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Renaldo and Clara

Dylan cartoon Or:
When I Paint My Masterpiece, Part 3, The Influences

 by Chris Cooper

 

Last month we (well me actually) considered some of the influences that produced this great film. I said at the end there are more, and indeed, this will be true never fear. I have decided though to digress a little first. The more I look at the influences on this film the more I find myself referring to various scenes. Before I go on with the influences then I will test your endurance by giving you Part 1 of the film, broken into scenes. 

In may ways this was started by Patrick Webster in the long out-of-print booklet Red Rose & The Briar. Since this was written many more scenes have been thoroughly documented so I am able to expand on that booklet. I have used the same format for this work. What follows is the film up to the stated intermission, this is assuming that you are watching the full four hour version. There are a surprisingly similar number of scenes in each half, though the second half is notably longer than the first. In fact as the first part weights in at about 95 minutes and the second as a little more than 2 hours it can be seen very much as two movies. The first one dealing more with travel and touring. The second half with the political issues of Hurricane and public awareness. Of course both halves are linked by the saga of Renaldo and Clara, and the many members of their entourage, and their personal relationships. 

But hey, I said we’d do more on influences later. For your delight here is Part 1 of the scenes, you will find my comments developed in greater depth with the corresponding scene.

Till next time…
 


 

RENALDO AND CLARA

The Scenes

PART 1

 

Scene 1  When I Paint My Masterpiece  (filmed at Plymouth 31 Oct 1975)

The Opening title plays over the group performing the song. Dylan is wearing a see thru plastic Nixon mask.  Neuwrith is wearing  sunglasses. 

The obvious question here for me is why exactly is this the first scene. This was the opening song of Dylan’s set so chronologically it is in the right place. However it is also making a statement in it’s title. Is Bob telling us that this is THE one?  He also is appearing at the start in a mask so we see him as someone else, and of course he will not be Bob Dylan in the film. However the mask he is wearing is see thru, which also suggests that if he is hiding the real self he is aware that he is not doing so very thoroughly. You have to remember that shooting had started prior to this, certainly some scenes in the film were done almost a week before, so the chronology is not adhered to in other ways. In a radio  interview Ginsberg has said that Dylan listed the scenes on cards and then arranged them into several difference sequences, after which he merged those versions after into one. Finally is there any significance to the fact that the whole screen is blue tinted with the exception of Bob’s guitar. 

Scene 2  Hotel Lobby Worcester, Massachusetts Nov 19th 1975 

Barry Imhoff and Larry Sloman are arguing in a hotel lobby. Sloman is complaining that he cannot get access to people. In the background are Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Roger McGuinn, watching the scene. At one point Sloman asks Roger “you’re my friend, right? But I haven’t been able to speak to you for days”. As Joni did not join the tour till the start of December this scene is clearly not in chronological order. 

Scene 3 

David Blue, wearing sunglasses, is playing a pinball machine (Big Valley) next to a swimming pool, probably in a hotel.  He talks about the Gaslight, “passing the basket” at impromptu performances. Of reading poetry he mentions reading “Bibleland” and that the author would get dramatic and moody “to raise the interest and make more money” He also talks about becoming an actor. He then talks about Beat Poets and how he met Dylan.  At which point the scene cuts to: 

Scene 4  Gas Station, Augustus Nov 27th, 1975 

Dylan is in a workshop playing guitar. There’s a close up of his hands, with a lot of dirt under his fingernails.(does this mean he can’t lie?)  He seems to be kissing Helena Kallianiotes.  A Mechanic (Sam Shepard) enters “Any man that’s trading a T Bird for a cheap bike must be in a hurry. What’s the matter, are you running from the law?” Dylan answers “ I am the law”.

Scene 5  (Oct 23, 1975  Gerdes) 

Bob Neuwrith is onstage at Gerdes wearing a loan ranger mask and calling himself “The Masked Tortilla” He’s reading the poetry of a black man in the crowd called Tony Curtis. As he finishes Phil Ochs takes the stage and asks to borrow Neuwriths guitar and hat. David Mansfield is with him. 

