Bagdad Cafe

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Bagdad Cafe
Bagdad cafe ver1.jpg
French-language film poster
Directed byPercy Adlon
Produced by
  • Eleonore Adlon
  • Percy Adlon
Written by
  • Eleonore Adlon
  • Percy Adlon
Music byBob Telson
CinematographyBernd Heinl
Edited byNorbert Herzner
  • Bayerischer Rundfunk
  • Hessischer Rundfunk
  • Pelemele Film
  • Pro-ject Filmproduktion
Distributed byIsland Pictures
Release date
  • 12 November 1987 (1987-11-12) (Europe)
  • 22 April 1988 (1988-04-22) (U.S.)
Running time
108 minutes (German)
95 minutes (U.S.)
CountryWest Germany
  • English
  • German

Bagdad Cafe (sometimes Bagdad Café, titled Out of Rosenheim in Germany) is a 1987 English-language West German film directed by Percy Adlon. It is a comedy-drama set in a remote truck stop and motel in the Mojave Desert in the U.S. state of California.[1] Loosely based on Carson McCullers' novella The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951), the film centers on two women who have recently separated from their husbands, and the blossoming friendship that ensues. It runs 95 minutes in the U.S. and 108 minutes in the German version.


German tourists Jasmin Münchgstettner (Sägebrecht) from Rosenheim and her husband fight while driving across the desert. She storms out of the car and makes her way to the isolated truck stop, which is run by the tough-as-nails and short-tempered Brenda (Pounder), whose own husband, after an argument out front, is soon to leave as well. Jasmin takes a room at the adjacent motel. Initially suspicious of the foreigner, Brenda eventually befriends Jasmin and allows her to work at the cafe.

The cafe is visited by an assortment of colorful characters, including a strange ex-Hollywood set-painter (Palance) and a glamorous tattoo artist (Kaufmann). Brenda's son (Darron Flagg) plays J. S. Bach preludes on the piano. With an ability to quietly empathize with everyone she meets at the cafe, helped by a passion for cleaning and performing magic tricks, Jasmin gradually transforms the cafe and all the people in it.



The film had positive reviews.[2][3][4] It holds an 89% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews, with a weighted average of 6.79/10.[5]

The film was successful at the box office, with a U.S. gross of $3.59 million.[6][7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 1988: won Best Foreign Language Film at the 23rd Guldbagge Awards[8]
  • 1988: won Bavarian Film Award Best Screenplay (Eleonore & Percy Adlon)
  • 1988: won Ernst Lubitsch Award (Percy Adlon)
  • 1989: nominated for the Oscar for Best Music, Original Song (Bob Telson for the song "Calling You")
  • 1989: won Amanda Best Foreign Feature Film (Percy Adlon)
  • 1989: won Artios Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy (Al Onorato and Jerold Franks)
  • 1989: won César Award for Best Foreign Film (Percy Adlon)

Television series[edit]

In 1990 the film was re-created as a television series starring James Gammon, Whoopi Goldberg, Cleavon Little, and Jean Stapleton, with Stapleton as the abandoned tourist, and Goldberg as the restaurant operator. In the TV version the tourist was no longer from Germany. The series was shot in the conventional sitcom format, before a studio audience.[9] The show did not attract a sizable audience and it was cancelled after two seasons.[10]


Bagdad Cafe, Newberry Springs (Location on Google Maps).

The setting, Bagdad, California, is a former town on U.S. Route 66. After being bypassed by Interstate 40 in 1973, it was abandoned and eventually razed. While the town had a "Bagdad Cafe", the film was shot at the then Sidewinder Cafe in Newberry Springs, 50 miles (80 km) west of the site of Bagdad. The cafe has become something of a tourist destination; to capitalize on the movie, it changed its name to Bagdad Cafe. A small noticeboard on the cafe wall features snapshots of the film's cast and crew.


The soundtrack features the song "Calling You", by Jevetta Steele, and has a track in which the director narrates the story, including the film's missing scenes.

The principal piano pieces, performed by Darron Flagg, are preludes from Book I of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier: the C major, no. 1, BWV 845; the C major, BWV 846, no. 2; and the D major, no. 5, BWV 850.


  1. ^ Goldstein, Patrick (25 May 1995). "Percy Adlon's Trek to 'Bagdad Cafe' – Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  2. ^ Thomas, Kevin (25 May 1995). "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Bagdad Cafe' Serves Endearing and Quirky Version of America – Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (22 April 1988). "Movie Review - Bagdad Cafe - Review/Film; Exotic U.S. In Bavarian Perspective -". Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Bagdad Cafe – Reviews". 9 September 1988. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  5. ^ "Bagdad Cafe", Rotten Tomatoes, retrieved 2019-07-08
  6. ^ Bagdad Cafe Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 3 February 2014.
  7. ^ Klady, Leonard (8 January 1989). "Box Office Champs, Chumps: The hero of the bottom line was the 46-year-old 'Bambi' – Page 2 – Los Angeles Times". Retrieved 26 June 2012.
  8. ^ "Out of Rosenheim (1987)". Swedish Film Institute. 15 March 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-04-11.
  9. ^ Tucker, Ken (30 March 1990). "Bagdad Cafe". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 12 June 2012.
  10. ^ Harris, Mark (21 December 1990). "Goodbye to Bagdad Cafe". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 26 June 2012.

External links[edit]