Monday, June 17, 2013

“Give her a little Rimbaud”

Tod says that Buz’s date expects hair tonic and muscles. So he gives Buz a tip:

“Be the intellectual. Change of pace. She’ll never see it coming. It’ll dazzle her. Tell her you’re an existentialist.”

“That’s a tip?”

“Well, that’s very stylish. She’ll love it.”

“Well, supposing she asks me what it is?”

“Tell her you don’t talk about; you live it. And give her a little Rimbaud.”
And Tod begins to recite:
“I know the lightning-opened skies, waterspouts,
Eddies and surfs; I know the night,
And dawn arisen like a colony of doves,
And sometimes I have seen what men have though
    they saw!

I’ve seen the low sun, fearful with mystic signs,
Lighting with far flung violet arms,
Like actors in an ancient tragedy,
The fluted waters shivering far away.

I’ve dreamed green nights of dazzling” —
And that’s as far as he gets. Because it’s time for a fistfight, with angry David Janssen.

This moment of poetry comes from the Route 66 episode “One Tiger to a Hill” (September 21, 1962). Tod is reciting from Louise Varèse’s translation of “Le Bateau ivre” [The drunken boat], which appears in the 1961 New Directions paperback A Season in Hell / The Drunken Boat.

The best touch: Tod pronounces Rimbaud as Rimbo (rhymes with limbo).

Related reading
All Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[In my house, it is the summer of Route 66.]

comments: 6

Adair said...

Where else on American tv will you get so much Rimbaud (or Rimbo)? Was this the greatest tv series ever, or what?

A funny story: years and years ago a German scholar was telling me about a new film called "Rimbaud." I was astonished. They're making a movie about Rimbaud? Wow! I couldn't believe it! This was amazing! The German looked at me strangely. It didn't seem like such a big deal to him. Why, he wondered, was I so excited? "Who," I asked,my heart thumping, "will play the part of Rimbaud?" "Sylvester Stallone," he said...

Michael Leddy said...

That’s hilarious, Adair.

In my mind, right now, this show’s only rivals are Naked City and The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd. It’s a travesty, I’d say, that none of these made the recent list of the 100 best-written shows.

Adair said...

Somehow I missed Molly Dodd. I was probably abroad. I agree about Naked City, though. I would only add The Mary Tyler Moore Show, especially the first couple of seasons. And maybe a lost series of the early 60's, sometimes called the Kraft Theater of Suspense, or other times packaged as CRISIS. It had some pretty daring episodes and good writing. Martin Milner was one of the guest stars!

Michael Leddy said...

It’s nice to finally see that there’s much more to Martin Milner than Adam-12 .

All five seasons of Molly Dodd were up at YouTube last year and have since been taken down. The costs of licensing music (there are many, many songs) are said to make a DVD release impractical. It saddens me to think that the show might remain unavailable for years to come.

Adair said...

Oops, I guess the Mary Tyler Moore Show was included in the 100 best. Well, I must agree with that one! As for Route 66, I wonder if, despite the dvd, it has faded from the memory of the majority of American viewers. In the late 60s, it was seen frequently in syndication, but ever since then, I doubt that it has had much visibility. There might be other factors working against it: the stories are rarely simple; they require a degree of attention and duration that make many contemporary viewers restive. Most heartbreakingly, the country that is portrayed in the series has all but vanished and might as well be a foreign land for younger viewers. The landscape, the cultural codes and roles, are so different!

Michael Leddy said...

MTM, yes, for sure. But I think Molly Dodd far surpasses it.

I don’t know what to think about the popularity of Route 66. The episodes are available to watch for $1.99 each at YouTube. The Times had an article about the show in May. I suppose that as with other great stuff of the past, individual viewers here and there will find their way to it and consider themselves fortunate. I hope that these Route 66 posts inspire somebody to watch.