Scene 6  October 25th or 26th  1975 

This scene begins with a  close up of a similar hat, this time sitting on a coffee table in the office of Walter Yetnikoff, where Dylan is discussing the planned  release of Hurricane. Walter is trying to explain to Dylan that they need exposure for the single, and is suggesting they try to get it played on radio. Presumably talking about Hurricane, and certainly as mentioned elsewhere one of the reasons for the tour to take place. 

Scene 7  Toronto Dec 1st, 1975 

Helena Kallioniotes is chasing Dylan up a flight of stairs, he opens a door at the top and is backstage, talking with Scarlet Rivera. As they run up the staircase, possibly a fire escape  you see a lorry outside with an Indian logo on the side. IN the background we can here Kaw-Liga playing, which of course is also about an Indian brave. 

Scene 8  Early November 

We cut to a Lorry driving in bad weather. There is an Indian logo on the door we hear a DJ is announcing the Rolling Thunder Revue will be playing providence Rhode Island. This places this scene before November 4th

Scene 9  Toronto Dec 1st, 1975 

Sara Dylan and Helena Kallioniotes sitting in a diner and  talking about traveling. There is a  red flower in front of all of them, A truck driver (Jack Baran) offers one of them a lift. When quizzed if he can be trusted he asks “don’t I have an honest face?” The truck driver offers to take Helena to Vermont her previously announced destination. Sara asks the driver if he also  going to Arizona. He tells her no, but suggests she asks another trucker. This is slightly at odds as at the start of the scene Helena is stating that Sara already has a lift, and that it is only she who requires one. As she gets up to leave with Baran she takes the red flower with her. 

Scene 10  ISIS (Montreal Dec 4, 1975) 

The first line we hear Dylan sing is “We set out that night for the cold in the North” Followed shortly of course by the line “We’ll be back by the 4th” doubly significant: In a previous scene Dylan was advertised as soon to be appearing in Providence on November 4th! Add to that the fact that this recording was made in Montreal (a town in the north) on December 4th.

Dylan and Guam perform this authorative version. Dylan’s face is covered in white greasepaint. He is rolling his eyes and waving his hands as he sings, Bob Neuwrith at one point moves to bite his hand (the hand that feeds them?). The red flower is now in Dylan’s hat, as well as one in Scarlet Rivera’s. 

Scene 11  Toronto Dec 1st, 1975 

After the song we cut back to the diner. Sara is at a table with the red flower she gets up to leave and as she does she ALSO takes the flower with her.

Scene 12  A Hotel, Toronto  Dec 1st, 1975 

Shelia Shotton (A tv reporter) is in a lobby wearing a dress with red flowers in the fabric.  She grabs Sloman as he enters and asks if he is Dylan. He tells her she will know Dylan as he is wearing a hat. Ronnie Hawkins arrives with a hat on, she assumes this is Dylan. Though Sloman does actually tell her it isn’t Bob. Ronnie however says that he is Bob Dylan.  Shelia  asks him “Who is the true, real Bob Dylan?” Hawkins replies “A hero of the highest order !” Shelia “Why do you say that about yourself?”

OK question time again.  Is this scene totally planned? If it is then we have some excellent improvised acting here.  Again Ginsberg has stated that the actors were simply handed crib-sheets, a rough outline of what a scene would be about  was given to the actors who then improvised around that.  So here we may have a key scene. Did Shelia Shotton go along with this as an act? I doubt that very much, she was a well established TV presenter in the 70’s and 80’s and was not a part of the cast for this film. So, maybe Dylan planned it this way, to show us how Ronnie “became” Dylan for the movie.  In that case Dylan must have had the film well planned in advance. I personally think that spontaneity is what this film is about. Maybe this scene went down for real, after which Dylan developed the Ronnie Hawkins is Dylan idea. Again it’s only guess work, but the scene is so graphically instant that it is hard to imagine it being that methodically planned. (If anyone knows where Shelia Shotton is now, ask her for me will you?) 

