas Hanafee says: ``Phil was a guest on the old David Frost
talk show (a syndicated show distributed by Westinghouse). He
appeared right after the
Gunfight At Carnegie Hall
concert (March 1970). I remember at the start of the segment
Phil was sitting with Frost on the edge of the stage, right in
front of the audience. Phil told the story of the Carnegie
concert battle and sang
I Ain't Marching Anymore (with his acoustic guitar) to
demonstrate the 'old folkie' Phil Ochs. I remember that his
right hand was bandaged and Phil explained to Frost that right
after the concert some disgruntled fans had complained to Phil
that they felt gypped by the performance. So Phil had taken them
to the Carnegie box office to get their money back for them. The
box office was closed and Phil banged on the glass so hard
trying to get someone’s attention that he broke the glass,
cutting his hand in the process.
Next Frost cut to commercial and then Phil emerged in his Elvis
gold lame suit and performed with an electric band his Elvis
medley and maybe (if memory serves) a Buddy Holly medley. The
one thing I most remember in the interview was at the commercial
break David Frost, speaking to the camera was giving his teaser
to the home audience and said words to the affect that `We will
next see the suit that caused all this commotion. During the
commercial, Phil Ochs will go back stage and emerge like
Cinderella from her magic coach...' At this point Phil broke in
with `how about; like Superman from the phone booth?' Frost
agreed that Phil’s was a better metaphor."
There are short clips of Phil performing
I Ain't Marching Anymore in two different PBS shows:
Berkeley in the sixties and Making sense of
- Brin Studt reports:
``The BBC has produced a 26 part documentary called something like
A PEOPLE'S CENTURY-- it's an attempt to provide a social history
of the twentieth century from a non-elitist perspective, i.e.,
interviews and film of "average" folk struggling through the
century. I believe episode #20 is concerned with the sixties:
Civil Rights, anti-war movements and the like. In the section
dealing with student rights, especially the rights of college
students to change curriculum, living conditions, and related
matters, a short clip of Phil is shown: he's singing
I Going To Say It Now
to a group of students, almost certainly in California, and
probably at Berkeley.''
Janet Land says that she was at a Phil Ochs 'concert' (15 person
audience) that was made for PBS Channel 13
in N.Y. sometime around 67-68. It was aired at least 2 times
around that time. Does anyone know anything more about
this... or where to get a copy??
Phil Ochs: A Tribute
WWHY Video Products
in cooperation with NPR. Produced by Doug Bailey. Directed by
Doug Bailey and Russ Kneeland. 1976. Concert was at Felt Forum
at Madison Square Garden, May 28, 1976. Performers include:
Eric Anderson, Oscar Brand, Tim Hardin, Fred Hellerman, Ed
McCurdy, Odetta, Pete Seeger.
- John Wesley Harding
wrote a play about Phil, here is what he said about it:
Rehearsals was written (obviously the full title was RforR...)
for my theatre company - we also did a Kafka thing that year -
for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was fully rehearsed staged
and done but then Michael Ochs forbade me to do the play (thus
the cancellation) because it might cause some problems with the
film he was imminently making with Sean penn as Phil
Ochs. Obviously this film never appeared so shame all round -
the play would have been good, the film would have been good. I
have since become friends with Michael and done a number of
benefits for his neice. It was a massive shame it didn't happen
at the time, but I think it might be done one day - it works
rather well, at least on the page. We had two actors be Phil and
the whole play was set the night before he died looking back on
- The movie "Spanking the Monkey" contains at least two overt
references to Phil Ochs' suicide. In one, the lead character
says something like "Phil Ochs used a belt to commit suicide,"
to which his companion brilliantly responds, "Who's Phil Ochs?"
