Blue Velvet (1986)

R | 120 mins | Drama | 19 September 1986

Director:

David Lynch

Writer:

David Lynch

Producer:

Fred Caruso

Cinematographer:

Frederick Elmes

Editor:

Duwayne Dunham

Production Designer:

Patricia Norris

Production Company:

Blue Velvet Productions
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HISTORY

On 25 Feb 1981, Var announced that executive producer Richard Roth had recently secured a multi-picture deal at Warner Bros. that included David Lynch’s new feature, Blue Velvet. Roth set up a contract with Lynch after viewing The Elephant Man (1980, see entry), which received eight Academy Award nominations. As of Feb 1981, writing was underway for Blue Velvet, but production dates were contingent on another pending Lynch project, Ronnie Rocket. According to a 17 Sep 1986 Newsday article, Lynch was first inspired to write the story after hearing the 1963 Bobby Vinton song “Blue Velvet,” which conjured a particular mood of the early 1960s. Lynch reported that “the next thing that came along was a desire – half-desire, half-idea – of wanting to sneak into a girl’s room and watch her through the night. In that room, I would see something that would be a clue. I maybe wouldn’t know it then, but it would be a clue to a murder or some mystery. And the third thing would be finding this ear in the field. And this ear, which I don’t really understand why it has to be an ear – but it has to be an ear – is sort of like a ticket for the hero to go into another world. His life will never be the same.” Lynch also noted that Franz Kafka was his greatest influence.
       Blue Velvet remained in limbo over the next three-and-a-half years, until a 31 Aug 1984 DV article reported producer Dino De ... More Less