Scene 13  A Hotel, Toronto  Dec 2nd, 1975 

Ronnie Hawkins who has a red “berries pattern” stitched to the front of his hat,  is trying to get Ruth Tyrangiel to go on the road with him, She’s dressed in white, and appears very virginal. She is unsure what to say she asks Ronnie to stay on the farm  but he tells her “Rock n roll is the answer baby”  When she says she wants to die in God’s country Ronnie tells her “God owns it all”. Finally she says she needs her fathers approval to which Ronnie quips”I never had a daddy agree with me in my life”. (in the background we  can hear Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata)   Now, if Ronnie is now in character, that is, is now Bob Dylan. Here we have him acting out a scene that may well have happened for real. Ruth is certainly on record as saying she was the real  Dylan’s girlfriend (See her biog in the previous Fw) so here we have a classic example of Dylan revealing the real man behind the mask, though he still cannot resist cleverly hiding his own tracks. Hawkins ends the scene telling Ruth that “God wouldn’t put what’s in my mind now” Then cuts to:

Scene 14 

A preachers is sermonizing in the street he says “The whole world is seeking love” which of course connects with the previous scene. He tells us that marriages go wrong! He also states that he “speaks for God” and that it is an honour to speak for God.  

Scene 16  A Delicatesen 

A man who appears to be Larry Sloman is talking with some friends and the diners owner. One one of them asks “What do you think God’s work is?” The owner starts to say “Maybe Dylan.” But is cut off by other chatter. The guy mentions different breeds of people and rounds it off with “whatever you’re doing, it’s part of God’s work, the way in which you do it sheds light.” 

Scene 17  Toronto Dec 1st, 1975 

Dylan is seen walking through the streets, in a parody of the Freewheelin’ Album cover,  whilst we hear Gordon Lightfoot sing Ballad In Plain D. Dylan seems to leave from a building with the address Ste Geneviec 5 above the door, there is also a red light there, Gordon reaches the line “beneath a bare lightbulb” Of course Ballad in Plain D  can we understand to be about the breakdown of one of Dylan’s relationships. 

Scene 18  Chant Auteuill, Quebec  Nov 29th  1975 

Dylan peers into a diner and then enters, He sits at a table, as he does so a woman made up to  look like Sara, but who is not Sara is seen in close up as she leaves, Dylan notices her also and is engaged in conversation by Andre Bernard Tremblay who talks about the relationship he has with his ex-wife. He explains to Dylan that they can remain friends, even though their relationship is over.  Ruth T is sitting behind him talking to another man. As she leaves she comes over and kisses “Renaldo” on the cheek. She says “everytime I look at you it seems like you are avoiding me.” 

Scene 19 

A man and Sara Dylan (Clara) are discussing Jack Daniels. You’re not going to have nothing to drink either. Sara tells him he can take it, but he’s not going to have anything to drink, and he’s not going to have her either. 

Scene 20  Chant Auteuill, Quebec  Nov 29th  1975 

Ruth T and Dylan are back at the Diner, Ruth is exclaiming “There’s no where to go, just stand and bear yourself  like the cross, and I’ll just receive you. “ Is this a phallic or a religious statement? Is Dylan about to reveal himself too us? 

Scene 21  (Lowell Nov 2nd, 1975) 

Scene starts with a cross whilst Ronnie Hawkins sings about a Black Girl. In The Pines.

Scene 22 

David Blue’s playing pinball machine (again) (A Black Pussycat) and talking about Dylan and Gil Turner and the debut of Blowin’ In The Wind. 

Scene 23  Seacrest Motel, Falmouth  Oct 29th 1975 

A group of middle aged Jewish ladies are watching a belly dancer who seems to be part of their group. 

Scene 24 

Ronnie Hawkins is acting a scene with Mick  Ronson. Ronnie is  trying to get into a venue, Mick is a bouncer and refusing to let him in.  Ronnie “God won’t hold me back” Mick “Off you pop”.