(I don't think any of Phil's music was included in the film,
though -- at least I didn't hear any!) -- Brett Garrett
- ``I've seen a film called ``Melvyn and Howard'' based on the legend of
Howard Hughes having befriended a hitch-hiker and making him his
heir. The film features *two* of Phil's songs: Gas Station Women and
My Kingdom For A
Car. They are heard in the
background track as the two are riding in a car. It was my
impression that they were intended to be perceived as coming
from the radio. As Phil's music almost never made it to the
radio I though this was superbly ironic.''
The film won an Academy Award in 1980 for Best Supporting
Actress: Mary Steenburgen.
-- David Staudacher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- ``Aileen Warnous: The Selling of a Serial Killer.''
There is a scene in which the woman's odd-ball attorney grabs
his guitar, pulls out his Phil Ochs songbook and serenades her
with The Iron Lady.
I'm not sure if the woman receives the death penalty, but she
definitely faces it for her crimes. A truly disturbing filmic
moment. -- Edward Hargrove
- A documentary film entitled UNDERGROUND (composed of
interviews of several members of the Weather Underground and shot in
1975(?)) which includes a short audio clip of
The War Is Over. In
addition, there's a docudrama of the Chicago Eight Trial (yes, Seale
counts!) recorded for HBO films(?) which includes an audio clip of
I Ain't Marching
Anymore (the background to Abbie's self-produced film
submitted as evidence by the defense team). -- Shimon Lerner
- The Smothers Brothers performed
Draft Dodger Rag
although it was censored from the broadcast. Fortunately
a film clip is available online.
- Valerio Orselli reports seeing
``a great Phil Ochs performance on PBS Channel 13 TV station in
New York. The name of the program was Soundstage. The
performance consisted on Phil Ochs on a high stool, playing
acoustic guitar. It lasted some 90 minutes. Amongst the songs
he performed was Crucifixion.
I don't recall the year, but he was in excellent form so it must
have been 1969-1972.''
Does anybody know anything about this??
- Ken Judkins tells me that Phil appeared on the old
"Midnight Special" TV show that was fairly popular on network TV
(I think it was ABC?) in the early '70's. He sang
Chords Of Fame.
I recall hearing or reading a story somewhere (years ago)
that Phil originally intended to sing
to the State of Richard Nixon, but it was nixed by the
I think I saw this clip as well, and if I remember right, he had
a cast on his right hand, and Jim Glover was singing backing
- Rich Sautter tells me:
I wanted to let you know about some Ochs footage I saw about 15
years ago. Apparently they filmed the acts that used to play at
The Bitter End, a New York coffeehouse, I believe in Greenwich
Village, back in the 60's. In the early 80's, they spliced
together some of those appearances for television syndication as
a series called (as I recall) "Live from the Bitter End", which
featured Rick Nelson as host, introducing the 20 year-old
segments. Phil's set included "I Ain't A-Marching", "Flower
Lady", "The War Is Over", and "And There But For Fortune".
Whether or not there was more film of Phil from that gig that
wasn't used in the series, I don't know. I wish I'd had a VCR
back then, because the sound and image reproduction was very
good and Phil was in fine form. I have no idea if this series
is available anywhere. I hope it is.
- Phil's voice made a cameo appearance on an episode of "Family Ties"
once. Michael Gross, as the Dad character, was listening to it on his
stereo. I think the song was
Days Of Decision.
``However these videotapes exist and the quality - I was told - was
Looking at this list, I realize that I saw many of them. They were
the ``opening act'' for Dave Van Ronk when he played the Aladdin
Theatre in Portland, OR (21-Feb-97)
- Come, Read To Me A Poem 1965 (The Highwayman, Interview,
- Bitter End 1967 (I Ain't Marching Anymore, The
War Is Over, There But For Fortune, Flower lady)
- Swisch (SWEDEN) 1968 (I Ain't Marching Anymore,
- Swedish TV 1968 (I'm Going To Say It Now,
Interview, The Ballad Of Joe Hill, I Ain't Marching Anymore,
- John Sinclair 10 For 2 Rally 1971 (Here's To The
State Of Richard Nixon)
Back to the Phil Ochs web page
Last modified 27 May 02 by trent