Bruce Springsteen, Movie Buff
August 18, 2013 3:12 PM   Subscribe

Next weekend, The Showroom, an arthouse movie theater in Asbury Park, New Jersey, presents Bruce Noir — a screening and discussion series on film noir and its influence on the life and music of Bruce Springsteen. The series will be hosted by crime novelist Wallace Stroby (Kings of Midnight), who once loaned Springsteen a DVD copy of Two-Lane Blacktop, and will include appearances by Springsteen biographer Peter Ames Carlin (Bruce) via Skype and Jersey Noir photographer Mark Krajnak. The films being screened are Gun Crazy, Badlands, Out of the Past, Atlantic City, and Thunder Road. (Not screening is Woody Allen's Stardust Memories. It's not a noir, but as the story goes, a fan spotted him alone at a screening of that film and eventually asked him to come home and have dinner with him and his mother. Springsteen agreed, making him not just a world-class rock-and-roller but also an A+ film buff in the eyes of many admirers.)
posted by Mothlight (9 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
I saw her standin on her front lawn
Just twirlin her baton
Me and her went for a ride sir
And ten innocent people died

From the town of Lincoln, Nebraska
With a sawed-off .410 on my lap
Through to the Badlands of Wyoming
I killed everything in my path

I can't say that I am sorry
For the things that we done
At least for a little while sir
Me and her we had us some fun

posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:35 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

So much paranoid desperation in those Nebraska songs. State Trooper is chilling, to say the least.

New Yersey Turnpike
ridin' on a wet night
'neath the refinery's glow,
out where the great black rivers flow
License, registration, I ain't got none,
but I got a clear conscience
'Bout the things that I done
Mister state trooper please don't stop me...

Maybe you got a kid
maybe you got a pretty wife,
the only thing that I got's
been botherin' me my whole life
Mister state trooper please don't stop me

posted by basicchannel at 3:42 PM on August 18, 2013

At the risk of being that guy, can Atlantic City really be billed as noir? (Admittedly it has been 20 years or so since I last watched it.)
posted by wensink at 4:48 PM on August 18, 2013

Hey Eddie, can you lend me a few bucks
And tonight can you get us a ride
Gotta make it through the tunnel
Got a meeting with a man on the other side

Hey Eddie, this guy, he's the real thing
So if you want to come along
You gotta promise you won't say anything
'Cause this guy don't dance
And the word's been passed this is our last chance

We gotta stay cool tonight, Eddie
'Cause man, we got ourselves out on that line
And if we blow this one
They ain't gonna be looking for just me this time

And all we gotta do is hold up our end
Here stuff this in your pocket
It'll look like you're carrying a friend
And remember, just don't smile
Change your shirt, 'cause tonight we got style

posted by dougzilla at 4:53 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

think I've quoted this before, but to my mind this is the perfect Springsteen Noir -

I slipped on her shoe, she was a perfect size seven
I said "there's no smokin' in the store ma'am"
She crossed her legs and then
We made some small talk, that's where it should have stopped
She slipped me a number, I put it in my pocket
My hand slipped up her skirt, everything slipped my mind
In that little roadhouse On highway 29

It was a small town bank, it was a mess
Well I had a gun, you know the rest
Money on the floorboards, shirt was covered in blood
And she was cryin', her and me we headed south
On highway 29

In a little desert motel, the air it was hot and clean
l slept the sleep of the dead, I didn't dream
I woke in the morning washed my face in the sink
We headed into the Sierra Madres 'cross the borderline
The winter sun, shot through the black trees
I told myself it was all something in her
But as we drove I knew it was something in me
Something had been comin' for a long long time
And something that was here with me now
On highway 29

The road was filled with broken glass and gasoline
She wasn't sayin' nothin'', it was just a dream
The wind come silent through the windshield
All I could see was snow and sky and pines
I closed my eyes and I was runnin',
I was runnin' then I was flyin'

posted by hap_hazard at 7:52 PM on August 18, 2013

State Trooper is chilling, to say the least.

The Blackeyed Susan's, a local band here in Melbourne, regularly perform a version of State Trooper that sounds like a cross between Springsteen and Nick Cave. It's horrifyingly good and entirely ear shattering.
posted by deadwax at 8:40 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

can Atlantic City really be billed as noir?