Scene 25  Seacrest Motel, Falmouth  Oct 29th 1975 

Back with those Jewish ladies, the belly dancer ends and the cabaret singer (Barry Gibb, not  a Bee Gee) is singing “Cabaret”. 

Scene 26 

The same preacher as before is talking, a second speaker joins him on the top of his van as they chant  “We haveJesus”. Standing  by a plaque to George Washington a man heckles the preacher when he says the preacher is lying the preacher gets off the van with the words “By George” as the man gets pushed against it. He shouts at him “he’s not fit to go to hell” after which he climbs back on the van up there he again starts sermonizing  “whatever you say to a man of God you say directly to God.” 

Scene 27  A Hard Rains A-Gonna-Fall (filmed at Montreal December 4th  1975) 

Dylan on stage, again with a red flower in his hat, and greasepaint on his face.  when he sings is he reffering to the previous scenes? The lies certainly fit the apparent disparity that we hear between the preacher(s) and the crowd. This is, of course a  fast and very dynamic version of this tour staple. We also see Shepard and Elliott both watching the performance from the wings. 

Scene 28  Dreamaway Lounge. Springfield  Nov 7th 1975 

People in a bar talking, one says that he has seen Dylan once before in 1966 with the band in Philadelphia. Sloman says he once “got a great suit from an old jewish guy for  ten dollars there”. Not deterred than man embarks on a very Dylanesque ramble. At the end of the monologue he says the girl is wearing a sweater with  the word “Greeniol” on it which means clown. Sloman said he thought it meant “speaks truth” to which the other guy says, “well if you follow Bob long enough you can maybe translate these things. 

Scene 29  Probably Toronto, Dec 1st, 1975 

Sara buys  a cup of coffee at a Railway Station newsstand, she has a copy of Playgirl under her arm. . As she walks away she passes Dylan who’s standing in a corner. For a short time they look at each other, then she walks away. 

Scene 30  October 29, 1975 Seacrest Motel, North Dakota 

Ginsbergs reading poetry. The compere who  has introduced Ginsberg as “a very interesting and clever personality”  sings a dire version of WILKOMMEN with the line “everythings coming up roses”.

Scene 31 

David Blue is talking again , this time about Ginsberg. And about how he learned to talk hip in the Village. “I wanted to be a beatnik, man, I read it in Life magazine.” He ends with “Life is just a cookie” and we cut to:

Scene 32  Nov 16, 1975 Tuscora Indian Reservation 

Dylan and the revue are fed by Mad Bear and Rolling Thunder at the Community center on the reservation. Mad Bear tells the group to keep the children quiet. 

Scene 33  October 23, 1975 Gerdes Folk City 

Ginsberg is on the small stage singing “Songs Of Innocence” “Now let us play for it is yet day” the wallpaper behind him has red flowers on it. 

Scene 34  On a Train Going to Montreal Dec 3rd, 1975 

Bob Neuwrith is walking thru a train, he stops the conductor (Howard Alk), who is sitting with the passengers and asks him when the train will stop, saying he has been on the train six days. The conductor points out they have only been traveling an hour or two. And that they are going to “Possibly the largest city in the East”  Neuwrith says he is on his way to a wedding. 

Scene 35  October 23, 1975 Gerdes Folk City or Pilgrims Party Oct 31, 1975 Plymouth 

Back at Gerdes “The Masked Tortilla”(Neuwrith) is with a group of people in period costume, he is talking with Steve Goodman who tells Neuwrith that he also writes poems. Neuwrith quips “you write faster than you shoot?” Goodman retorts, I don’t aim to be fast. I just aim to be accurate”  The Masked Tortilla is talking to some Indians and invites a female to take his scalp and hang it on her friends belt. When her friend turns out to be her son Neuwrith tells them “I have just put both my feet in my hideous mouth”.

