A Criterion Bluray (4K digital restoration) of David Lynch‘s Blue Velvet pops on 5.28. I was immediately haunted, enthralled and perversely amused by this wild, brilliant noir when I first saw it 32 and 3/4 years ago (it opened on 9.19.86). And yet I haven’t rewatched it since. The bottom line is that it’s more fascinating than likable.
What do I actually “like” about Blue Velvet? Dennis Hopper‘s performance mostly. Breathing in the nitrous oxide. That line about Pabst Blue Ribbon. “Mommy…Daddy wants to fuhhhhck!” Plus the famous slow-mo shot of a small-town fireman smiling and waving from a fire truck as it passes by.
I also have a vaguely unpleasant recollection of poor Isabella Rossellini (who was romantically involved with Lynch from ’86 through ’90 or thereabouts) having been seemingly treated like a piece of erotic meat with all the s&m nude scenes and whatnot.
There must have been semi-profound currents between Lynch and Rossellini for their relationship to have lasted four years, but this famous Helmut Newton photo is, for me, a portrait of a guy who’s more fixated and erotically intrigued than taken by genuine love and affection.
Helmut Newton photo, taken in ’86 or ’87. I think.
Here’s an account of the Lynch-Rossellini relationship; here’s another. Both report that Lynch ended the relationship. Quote: “The couple reportedly broke up and one of the reasons given was that Lynch could not stand the smell of cooking in the house because it would infect his drawings and writing papers.”
Anecdote: In the fall of ’85 I was working for New Line Cinema as an in-house publicist for A Nightmare on Elm Street, Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge. The Jack Sholder-directed thriller (which is better than half-decent) costarred Hope Lange, who at the time had also landed a supporting role in Blue Velvet.
One afternoon somebody called Lange about some p.r. matter. Before picking up she apparently had an idea that a Blue Velvet person was calling. Her tone of voice was very spirited and friendly during the first few seconds of the call, but things turned sour and chilly when she realized she was talking to New Line. As in “ohh, it’s you guys…can I help you?”