In the mountaintop stronghold of a eastern-European fascist dictator in the 1940s -- so everything was in black and white, naturally -- a female journalist was talking to the dictator himself. He was bald and had a fencing scar down one cheek and wore a general's uniform and a monocle. In case this left any doubt as to his irredeemable villainy, his right hand had been replaced with a steel claw, with which he gesticulated while he told the journalist, who resembled Lauren Bacall, that she would use her radio programme to broadcast pro-dictator propaganda or else something terrible would happen. Either he didn't specify what it was that would be terrible or I have forgotten, for which I apologise.
The journalist went directly to the radio station and, shoving past the protesting staff, entered the studio, which was being used for a drama production that was being recorded in front of an audience. She took the microphone and spoke rousingly to the listeners, ending up by saying, "The war is nearly over! Forget about Mussolini! He's all washed up!"
The audience left the studio, slightly confused.
Notes for Freudian Analysis
Last night, before going to bed, I watched "Dark Passage", with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Bogart had busted out of San Quentin and Bacall was helping him evade the police because she's the kind of girl who has a thing about guys who've murdered their wives. It's a sick set-up, which the film does its best to normalise but which there is simply no getting away from.
A short documentary on the DVD mentioned Lauren Bacall's second film, "Confidential Agent", which was the only film she did in the 1940s in which she did not appear alongside Bogart. I've never seen it but, for some reason, I always get it mixed up with Hitchcock's "Foreign Correspondent", which ends with a stirring scene in which Joel McCrea's character uses his radio broadcast to try to get America to enter the war against Germany. It's bold propaganda, filmed just days before the Germans started to bomb London. I've found the script online, so I'll quote the end of his broadcast because its tone was exactly the same as the tone of the speech that the journalist in my dream madem, but which I have forgotten most of.
"I can't read the rest of the speech I had, because the lights have gone out, so I'll just have to talk off the cuff. All that noise you hear isn't static - it's death, coming to London. Yes, they're coming here now. You can hear the bombs falling on the streets and the homes. Don't tune me out, hang on a while - this is a big story, and you're part of it. It's too late to do anything here now except stand in the dark and let them come... as if the lights were all out everywhere, except in America. Keep those lights burning, cover them with steel, ring them with guns, build a canopy of battleships and bombing planes around them. Hello, America, hang on to your lights: they're the only lights left in the world!"
I attribute the pulp imagery in the dream to the fact that, when I got home from work yesterday, I finished reading Michael Chabon's "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay", which is about two Jewish guys in the 1940s, one of whom is a refugee from Czechoslovakia, who write and draw comics in which anti-fascist superheroes battle Nazi supervillains. After I finished the book, I flicked through a book I have on the history of comics. One of the strips that it included was "The Steel Claw", which is about a crime-fighting secret agent who could turn himself invisible apart from his prosthetic right hand, which, of course, was made of steel.
Mussolini appears in the journalist's broadcast because the playground song, "Mussolini's dead", which I have on a CD of songs sung by Scottish children that Alan Lomax recorded in the 1950s, was in my head all day yesterday, for some reason. It goes:
"Now the war is over, Mussolini's dead,
He wants to go to heaven with a crown upon his head.
The Lord says no, you'll have to stay below,
All dressed up, and nowhere to go."