Scene 36  Nov 16, 1975 Tuscora Indian Reservation 

Back at the Indian party Chief Mad Bear is telling us the history of the Tuscarora Indians. He tells of the three books he is preparing. We see food being ready for the guests, at this point Joan Baez (with a red flower on her coat) is standing next to Mad Bear. Joni Mitchell is kneeling in the foreground.  Finally Dylan arrives, they are greeted warmly  by the Indians, while in the background we hear Dylan singing “People  Get Ready”  . Dylan walks along the group like a politician, at one point he stoops to kiss and elderly Indian lady. You see how some of the crowd are clearly impressed to meet Bob whilst many seem quite indifferent. As the song playing get to  the line “diesels a humming” we cut to: 

Scene 37 

A view of the lorries on the road. 

Scene 38 

Cut to Neuwrith  asleep in a coach, on a train. With Helena Kallianotes sitting nearby 

Scene 39 

Backstage the instruments and equipment are being unloaded and set up on the stage of a large concert hall. A roadie is playing a Chopin waltz on the piano. The backdrop for the stage has a large red flower on it. If you want to follow this to the nth degree the seats are red also! 

Scene 40 

Ronee Blakley and Steve Soles in a dressing room, Steve is putting on his make up. One of the film crew asks him about his secrets, to which he responds;”I have many secrets you know, I’m a scorpio, we don’t tend to reveal that much.” 

Scene 41 

Dylan is driving a camper van. Jack Elliott is sitting next to him. Dylan says “yes, we are going to see the gypsy”. In the background you hear Dylan singing I WANT YOU. Starting with the line “the gypsy undertaker” they over a car transporter with a  Red Van on the back. The leaves on a lot of trees are red, for some time they seem to be following a cyclist with a red T shirt on. 

Elliott says “I’m about ready for some answers” to which Bob replies “she doesn’t have answers, she has a rooming, a sporting house”   They don’t appear to arrive, instead we cut to:

Scene 42 

Several coaches driving to a Motel, they stop and the group disembarks.

Scene 43  A Hotel Bathroom 

In a hotel room Ronee is putting on her makeup while Steve Soles is trying to get her to hurry up, Ronee is wearing a red hat. When she asks Steve why he is getting uptight  it turns out that he is jealous. Saying that her new lover “doesn’t give  a  shit” she attacks him in a rage shouting “you have not fucked me in three years.” To which Steve delivers the classic statement “I don’t know whats so fucking important about fucking!”.

Scene 44  One of the Concerts 

Ronee on stage singing A NEW SUN RISING very passionately. There are flashes of red colour by the side of her head at two points in the song. I have always wondered if this was a deliberate thing, or a fault in the processing, or maybe just a problem with Channel Fours copy??? (You see how silly this can all get?).

Scene 45 

A Card the King Of Hearts is used as advertising on a restaurant wall next to a red book. A view of the kitchen as we hear Elloitt sing SALT PORK, WEST VIRGINIA with the line “I picked up the Ace I had won her. “ There is further correlation , as the camera eneters the bar area where the  people are we here Elliott sing “ he opened the door to the kitchen, you won her Goddam it” when the woman says”the last time I saw you, you looked a little tired” he replies “well I’d just got married”.

Scene 46  Dreamaway Lounge, Springfield Nov 7, 1975 

Mama Maria Frasca is singing to Joan MAMAS LAMENT whilst Rob Stoner plays mandolin. Mama has a red rose in her hair, Joan leans back and listens attentively. 

Scene 47  Quebec Nov 28th, 1975 

Baez  and Sara , both dressed like prostitutes are talking while Joan is filing her fingernails. Joan is talking with a heavy Mexican accent and wearing a red dressing gown with a red flower in her hair. She talks about finding something real. Sara asks if she means getting married. 

Scene 48  Dreamaway Lounge, Springfield Nov 7, 1975 

Mama is now singing GOD AND MAMA to Joan. Someone (? Elliott)is stroking a dog there is a red dish on the table and red ornament in Mama’s hair. 

Scene 49  Dreamaway Lounge, Springfield Nov 7, 1975 

Ronee Blakely is talking to an embarrassed Dylan  in a bar “I like tough, nice men. Strong men who are also very sweet,” Dylan “Yeah?” Ronee “with a  broad smile, “Yeah, I’ll take you.” 

