Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Baghdad Cafe

(Germany, 1987)

A nice little small movie that has a cult following. Jasmin, (Marianne Sägebrecht) a German woman traveling through the Mojave Desert, has an argument with her husband and she leaves him, or rather he leaves her, at the side of the road. She makes her way to the Baghdad Café, sitting out there all by itself on Route 66. Since Interstate 40 bypassed the place, hardly anybody ever shows up except by accident. It is run by Brenda (C.C.H. Pounder), a grouchy woman who eventually comes to like Jasmin and hires her to work at the restaurant and nearby rundown motel. Also living there is Rudi (Jack Palance), a retired Hollywood set-painter, and Debby (Christine Kaufmann), a tattoo artist. It is not heavy on plot, but that’s okay. I enjoyed spending an hour and a half with them.

Sägebrecht didn’t speak much English. I recall her doing a good job as the housekeeper in The War of the Roses. The movie was filmed in an establishment called the Sidewinder Café, which is actually fifty miles away from the ghost town of Baghdad, in Newberry Springs. That place is still operating, renamed the Baghdad Café, and is something of a tourist attraction for fans of cult movies. I also note on Google Maps that old Route 66 is now called the National Trails Highway. Why do they do that? Route 66 not historical enough for them? I’ll bet nobody ever writes a song about the National Trails Highway.