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

Visionary Film #18

Wonder Bar
(Lloyd Bacon & Busby Berkeley; 1934)


Ryland Walker Knight said...

Holy hell that is amazing.

Tom Sutpen said...

'Don't Say Good-Night' is an extraordinary piece of filmmaking and one of the most baroque creations Busby Berkeley pulled out of his head.

It had the misfortune, however, of appearing in the film Wonder Bar approximately 30 minutes before a truly jaw-dropping 10 minutes of film entitled 'Goin' to Heaven on a Mule'; nothing less than the most artful deployment of baldly racist imagery ever conceived, ever wrought, ever seen. I defy anyone to watch Wonder Bar and have a clear recollection of the 75 minutes preceding that number.

swac said...

True...Goin' to Heaven on a Mule is kind of like the Triumph of the Will moment of Hollywood musicals. It's on YouTube if you're truly curious (gee, for some reason it got left off the recent compilation DVD in the Berkeley box set).

There's also an Isadore "Friz" Freleng Merrie Melodies short featuring the same tune, with equal effect.