I’m sorry to offend the p.c. bashees, but Retardo and Clarabelle was what my hip Connecticut friends were calling Renaldo and Clara, a 232-minute free-form doc about Dylanworld in the mid ’70s, around the time of the Rolling Thunder tour. I forget where I saw it in ’78 but it was probably at the Quad, Thalia, Collective for Living Cinema, MOMA or Howard Otway‘s Theatre 80…one of those. Manhattan was quite the hotbed for fringe-y arthouse cinema back then.
If R & C was available for streaming from one of the usual suspects I would probably rent it, if only to absorb that mid ’70s vibe and pick up little floating bubbles of long-gone atmosphere. Yes, I’m aware that there’s a spotty way to see it via YouTube.
From ’79 through ’80 I was actually the managing editor of a TV Guide-sized monthly about the Manhattan repertory offerings — The Thousand Eyes Cinema Guide. It was a pet project of the late Sid Geffen, who at the time was running the Carnegie Hall and Bleecker Street rep houses.
My one and only face-time moment with Dylan happened at a 2003 Sundance Film Festival after-party for Larry Charles‘ Masked and Anonymous, a stinker that was partially redeemed by some fairly good songs delivered with first-rate sound and mixing.
I was actually part of a four-way between Dylan, myself, Indiewire‘s Anne Thompson and former Chicago Tribune guy Mark Caro. My only straight questions were (a) “how big is your home TV”, (b) “do you have any kind of DVD library” and (c) “how fast is your wifi at home?” Dylan waved these away, of course, but I was asking about the level of passion or devotion he felt for cinema.
At one point Dylan asked what the response was to Masked and Anonymous, and we all coughed and stammered and looked at the floor.