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 #338

The Rocket Man
(Oscar Rudolph; 1954)


Peter Nellhaus said...

In case anyone wondered, yes, the screenplay is by THE Lenny Bruce. Thank you, masked man!

Tom Sutpen said...

I think I still have a copy of this film somewhere. Needless to say, it's a strange experience watching it when you know it was written by Lenny Bruce (I believe it was the only picture he worked on during his stint at 20th Century-Fox).

swac said...

The idea of Charles Coburn and John Agar uttering dialogue by Lenny Bruce makes the mind reel.

Sam said...

Does anyone know what the movie is about and is it actually good?

Tom Sutpen said...


I've seen it; in fact I may still have a copy around here on VHS. From what I can remember, it's about an orphan who gets hold of a ray gun that, when trained on adults, renders them incapable of lying. with the standard consequences. That's the gimmick, anyway (in fact it's not unlike a lighthearted Twilight Zone episode in that respect). Much of the plot, however, revolves around a corrupt politician who gets busted for drunk driving, and seeks revenge on the locals by trying to get their orphanage shut down (not to resort to spoilers, but the kid with the ray gun saves the day).

It's an insteresting movie, mostly for its slight edge of cynicism; something you didn't see in Kid Sci-Fi pictures of the 1950s. Beyond that, there's nothing to suggest this had been written a man who, just ten years later, would be practically on his knees before a three-judge panel in New York, begging them (literally) not to brand him as a pornographer.

Great to see thee again on these shores, Sam.