Well, from a formal standpoint, almost anything made after the late 50s can't be pure film noir. Yet it's also nothing like most of the films billed as neo-noir (whose modern incarnation kicked off in '81 with Thief and Body Heat). I think it's safe to say that it belongs in this discussion, though, as many of the classic noir elements are there even if Malle's ultimare purpose was something different. Plus Jersey.
posted by dhartung at 12:48 AM on August 19, 2013

...a fan spotted him alone at a screening of that film and eventually asked him to come home and have dinner with him and his mother. Springsteen agreed, making him not just a world-class rock-and-roller but also an A+ film buff in the eyes of many admirers.

Maybe I'm missing an aspect of this, but what does this have to do with being a film buff of any grade? To me, that just seems like being a humble celebrity who's not too self-important to hang out with a fan. He's just this guy, you know?
posted by knile at 12:59 AM on August 19, 2013

o me, that just seems like being a humble celebrity who's not too self-important to hang out with a fan. He's just this guy, you know?

That story is given here, from Dave Marsh's biography Glory Days: The Bruce Springsteen Story:
"Usually . . . you can do anything you want to do," he said, speaking hesitantly at first, as if testing to see if the idea would play, then with increasingly passionate conviction. "The idea that you can't walk down the street is in people's minds. You can walk down any street, any time. What you gonna be afraid of, someone coming up to you? In general, it's not that different than it ever was, except you meet people you ordinarily might not meet—you meet some strangers and you talk to 'em for a little while.

"The other night I went out, I went driving—we were in Denver. Got a car and went out, drove all around. Went to the movies by myself, walked in, got my popcorn. This guy comes up to me, real nice guy. He says, 'Listen, you want to sit with me and my sister?' I said, 'All right.' So we watch the movie." He paused and laughed. "It was great, too, because it was that Woody Allen movie [Stardust Memories]—the guy's slammin' it to his fans. And I'm sittin' there and this poor kid says, 'Jesus, I don't know what to say to ya. Is this the way it is;? Is this how you feel?' I said, 'No. I don't feel like that so much.' And he had the amazing courage to come up to me at the end of the movie and ask if I'd go home and meet his mother and his father. I said, What time is it?' It was eleven o'clock, so I said 'Well, okay.'

"So I go home with him; he lives out in some suburb. So we get over to the house and here's his mother and father, laying out on the couch, watching TV and reading the paper. He brings me in and he says, 'Hey, I got Bruce Springsteen here.' And they don't believe him. So he pulls me over and he says, 'This is Bruce Springsteen.' 'Aw, g'wan,' they say. So he runs in his room and brings out analbum and he holds it up to my face. And his mother says [breathlessly], 'Ohhh yeah!' She starts yelling, 'Yeah,' she starts screaming.

"And for two hours I was in this kid's house, talking with these people; they were really nice, they cooked me up all this food~watermelon and the guy gave me a ride home a few hours later.

"I felt so good that night. Because here are these strange people I didn't know; they take you in their house, treat you fantastic—and this kid was real nice, they were real nice. That is something that can happen to me that can't happen to most people. And when it does happen, it's fantastic. You get somebody's whole life in three hours. You get their parents, you get their sister, you get their familylife, in three hours. And I went back to that hotel and felt really good because I thought, 'Wow [now he was almost whispering], what a thing to be able to do. What an experience to be able to have, to be able to step into some stranger's life.'
On its own, the story doesn't especially reveal it, but he is legitimately a film buff. He loves film, always has, and the way it connects with this story is that when he was younger and was touring, he would often spend time alone away from everyone else on the tour by escaping to the movie theater.

He is a big reader now, but often says he didn't come to reading until he was an adult, and that movies were his books - and you really can see that in the cinematic songwriting which draws on lots of film approaches. He's talked about Westerns, Badlands which was about Charlie Starkweather, The Grapes of Wrath (movie not book)I tend to think the writing can fairly be called novelistic too, but it does privilege the visual and it wasn't usually directly inspired by writing (though maybe by older storytelling). Another quote from Marsh's book that more clearly reveals movie influence:
A song like 'Mansion on the Hill'—it's different to every body. It's in people's lives, in that sense. That's what I always want my songs to do: to kind of just pan out and be very cinematic. The Nebraska record had that cinematic quality, where you get in there and you get the feel of life just some of the grit and some of the beauty. I was thinking in a way of To Kill a Mockingbird, because in that movie there was a child's-eye view. And Night of the Hunter also had that—I'm not sure if surrealistic is the right word. But that was poetic when the little girl was running through the woods. I was thinking of scenes like that.
posted by Miko at 7:11 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]

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