The Explanation
(for those who require one)

And, of course, that is what all of this is -- all of this: the one song, ever changing, ever reincarnated, that speaks somehow from and to and for that which is ineffable within us and without us, that is both prayer and deliverance, folly and wisdom, that inspires us to dance or smile or simply to go on, senselessly, incomprehensibly, beatifically, in the face of mortality and the truth that our lives are more ill-writ, ill-rhymed and fleeting than any song, except perhaps those songs -- that song, endlesly reincarnated -- born of that truth, be it the moon and June of that truth, or the wordless blue moan, or the rotgut or the elegant poetry of it. That nameless black-hulled ship of Ulysses, that long black train, that Terraplane, that mystery train, that Rocket '88', that Buick 6 -- same journey, same miracle, same end and endlessness."
-- Nick Tosches, Where Dead Voices Gather

The Art of Cinema #43

Image hosted by
(James Cruze; 1923)

(mucho mucho thanks to Jim King for this image)


swac said...

I've been a little obsessed with this film ever since I first spotted this poster in a Sotheby's film poster auction catalogue. Alas, I quickly discovered that for whatever reason (it's Paramount for a start), no print of the film is known to exist. For an idea of how heartbreaking this is, click the link atop the image and check out the IMDb entry for this star-studded look at the grinding wheels of the movie business.

Tom Sutpen said...


I'd read that this was one of those films with a plethora of cameos, but from the
IMDb link it seems like the entire Paramount lot was showed up (and then some).

It's an old lament, but . . . whydid they let these films slip through their fingers?


swac said...

Sadly, once sound hit, those vaults full of silent titles became a financial and safety liability. Those pesky vault fires--London After Midnight existed up into the '60s, until it met a fiery death--were a real danger. And it simply wasn't worth it to the studios to devote any time, energy, space and $ to maintaining libraries of films they couldn't release (and could recover the silver from the nitrate).

Tom Sutpen said...

Yeah. I knew all that. Mine was just a rhetorical question needs to be asked every once in a while in case we all forget.

swac said...

I figured as much. But for all those other fine folks out there in television land who are just figuring out that the bulk of our early film heritage has either crumbled into dust, gone up in flames or been purposefully destroyed...a refresher never hurts.

Can't help it...I'm a sucker for rhetorical questions...