On 25 Feb 1981, Var announced that executive producer Richard Roth had recently secured a multi-picture deal at Warner Bros. that included David Lynch’s new feature, Blue Velvet. Roth set up a contract with Lynch after viewing The Elephant Man (1980, see entry), which received eight Academy Award nominations. As of Feb 1981, writing was underway for Blue Velvet, but production dates were contingent on another pending Lynch project, Ronnie Rocket. According to a 17 Sep 1986 Newsday article, Lynch was first inspired to write the story after hearing the 1963 Bobby Vinton song “Blue Velvet,” which conjured a particular mood of the early 1960s. Lynch reported that “the next thing that came along was a desire – half-desire, half-idea – of wanting to sneak into a girl’s room and watch her through the night. In that room, I would see something that would be a clue. I maybe wouldn’t know it then, but it would be a clue to a murder or some mystery. And the third thing would be finding this ear in the field. And this ear, which I don’t really understand why it has to be an ear – but it has to be an ear – is sort of like a ticket for the hero to go into another world. His life will never be the same.” Lynch also noted that Franz Kafka was his greatest influence.
       Blue Velvet remained in limbo over the next three-and-a-half years, until a 31 Aug 1984 DV article reported producer Dino De Laurentiis had agreed to finance the picture for $7 million. At that time, Lynch was near completion on De Laurentiis’s $40 million science-fiction feature Dune (1984, see entry), which was produced by the filmmaker’s daughter, Raffaella De Laurentiis. She was set to resume her producing role on Blue Velvet, but is not credited onscreen. Principal photography was scheduled to begin Jan 1985 at De Laurentiis’s studio in NC, and Kyle MacLachlan, who starred in Dune, was cast as Blue Velvet’s “Jeffrey Beaumont.” De Laurentiis planned to produce Ronnie Rocket, as well as two, possibly four sequels, in the Dune franchise, to be directed by Lynch.
       Just over two months later, a 5 Nov 1984 DV article stated that Blue Velvet was postponed, as Raffaella De Laurentiis planned to put Tai-Pan (1986, see entry) into production first. In addition, she considered prioritizing Ronnie Rocket, since Lynch was reportedly “undecided” about which project he wanted to work on next. De Laurentiis dispelled reports that Blue Velvet had been deferred due to its “explicit sexual content.” However, nearly a year passed before a 19 Sep 1985 DV news item announced that Dennis Hopper and Laura Dern had been cast, and Fred Caruso had been hired as producer. On 14 Feb 1986, DV reported the establishment of the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group (DEG), which was making a presentation at its first exhibitor’s convention in Las Vegas, NV. Two months earlier, Dino De Laurentiis had purchased Embassy Pictures from Coca-Cola, and absorbed the company under the DEG banner.
       Principal photography took place in early 1986 at De Laurentiis’s DEG studio facility in Wilmington, NC, and in the nearby town of Lumberton, NC, which reportedly reminded Lynch of his childhood home in Spokane, WA, as stated in a 26 Sep1986 LAT article. According to Newsday, Lynch listened to Dmitri Shostakovich’s final symphony, “Symphony No. 15,” on earphones throughout production to choreograph the action in “an Eastern European mood.”
       On 18 Jul 1986, DV announced that Blue Velvet was set to premiere at the World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. Dino De Laurentiis was honored with the competition’s first “Festival Achievement Award,” and a retrospective of six De Laurentiis productions culminated with the screening of Blue Velvet.
       The film opened on 19 Sep 1986 to critical praise and box-office success, grossing $789,409 in its first three days of release on ninety-eight screens, according to a 23 Sep 1986 DV report. A news item in the same publication noted that Blue Velvet surpassed Stand By Me (1986, see entry) as the top-grossing picture in Los Angeles, CA, in its opening weekend. Stand By Me had been in release over one month at that time.
       The film was nominated for one Academy Award in the Directing category. Blue Velvet ranked #36 on AFI’s list of “100 Years…100 Heroes & Villains,” and #96 on the list of “100 Years…100 Thrills.”
       End credits state: “Filmed at the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group Studios, Wilmington, North Carolina,” and, “Our special thanks to the people of Wilmington, North Carolina; New Hanover Memorial Hospital; the State of North Carolina.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1984.
---
Daily Variety
5 Nov 1984
p. 1, 11.
Daily Variety
19 Sep 1985
p. 14.
Daily Variety
14 Feb 1986.
---
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1986
p. 58.
Daily Variety
23 Sep 1986
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Aug 1986
p. 3, 26.
Los Angeles Times
19 Sep 1986
p. 1, 17.
Los Angeles Times
26 Sep1986
p. 22.
New York Times
19 Sep 1986
p. 12.
Newsday
17 Sep 1986
p. 9.
Variety
25 Feb 1981
p. 17.
Variety
3 Sep 1986
p. 16.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group presents
A David Lynch film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
1st asst cam
Cam asst
Still photog
Gaffer
Generator op
Elec dept
Elec dept
Elec dept
Elec dept
Elec dept
Elec dept
Key grip
Dolly grip
Grip dept
Grip dept
Best boy
Rigging chief
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
Rigging
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dept asst
Draftsperson
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Const coord
Lead carpenter
Prop master
Set prop man
Chief scenic artist
Scenic artist
Props set dressing
Props set dressing
Props set dressing
Props set dressing
Props set dressing
Props set dressing
COSTUMES
Costumer
Set ward
Cost shop supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
Mus re-rec mixer
Mus ed
Asst mus ed
Mus score rec by
Courtesy of Apon Record Co. Inc.; Publisher: DeLaurentiis Music
SOUND
Sd des
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
Sd ed
Foley artist
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd asst
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles and opticals by
MAKEUP
Hairstylist
Makeup supv
Spec eff makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Casting
Casting assoc
Extras casting addl casting
Scr supv
Asst to David Lynch
Craft service
Intern assoc
Intern assoc
Prod supv
Prod office coord
Transportation coord
Loc coord
Key prod asst
Asst accountant
Asst accountant
Loc asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Driver
Driver
Driver
Catering by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
Stunt performer
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
SONGS
“Blue Velvet,” performed by Bobby Vinton, written by Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne, provided courtesy of CBS Records, publisher: Vogue Music
“Mysteries Of Love,” performed by Julee Cruise, music by Angelo Badalamenti, lyrics by David Lynch
“Blue Star,” performed by Isabella Rossellini, music by Angelo Badalamenti, lyrics by David Lynch
+
SONGS
“Blue Velvet,” performed by Bobby Vinton, written by Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne, provided courtesy of CBS Records, publisher: Vogue Music
“Mysteries Of Love,” performed by Julee Cruise, music by Angelo Badalamenti, lyrics by David Lynch
“Blue Star,” performed by Isabella Rossellini, music by Angelo Badalamenti, lyrics by David Lynch
“In Dreams,” performed by Roy Orbison, courtesy of Monument Records, written by Roy Orbison, publisher: Acuff Rose Opryland Music
“Love Letters,” performed by Ketty Lester, courtesy of Dominion Entertainment Inc., written by Victor Young and Edward Heyman, publisher: Famous Music Corp.
“Honky Tonk (Part I),” performed by Bill Doggett, courtesy of Gusto Records Inc., written by Shep Shepherd, Clifford Scott, Bill Doggett and Billy Butler, publisher: W & K Publishing Corp., Islip Music
“Livin' For Your Lover” and “Gone Ridin’,” music excerpts performed by Chris Isaak, courtesy of Transtone Productions, Inc., publisher: Isaak Music Co.
“Blue Velvet,” performed by Isabella Rossellini, written by Lee Morris and Bernie Wayne, publisher: Vogue Music.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
19 September 1986
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 19 September 1986
Production Date:
early 1986
Copyright Claimant:
DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group
Copyright Date:
18 November 1986
Copyright Number:
PA312029
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Duration(in mins):
120
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

