I managed to find most of my long abandoned website and decided to put it back up online. Im still tweaking things here and there and have not put up everything yet that was contributed (including my rather naive 19 year old - at the time - mumblings), but if anyone has things they would like to add feel free to let me know.
I'd suggest a link to this series of notes on Masked and Anonymous
source material right here on ER: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=34593
I'd also suggest a link to my post "Bob Dylan, Jeff Bridges & The Monkey Girl" on my blog. It it I demonstrate how lines in the script are crafted out of material from a book of sideshow photography called In Search of the Monkey Girl
, including elements from an essay by Spalding Gray: http://swarmuth.blogspot.com/2010/03/bo ... -girl.html
The film still has a lot to give. For instance, in Masked and Anonymous
the character Bobby Cupid is based in part on Valentine Xavier from the Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending
. Marlon Brando played the role in the film version, which is called The Fugitive Kind
. Bobby Cupid = Valentine Xavier, the wordplay is clear. Bobby Cupid's snakeskin jacket is a visual clue, in that it is a key element in both the play and the Brando film.
In Masked and Anonymous
Bobby Cupid gives Jack Fate a guitar that he says belonged to Blind Lemon. The provenance of the guitar has been a topic of discussion in a number of places, for instance Eric Lott calls it into question in a lecture called "When Bob Dylan Came Knocking" that he gave at Dickinson College. The lecture is available on iTunes U. You'll find that Lott seems unwilling to even grant that it is Blind Lemon Jefferson that they are talking about.
In the play Val's guitar is autographed by Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. In The Fugitive Kind
Val says that the guitar was given to him by Lead Belly. Check out this clip from the film: http://youtu.be/AjXSmwbWnYs
In Masked and Anonymous
Bobby Cupid claims that he got the guitar from a guy who used to lead Blind Lemon around. If you check your Lead Belly history you discover that Lead Belly used to lead Blind Lemon Jefferson around. The chain of ownership, from Blind Lemon to Lead Belly to Val Xavier in disguise to Jack Fate, is right there. Xavier is also mentioned by name in a scene in the script that does not appear in the film.
In the film Ed Harris plays Oscar Vogel, the ghost of a blackface minstrel who was murdered for being politically outspoken. In the script there is a mention of Vogel's face being disfigured, but no mention of him being in blackface and that is something that had puzzled people who have studied the film.
I suggest that the reason that he is in blackface may have to do with Jeff Bridges. While watching the film with the commentary track by Larry Charles I noticed that in the Oscar Vogel section of the film he makes a passing mention of actor Larry Parks. Do a little research and you'll find that Parks played Al Jolson to great acclaim in both The Jolson Story
from 1946 and Jolson Sings Again
in 1949 - only to be blacklisted in the fifties after testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee.
Larry Parks was also Jeff Bridges' godfather. I'd wager that Larry Charles knew this connection, although he does not bring it up in the commentary. I think that it is likely that Jeff mentioned his godfather to either Dylan or Larry Charles while they were making the film and that led to Ed Harris appearing in blackface.