Country Blues => Weenie Campbell Main Forum => Topic started by: crookedtune on September 18, 2005, 02:01:53 PM

Title: Robert Johnson movie?
Post by: crookedtune on September 18, 2005, 02:01:53 PM
I just finished reading Bob Dylan's excellent autobiography, "Chronicles - Part 1".  He goes on at length about his influences, including many country blues artists.

He mentions having recently viewed what is believed to be an authentic 8mm home movie of Robert Johnson shot by a German tourist in Ruleville, Mississippi, in the late 1930s.  He says it's only about 8 seconds long, but when slowed down it is unmistakably Johnson.  "Has to be -- couldn't be anyone else", he says.  (It's on page 287 of the book).

This is the first I've heard of a movie, and I find it hard to believe, but Dylan seems convinced.  I couldn't find any mention of this on the web.  Anyone know about it?
Title: Re: Robert Johnson movie?
Post by: Cambio on September 18, 2005, 02:16:15 PM
I've never heard of a possible film of Robert Johnson that was shot by a German tourist, but about seven or eight years ago a film was discovered in the basement of a Memphis theatre of an African American guitarsist, with harmonica rack, playing in the late 30's, in front of the theatre where the film was found.  There was a lot of hullabaloo that it was a film of Robert Johnson and people started bidding exorbitant amounts of money for the film. 
They had a few of his contemporaries look at the film and they didn't think it was him.  Eventually someone took notice of the movie posters behind the musician and did some research into when those films were playing at the theatre.  It was established that the films were shown at the theatre a couple of years after Johnson had died and it was therefore impossible that the man in the film was Johnson. 
After continued speculation Robert Jr. Lockwood concluded, "I don't care how many times you look at it,  it still ain't Robert!"
Title: Re: Robert Johnson movie?
Post by: Prof Scratchy on September 18, 2005, 02:20:09 PM
There was talk and excitement about such a silent movie clip a couple of years ago. On examination the street musician was pictured with a 1940-ish movie poster in the background of the shot, and the film clip was discredited as depicting RJ. Would be interesting to see it anyway, and to research who the musician was.
Prof S
PS: here's an article http://www.blues.co.nz/news/article.php?id=22
 and another http://www.deltahaze.com/johnson/Legacy.html
Title: Re: Robert Johnson movie?
Post by: crookedtune on September 18, 2005, 02:48:09 PM
Well, that must be what Dylan was referring to, because he did mention the harmonica and rack.  His book is pretty new, so I'm surprised he didn't know that the movie proved not to be of Johnson.  Thanks for the feedback!
Title: Re: Robert Johnson movie?
Post by: Bunker Hill on September 18, 2005, 11:30:11 PM
FWIW this RJ movie was originally the subject of a cogent 'debunk' by Tom Freeland in Living Blues 142 (Nov/Dec 1998) in a feature entitled "Robert Johnson Not On Film".
Title: Re: Robert Johnson movie?
Post by: Cambio on September 19, 2005, 07:12:53 AM
The film is actually part of the documentary "Hellhounds on My Trail- The Afterlife of Robert Johnson", which was made when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  There are some discussions of his music as well as some performances of his material by folks like Robert Lockwood, Honeyboy Edwards, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Peter Green  .  You can order it from Amazon:
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