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Blue Velvet at 30

by Jason Adams 

With our host Nathaniel off in Toronto seeing movies this week; some good, some bad... but which ones will last forever? It's a question I put forth because David Lynch's masterpiece Blue Velvet played at the Toronto Film Festival exactly 30 years ago today. Did those fortunate souls sitting there in that audience know they were seeing a stone-cold American classic unveiled unto the world. I can't imagine they didn't know they were seeing something unlike anything else they'd ever seen before, that much seems clear. The film made some noise!

Blue Velvet's one of my Top Five Favorites so let's celebrate its anniversary (it was released in US theaters one week after its screening in Toronto). In honor of 30 years here are 30 favorite Blue Velvety facts, figures, and fun stuff, starting with...


2. But seriously this is Lynch's first collaboration with his muse and most important collaborator (so says me and that cow he stood on Hollywood Blvd with) and it's a pleasure to contrast the character of Sandy with the places the two would later go - the sweetness and naivete here evenautally giving way to all kinds of craziness; it's impossible not to look at this nice young lady now and not see the wild woman -- Lulu Fortune anybody? -- about to come beating out from underneath those fuzzy sweaters.

Ears and lots of the F-word after the break...

3. Molly Ringwald almost played Sandy first, but her mother wouldn't allow her to take the role!

4. "He put his disease in me."

5. The Candy Colored Clown called The Sandman


7. "Here's to your fuck."

8. The opening shot of the Jeffrey's father having a heart attack and his dog lapping at the hose beside him

9. The way that opening shot then sinks into the suburban dirt to scuttle alongside the insects, basically exposing the thesis for Lynch's entire career in one fell swoop

10. "Do you see that house? I used to know a kid who lived there - he had the biggest tongue in the world."

11. According to lore (and Wikipedia) at a Chicago screening of the film a man fainted and had to have his pacemaker changed. Upon completion of the surgery the man then returned to the cinema to see the ending of the film.

12. The film played at suburban malls across the country, foreshadowing the quite literally insane mainstream embrace of Lynch that would (momentarily) come four years later with Twin Peaks

13. Dennis Hopper's ability to use the word "fuck" as a verb, an adjective, and a noun all at once

14. And according to Hopper in person Lynch would only refer to the word "fuck" as "that word"

15. Kyle MacLachlan says the line "I am in the middle of a mystery" at the precise mid-point of the film

16. Roger Ebert's extensive and life-long criticism of the film's sadism mixed with insincerity has always read to me as a defense of its strengths, not its weaknesses, but then Roger and I often came at movies from opposite angles

17. It was only nominated for one Oscar, for Lynch, who wouldn't be nominated again until Mulholland Drive 15 years later 

18. Kyle MacLachlan's bum -- what is it about MacLachlan that brings out the same-sex lech in David Lynch? His films generally low-ball it on the Kinsey scale but he loves to leer at MacLachlan (see also: Twin Peaks)

19. Isabelle Rossellini singing "Blue Velvet"

20. The Ear

21. This picture of David Lynch & Isabella Rossellini:

22. Dennis Hooper's fake mustache

23. Hopper reportedly said that he had to play Frank Booth because "I am Frank Booth!" 

24. Sandy: I can't figure out if you're a detective or a pervert. 

Jeffrey: Well, that's for me to know and you to find out.

25. Laura Dern's dreamy monologue about robins and love

26. Frank Booth's love letter (aka a bullet from a fucking gun, fucker!)

27. The woman who dances on top of Frank's car

28. "I looked for you in my closet tonight."

29. The animatronic little bird eating the worm at the end, and the way the great Frances Bay watches him chewing

30. LAURA DERN"S FACE (once is never enough)

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Reader Comments (16)

Kyle McLachlan's bum and Laura Dern's face <3 <3

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Went to a revival screening and the audience burst into laughter at Dern's reaction to "He put his disease in me." I love the music and the thick black levels of the photography. Dern emerging from blackness didn't make your top 30 is strange. By the way I can imitate Isabella's version of Blue Velvet. And her whisper of "I like to sing Blue Velvet."

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

#18 is the realest, Jason.

There's so much to discuss, be outraged or titillated by, to rediscover with this film 30 years on that only 30 things feels all too brief. It's rare for a film to feel so dangerous these days. Masterpiece.

September 12, 2016 | Registered CommenterChris Feil

According to myth, Isabella was very self conscious of her singing. She never believed she was a good singer and during her time pre-recording the song, it never took. She, Lynch and the sound editor I think basically cut and paste different times when she sang the song. The movie version is actually 5 differnet takes spliced together.

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterTom


I still think it's a good movie to take someone on a date, if that person is into some weird shit. I love how it was used in The Squid and the Whale.

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Used to call Dern "Bathtub Mouth" after this movie.

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

And Hope Lange in her early 50s bears a resemblance to Patty Duke in her early 50s.

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Isabella has significant relationships in her life to both David Lynch and Martin Scorses but she still has no Oscar nom smh

September 12, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

The last two sentences of /3rtful's comment is more nightmarish than anything Lynch :p

September 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterIzzy

Laura Dern was such a doormat in the movie, yuk yuk yuk

September 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterYavor

I saw it in a special screening months ago. Utterly fascinating. '86 gave us real gems.

September 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

I love/hated tihs movie... I saw it 3X before I thought it was a minor classic...

September 13, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterrick

This movie really affected me- I remember leaving the screening and feeling I was in still in a Davy Lynch dream- a true visionary.

September 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

Laura Dern's face is all I really remember about "Blue Velvet"

September 13, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

It makes weirdness a bit ok.

September 14, 2016 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

One of the films I am most proud to have been a part of, I was the makeup and special FX makeup supervisor and I made the ear! I'm very happy people still get this film!

September 19, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterJeff Goodwin

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