FBF: BAGDAD CAFE

bagdad cafe_titleFlashback Friday has us asking: Why-oh-why don’t people make movies like this any more?! Say hello to 1987’s Bagdad Cafe (dir. Percy Adlon; writers Eleonore Adlon, Percy Adlon & Christopher Doherty).

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CCH Pounder as Brenda and Marianne Sägebrecht as Jasmin in “Bagdad Cafe” (1987)

Original, quirky, unexpected, legit-interesting and wickedly funny with a solid story backbone. The antithesis of hack. Brilliantly cast. And it has a KILLER theme song: Jevetta Steele’s “Calling You.”  Without falling into stereotype, Bagdad Cafe takes angry black woman Brenda (the incomparable CCH Pounder) on a life-changing journey thanks to the lonely German tourist Jasmin (Marianne Sägebrecht), who sets out to transform her own life when she falls into Brenda’s dusty little cafe.

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Monica Calhoun as Phyllis in “Bagdad Cafe” (1987)

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Darron Flagg as Salamo in “Bagdad Cafe” (1987)

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G. Smokey Campbell as Sal in “Bagdad Cafe” (1987)

Also on this ride are  Brenda’s introverted musical prodigy son Salamo (real-life tenor Darron Flagg, who played the music in the film); her free-spirited, biker-loving daughter Phyllis (a budding Monica Calhoun); the family’s spiritually expansive, ex-Hollywood set decorator friend (Jack Palance!);  and Brenda’s estranged husband, Sal (G. Smokey Campbell) — who narrates from afar.

And all this kookiness works beautifully because Bagdad Cafe is an honest story about the kind of growth we hope for as human beings.

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Jack Palance as Rudi Cox in “Bagdad Cafe” (1987)

Is it surprising that this is a foreign film?

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