Bagdad Cafe (1987)

Bagdad Cafe (1987), directed by Percy Adlon.

Abandoned by her husband in the Mojave Desert, a largish German woman finds her way to the decrepit dusty truckstop that makes up Bagdad CA. CCH Pounder is the fierce and angry proprietor; Jack Palance is the artist who paints lights in the sky and who may have found his muse. Everyone else living there is equally eccentric.

I think the moral is: everyone has to be somewhere. When you find the place just right, magic happens. With love what was once undesirable becomes essential.

It's kind of a reverse The Petrified Forest (1936). In the old film young Gabrielle yearns to escape the desert truckstop and get to Paris. This time older Jasmin returns from Germany because her bliss is with the people she has found in America.

It becomes a musical cabaret in the end.

The cinematography is also quirky: the camera dwells on still scenes but cuts away quickly when something is happening. Once, during one of her rants, Pounder walks behind the camera and reenters the frame from the other side.

The song "Calling You" was written for this film. It sounds awfully familiar and although it has been covered many times I can't recall where else I've heard it. Maybe it is a radio standard?

Distributed by Island Pictures, that great source of 1980s independent film: The Whales of August (1987), Insignificance (1985), The Hit (1984), Choose Me (1984), Trouble in Mind (1985) and The Moderns (1988).

My thumbnails are from a region 1 DVD that seems to be out of print now. I see a restored Blu-ray is available as a region B import. It's not expensive.