College student Jeffrey Beaumont returns home to the small logging town of Lumberton when his father suffers a heart attack. After visiting the hospital, Jeffrey finds an amputated human ear in a vacant lot, and takes the organ to police detective John Williams, whose daughter, Sandy, was an underclassman at Jeffrey’s former high school. As Det. Williams takes over the case, Jeffrey plies Sandy for information, and she reports that a mysterious singer named Dorothy Vallens is somehow involved. They drive to her apartment building, which is located near the field in which the ear was discovered. The following day, Jeffrey picks Sandy up from school, and plots to covertly survey Dorothy Vallens’s apartment by pretending to be a pest exterminator. Dorothy allows Jeffrey inside, but his ruse goes awry when a man dressed in a yellow suit arrives, and Jeffrey steals a spare key to return later. That night, Sandy and Jeffrey watch the chanteuse perform the song “Blue Velvet” at a local nightclub, and drive back to her apartment before the performance ends. Sandy, who is terrified by Jeffrey’s homespun investigation, promises to honk the car horn if she sees Dorothy return. Inside, Jeffrey is overwhelmed by the urge to urinate and does not hear Sandy’s alarm when he flushes the toilet. Heeding Dorothy’s approach, Jeffrey hides in the living room closet and peers through its wood-slat door as she undresses, and answers a telephone call from a deranged, sadistic tormentor, Frank Booth. The conversation leads Jeffrey to believe that Frank has aligned himself with Dorothy’s estranged husband, Don, and has kidnapped their young son, Little Donny. ... +


