Low Burlesque And Bob Dylan: Rocky And Bullwinkle

By Larry Fyffe
Singer/songwriter Bob Dylan comments on the movie ‘The Gunfighter’ in one of his songs:
Well, there was a movie I seen one time
About a man riding ‘cross the desert, and it starred Gregory Peck
He was shot down by a hungry kid trying to make  name for himself
(Bob Dylan: Brownsville Girl)
Here’s the introduction to another western movie starring Gregory Peck:
Pearl, who was herself a wildflower
Sprung from the hard clay
Quick to blossom
And early to die
(Orson Welles: Duel In The Sun)
Referenced above is the following poem:
Oh, come with old Khayaam, and leave the wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that life flies
One thing is certain, and the rest is lies
The flower that once has blown for ever dies
(Edward FitzGerald: The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyam)

In the movie ‘Duel In The Sun’, Pearl (Jennifer Jones), a half-Mexican/half-native American, dresses like a gypsy. Orphaned, she’s sent to live with a relative who has two sons: gentleman Jesse (Joseph Cotton), and lying ladies’ man Lewton (Gregory Peck). She falls for Lewt’s lust rather than Jesse’s love. Lewt kills the man she plans to marry, but refuses to take Pearl when he runs. Lewt wounds brother Jesse, and Pearl, amed with a rifle, goes after the gunslinger. They shoot it out on a mountain, and die in one another’s arms.

An episode of ‘Rocky And Bullwinkle’ centers not on a pearl, but instead on a ruby. The moose finds a toy boat christened ‘Omar Khayyam’ that has rubies on it, and the flying squirrel says, “this must be the Ruby yacht of Omar Khayyam”; the comical cartoon ends with the line, “join us next time for let’s drink to the Ruby, or stoned again.”

From Edward Fitzgerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat, there’s the line:
A book of verse underneath the bough

A jug of wine, a loaf of bread, and thou

(Omar Khayyam)

And from a Bob Dylan song:

Well, they’ll stone you, and say that it’s the end
They’ll stone you, then they’ll come back again

(Rainy Day Women, No. 12&35)

It’s a mixed potion that Bob Dylan cannot resist:

‘How far are y’all going,’ Ruby asked us with a sigh
“We’re going all the way ’til the wheels fall off and burn
‘Til the sun peels the paint, and the seat covers fade,
and the water moccasin dies”

Ruby just smiled and said, ‘Ah, you know some babies never learn’

(Bob Dylan: Brownsville Girl)
The song speaks about waiting to see another movie:
Well, I’m standin’ in line in the rain to see a movie starring Gregory Peck
Yeah, but you know it’s not the one I had in mind
He’s got a new one out now, I don’t even know what it’s about
But I’ll see him in anything so I’ll stand in line

(Bob Dylan: Brownsville Girl)

Then it’s back thinking about ‘The Gunfighter’ and Pearl, the dark-eyed gypsy in ‘Duel In The Sun’:

Brownsville Girl with your Brownsville curls
Teeth like pearls shining like the moon above
Brownsville girl show me all around the world
Brownsville girl, you’re my honey love

(Bob Dylan: Brownsville Girl)

“Around the world” is sexual slang; don’t ask where the gunslinger’s trigger finger has been:
Been dark all night, but now it’s dawn
The moving finger is moving on

(Bob Dylan: Narrow Way)

Dylan ties a naughty knot in a line underneath the bow of the Ruby yacht:
The moving finger writes, and, having writ
Moves on; nor all your piety nor your wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a line
(Edward FitzGerald: The Rubaiyat Of Omar Khayyan)

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