Scott Warmuth

Masked and Anonymous source material
by Scott Warmuth
(more at his blog -

Scott Warmuth is a force of nature. With pretty much all of Dylan's recent output, Warmuth has been able to trace the sources of Dylan's inspiration, be it passages, themes and characters in Chronicles Vol I, to Modern Times, Love and Theft and Masked and Anonymous. He puts Dylan fans, and without question Dylan scholars, to shame with his thorough research and its exciting and to some, controversial, results. I hope someday soon he publishes all of his work on Dylan's 'resources' under one or two volumes of print as it shines a revealing light on Dylan's creative practice.  


In honor of Mickey Rourke's hilarious recent statement regarding Masked and Anonymous - "I had a little part in some arty farty movie we did" - I present some notes on source material used in the script.

On page 89 of the script of Masked and Anonymous Rourke's character Edmund has a long speech that includes, "Let me say we no longer have any cause to fear danger from abroad. Our strength and power is well known throughout the civilized world. It is from within amongst ourselves, from cupidity, corruption, disappointed ambition, and inordinate thirst for power that factions will be formed and liberty engendered. It is against such designs that we especially have to guard ourselves. Whatever disguises the actors may assume, we have the highest of human trust committed to our care."

Edmund's speech is based on Andrew Jackson's farewell address from March 4, 1837 which included, "You have no longer any cause to fear danger from abroad; your strength and power are well known throughout the civilized world, as well as the high and gallant bearing of your sons. It is from within, among yourselves - from cupidity, from corruption, from disappointed ambition and inordinate thirst for power - that factions will be formed and liberty endangered. It is against such designs, whatever disguise the actors may assume, that you have especially to guard yourselves. You have the highest of human trusts committed to your care."

On page 4 of the script, when Percy and Blunt confront Uncle Sweetheart, Sweetheart greets them by saying, "Oh, it's the dark princes, the democratic republicans, working for a barbarian who can scarcely spell his own name."

Sweetheart is quoting John Quincy Adams, who, regarding Andrew Jackson, wrote, "I could not be present to see my Darling Harvard disgrace herself by conferring a Doctor's degree upon a barbarian and savage who could scarcely spell his own name."

Perhaps Percy and Blunt are working for Edmund?

There are a number of other interesting lines from a variety of sources throughout the script of Masked and Anonymous; Ella the Fortune Teller quotes Naked Lunch, Tom Friend quotes a passage from an August Strindberg play, Crew Guy #1 has a passage taken from Jim Bouton's book Ball Four, the Animal Wrangler quotes a John Dos Passos poem, Uncle Sweetheart quotes a line from The Journal of Albion Moonlight by Kenneth Patchen, Bobby Cupid quotes a central line from the book Moon Palace by Paul Auster. I'll post the specifics if anybody is interested.

Here's one that my research turned up that I found particularly interesting, when Cheech Marin as Prospero tells Jack Fate, "You missed it, two eagles just killed a pregnant rabbit" he is referencing a omen that appears in Agamemnon by Aeschylus. In the story the two eagles in a seer's vision represent Agamemnon and Menelaus and the pregnant rabbit is Troy.

In the script the final line of the scene before Fate meets Prospero is Nina telling Uncle Sweetheart, "You're like a Trojan Horse pregnant with Greeks."

The below was sourced from:

I'd suggest a link to this series of notes on Masked and Anonymous source material right here on ER: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=34593.

I'd also suggest a link to my post "Bob Dylan, Jeff Bridges & The Monkey Girl" on my blog. It it I demonstrate how lines in the script are crafted out of material from a book of sideshow photography called In Search of the Monkey Girl, including elements from an essay by Spalding Gray: ... -girl.html

The film still has a lot to give. For instance, in Masked and Anonymous the character Bobby Cupid is based in part on Valentine Xavier from the Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending. Marlon Brando played the role in the film version, which is called The Fugitive Kind. Bobby Cupid = Valentine Xavier, the wordplay is clear. Bobby Cupid's snakeskin jacket is a visual clue, in that it is a key element in both the play and the Brando film.

In Masked and Anonymous Bobby Cupid gives Jack Fate a guitar that he says belonged to Blind Lemon. The provenance of the guitar has been a topic of discussion in a number of places, for instance Eric Lott calls it into question in a lecture called "When Bob Dylan Came Knocking" that he gave at Dickinson College. The lecture is available on iTunes U. You'll find that Lott seems unwilling to even grant that it is Blind Lemon Jefferson that they are talking about.