Scene 50  Dreamaway Lounge, Springfield Nov 7, 1975 

Arlo Guthrie is now playing the mandolin. When Mama sings the line “pray Jesus” the scene cuts to Joan Baez in a bedroom with a picture of Jesus on the wall.  Joan is once again dressed in her stage gear and is looking at the wedding dress which is lying on the bed. She picks it up and holds it against herself. She then rejoins Mama waering the dress who leads her to the back of the restaurant and in front of a upright piano.

Scene 51  Lowell, Massachusetts  Nov 3rd, 1975 

Views of the cemetery in Lowell. Massachusetts.

Scene 52  Quebec Nov 28th, 1975 

At the bordello, David Mansfield, dressed as a cherub, is playing violin. The three whores, Joan Baez, Denise Mercedes and Linda Thomases, are standing around him smiling. When he stops playing and leaves the room he looks into the camera with an embarrassed smile. He is followed by Linda Thomases.

Scene 53  Seacrest Motel, Falmouth  Oct 29th 1975 

Jack Elliott is on stage singing  SALT PORK, WEST VIRGINIA 

Scene 54  Falmouth 28th or 29th October, 1975 

At the Cafeteria Dominic Paulo is talking to Larry Sloman Paulo;” I got a famous saying in life, that if the world was like music, the world would be beautiful, because music is beautiful.” 

Scene 55  Seacrest Motel, Falmouth  Oct 29th 1975 

Jack Elliott, this time alone on stage is singing MULESKINNER BLUES./ He has a red heart painted on his cheek.  

Scene 56  Vermont 

At the seaside Dylan, Ginsberg and others are questioned by a woman about their way of traveling. Ginsberg offers to teach her to meditate , when she accepts this offer they all start dancing anound singing “yeah yeah yeah, go go  baby, cha cha cha do wha diddy diddy” Dylan is holding a trumpet. 

Scene 57 

David Blue is again playing pinball, but this time says nothing. 

Scene 58

Dylan riding on a bus,  we see the two preachers back on top of their micro bus from scene 14 he sees a man on the street, gets off the bus and starts chasing him. In the background Dylan is singing WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN JESUS COMES.

Scene 59 Toronto Streets December 1st, 1975 

Whilst Dylan walks up and down the streets we hear Anne Waldman recite her poem FAST TALKING WOMAN.

Scene 60  Champlin Area of Montreal, December 4th or 5th 1975 

Dylan catches up with the man (Harry Dean Stanton) and gives him a note. The man denies he’s the man Dylan is looking for saying, “Not pour moi, monsieur, c’est pas pour moi, c’est ette une mistake.” But he takes the note and disappears through some revolving doors. Dylan waits outside the warehouse for him but doesn’t notice him leaving , now minus his raincoat.  Dylan continues to look lost and wanders about. As the poem reaches the line with the words Rolling Thunder, Dylan hold out his hand to a passer by like a beggar. 

Scene 61  Falmouth 28th or 29th October, 1975 

Back in the Cafeteria Sloman is again talking with Dominic Paulo. Paulo says she said “she waited an hour” Sloman “you couldn’t hold her?” Paulo “I couldn’t hold her, she says, ‘well tell him I love him anyway’”.

Scene 62  IT AIN’T ME BABE (filmed at Cambridge Nov 20th 1975) 

Dylan again has the red flower in his hat. There are shots of the audience superimposed upside down over the band. This is an almost leisurely, country version of the song. Dylan appears to be denying the lover that Paulo was talking about in the previous scene. We cut to a view of Ronee who early has said she would “take him” as Dylan sings “No No No”. Interestingly as Ronson takes the end solo we see scenes of the crowd upside down superimposed over the concert footage. 

Scene 63  Probably Emmett Grogans House, Montreal Dec 6th 1975 

In front of  a large building we see a woman  rising in a horse-drawn carriage. She’s dressed in white and holds a carnation. It sure looks like Sara.

----INTERMISSION----

 
 
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