1989 film by Jim Jarmusch. Three stories, all wrapped around a Memphis hotel, and all loosely connected. Probably the best Memphis movie ever, as it really captures everything about the city, both physical and otherwise. It portrays a non-Memphian view of Memphis better than any other movie before or after. And the hotel where everything is connected is manned by Screamin' Jay Hawkins as the desk clerk and Cinque Lee as the bellhop, who own the movie. The movie also has Tom Waits doing his radio DJ gimmick from Down By Law again, although we never really see him.

The first guests are a young Japanese couple, Jun and Mitsuko, played by Masatoshi Nagase and Youki Kudoh. He thinks the world of Carl Perkins and even oozes cooleness when he lights cigarettes. She loves Elvis, to the point of comparing other people to him in scrapbook format, and owns a ton of t-shirts. On their travels they get baffled by a Sun Studios tour guide, give matches to Rufus Thomas, compare Yokohama to Memphis, stay at the Arcade hotel, tip the bellhop with a Japanese plum that Screamin' Jay ends up eating, have sex, take some towels, hear a gunshot, and leave.

Then is the story of Luisa (Nicoletta Braschi), an Italian woman whose husband died abroad, and she gets stranded in Memphis for a day. After being suckered into buying a bunch of magazines she doesn't need, she goes to the Arcade restaurant to read and sit for a while, but runs into a con man who she gives more money to after he tells the story of meeting Elvis' ghost. She runs off to the Arcade hotel, and runs into Dee Dee (Elizabeth Bracco), a woman who doesn't have enough money to stay at the hotel. They end up sharing a room and after Dee Dee talks Luisa half to death they finally go to sleep. Before Luisa can get to sleep though she sees the ghost of Elvis, and she ends up awake all night. After they also hear the gunshot, she gives Dee Dee some money, and they go their seperate ways.

Final story involves Johnny (Joe Strummer), who happens to be Dee Dee's ex-boyfriend, although he has everybody thinking they're married. He's also English, and everybody calls him Elvis, which he can't stand. He also ends up losing his job, so he's drowning his sorrows with his friend Will Robinson (Rick Aviles) at a bar. He ends up playing with a gun which puts everybody in a foul mood, and sends Will off to get Dee Dee's brother Charlie (Steve Buscemi). They restrain him and go driving around, stopping at a liquor store. The clerk (Rockets Redglare) makes a racist comment towards Will as Charlie and Johnny are paying. So Johnny decides to pull the gun again. The clerk says something stupid and gets shot for it. So they eventually find sanctuary at the Arcade hotel, where the bellhop eggs Will on with a Lost in Space reference, and they have to negotiate their way into a room to hide out. So there they end up, drunk as hell and holed up in room 26 (AKA the kinky sex room). Along the way Charlie figures out the Lost in Space reference that he apparently missed over who-knows-how-many years of friendship. Johnny later admits to Charlie that he and Dee Dee were never married. In the morning, Johnny is suicidal, and Charlie tries to get the gun away from him. He gets accidentally shot in the leg for his troubles, to which Charlie has to say:

"You fuckin' shot me! I don't believe this! You're not even my brother-in-law and now you fuckin' shot me!"

So they flee the hotel, and they're on the run again.

The name of the movie was taken from the 1955 song performed by Elvis Presley, and written by Little Junior Parker and Sam Phillips.

Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Train I ride, sixteen coaches long
Well that long black train got my baby and gone

Train train, comin' 'round, 'round the bend
Train train, comin' 'round the bend
Well it took my baby, but it never will again
(no, not again)

Train train, comin' down, down the line
Train train, comin' down the line
Well it's bringin' my baby, 'cause she's mine all, all mine
(She's mine, all, all mine)

Mystery Train is also the name of a couple of used record stores in Massachusetts. There are three, as far as I know: one on Newbury Street in Boston; one in Gloucester, presumably the headquarters; and one in Amherst. At one point in time, there was also a store near Harvard Square; it has since disappeared into the annals of time.

The Boston and Amherst stores both have a fine collection of used CDs, records of all sizes, and often video and audio cassettes. The Amherst store does a great job of supporting local bands and will often host small shows. Plus, the people who work there are very nice and hip and will occasionally compliment you on your purchases.

I've never been to the Gloucester store, and I'm not entirely sure it's related to the other two. But it's the store with the website; if anyone knows, /msg me.

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