In the play Val's guitar is autographed by Lead Belly, Woody Guthrie, Bessie Smith and Jelly Roll Morton. In The Fugitive Kind Val says that the guitar was given to him by Lead Belly. Check out this clip from the film:

In Masked and Anonymous Bobby Cupid claims that he got the guitar from a guy who used to lead Blind Lemon around. If you check your Lead Belly history you discover that Lead Belly used to lead Blind Lemon Jefferson around. The chain of ownership, from Blind Lemon to Lead Belly to Val Xavier in disguise to Jack Fate, is right there. Xavier is also mentioned by name in a scene in the script that does not appear in the film.

In the film Ed Harris plays Oscar Vogel, the ghost of a blackface minstrel who was murdered for being politically outspoken. In the script there is a mention of Vogel's face being disfigured, but no mention of him being in blackface and that is something that had puzzled people who have studied the film.

I suggest that the reason that he is in blackface may have to do with Jeff Bridges. While watching the film with the commentary track by Larry Charles I noticed that in the Oscar Vogel section of the film he makes a passing mention of actor Larry Parks. Do a little research and you'll find that Parks played Al Jolson to great acclaim in both The Jolson Story from 1946 and Jolson Sings Again in 1949 - only to be blacklisted in the fifties after testifying before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Larry Parks was also Jeff Bridges' godfather. I'd wager that Larry Charles knew this connection, although he does not bring it up in the commentary. I think that it is likely that Jeff mentioned his godfather to either Dylan or Larry Charles while they were making the film and that led to Ed Harris appearing in blackface.

Larry Charles refers to the script as a treasure map in one of the bonus features on the DVD, and it is indeed full of treasure. I meticulously went through the script page by page, word by word. I considered it as sort of a dry run before doing the same with Chronicles: Volume One. I am particularly intrigued by the places where the same source material overlaps; from the film to recent albums to Chronicles: Volume One.

Here's one example, in the Masked and Anonymous script (but not the actual film) the Animal Wrangler's rant includes, "Two shivering bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio, inventing a contraption called the airplane. How insane."

He was quoting from the following passage from 1936 novel The Big Money by John Dos Passos, an book that is an early example of cut-up technique:

In the snorting impact of bombs and the… sudden stutter of machine-guns after the motor’s been shut off overhead,
and we flatten into the mud
and make ourselves small cowering in the corners of ruined walls,
the Wright brothers passed out of the headlines
but not even the headlines or the bitter smear of newsprint or the choke of smokescreen and gas or chatter of brokers on the stockmarket or barking of phantom millions or oratory of brasshats laying wreaths on new monuments
can blur the memory
of the chilly December day
two shivering bicycle mechanics from Dayton, Ohio,
first felt their homemade contraption
whittled out of hickory sticks,
gummed together with Arnstein’s bicycle cement,
stretched with muslin they’d sewn on their sister’s sewingmachine in their own backyard on Hawthorn Street in Dayton, Ohio,
soar into the air
above the dunes and the wide beach
at Kitty Hawk.

Dylan also uses elements from the Dos Passos book in his memoir. My dry run through the script helped make this more readily apparent.

Chronicles: Volume One, p. 82:
"Both Len and Tom wrote topical songs - songs where you'd pick articles out of newspapers, fractured demented stuff, some nun getting married, a high school teacher taking a flying leap off the Brooklyn Bridge, tourists who robbed a gas station, Broadway Beauty being beaten, left in the snow, things like that"

Some of the news stories that Dylan mentions there are cut-ups from newspaper headlines that Dos Passos incorporated into his book. They all appear as isolated lines, are in all caps, and are all at the beginning of chapters in The Big Money. They'll jump out at you if you happen to flip through the book.

The Big Money by John Dos Passos -
Page 202:

Page 302:

Page 303:

Other sources that have elements that show up in multiple Dylan works include Bethany Bultman's travel guide New Orleans, Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins and Edward K. Kaplan's Baudelaire translation The Parisian Prowler.

Also of interest may be this blog post where I wrote about what is the likely source for the title of the film; like "Love and Theft" it seems to be tied to a book on the minstrelsy: ... tch-3.html. Sean Wilentz seems to agree with me on this, in that he included it, as well as a number other things that we corresponded about, in Bob Dylan in America. Wilentz expressed "many, many thanks" in his emails to me, yet somehow this did not extend to his book, where he decided to characterize me in an insulting manner. Very poor form on his part.