College student Jeffrey Beaumont returns home to the small logging town of Lumberton when his father suffers a heart attack. After visiting the hospital, Jeffrey finds an amputated human ear in a vacant lot, and takes the organ to police detective John Williams, whose daughter, Sandy, was an underclassman at Jeffrey’s former high school. As Det. Williams takes over the case, Jeffrey plies Sandy for information, and she reports that a mysterious singer named Dorothy Vallens is somehow involved. They drive to her apartment building, which is located near the field in which the ear was discovered. The following day, Jeffrey picks Sandy up from school, and plots to covertly survey Dorothy Vallens’s apartment by pretending to be a pest exterminator. Dorothy allows Jeffrey inside, but his ruse goes awry when a man dressed in a yellow suit arrives, and Jeffrey steals a spare key to return later. That night, Sandy and Jeffrey watch the chanteuse perform the song “Blue Velvet” at a local nightclub, and drive back to her apartment before the performance ends. Sandy, who is terrified by Jeffrey’s homespun investigation, promises to honk the car horn if she sees Dorothy return. Inside, Jeffrey is overwhelmed by the urge to urinate and does not hear Sandy’s alarm when he flushes the toilet. Heeding Dorothy’s approach, Jeffrey hides in the living room closet and peers through its wood-slat door as she undresses, and answers a telephone call from a deranged, sadistic tormentor, Frank Booth. The conversation leads Jeffrey to believe that Frank has aligned himself with Dorothy’s estranged husband, Don, and has kidnapped their young son, Little Donny. Finishing the call, Dorothy is terrified to find Jeffrey in her closet. She threatens him with a knife, orders him to strip naked, and seduces him, but Frank arrives unexpectedly and Jeffrey returns to the closet. He watches through the slats as Frank becomes psychologically unhinged, inhaling drug vapors through a gas mask, simulating sex, and slapping Dorothy while referring to her as “Mommy.” When Frank leaves, Jeffrey consoles the frenzied singer, and she propositions him for sex. Jeffrey is intrigued, but recoils when she orders him to hit her. The next evening, Jeffrey gives Sandy a chaste description of the encounter, leaving out the sex, and speculates that Frank cut off the ear of Dorothy’s husband. Sandy, who has led an idyllic and sheltered life, is devastated to learn about the sinister nature of humanity, and describes a dream she had the night she met Jeffrey. In her vision, the darkness of the world turned to light when thousands of robins, the birds of love, were liberated from captivity. Sometime later, Jeffrey returns to Dorothy’s nightclub, follows Frank home, and begins to conduct surveillance, taking photographs of various associates, including the man in the yellow suit from Dorothy’s apartment, who he calls the “Yellow Man,” and a figure in a “well-dressed man disguise.” Reporting back to Sandy, Jeffrey suspects the transactions are drug-related, as a dealer was killed nearby, and a girl’s legs were broken. While Sandy is aghast at Jeffrey’s discoveries, he remains exhilarated, and explains he is finally able to see mysterious aspects of life that were previously concealed. He confesses that Sandy is one such “mystery,” and kisses her, but she begs him to respect her innocence. That night, Jeffrey makes love to Dorothy, and reluctantly submits to her masochistic desires. As they bid each other farewell, Frank arrives and orders Jeffrey to join his gang for a “joy ride” in his car. They speed to a brothel called “This Is It,” where Dorothy is permitted to visit her son, and an effeminate host named Ben serenades Frank with his favorite song, “In Dreams.” Frank loses patience and declares it is time to resume his journey of sexual conquest. Back on the road, Frank fondles Dorothy’s breasts and Jeffrey punches him in protest. Frank drags the boy out of the vehicle at knifepoint, applies lipstick, and kisses him. Threatening to possess Jeffrey in his dreams, Frank beats the young man until he loses consciousness. Jeffrey awakens alone in a lumberyard, stumbles home, and telephones Sandy, who convinces him to reveal his findings to her father. Looking for Det. Williams at the police station, Jeffrey is shocked to discover that Williams’s partner, Tom Gordon, is Frank’s associate, the “Yellow Man.” Jeffrey takes his photographs to the Williams home to reveal them to Det. Williams in private, and promises to end his amateur investigation. When Jeffrey returns to the house for a date with Sandy, he finds Det. Gordon fraternizing with the family and fears Det. Williams is also allied with Frank, but the officer quietly assures him that he is still on the case. Sandy takes Jeffrey to a high school party, where they kiss on the dance floor, and declare their love. However, their bliss is suspended when a car chases them home, and Jeffrey believes Frank is coming after him. Pulling over, he discovers the stalker is Sandy’s jilted boyfriend, Mike, who challenges him to a fight. Just then, Dorothy limps toward them in a stupor, naked and bruised. As Jeffrey embraces her and guides her to his car, Sandy wonders why the woman is so intimate with her paramour. Back at the Williams house, Dorothy calls Jeffrey her “secret lover,” and tells Sandy that he “put his disease in me.” Sandy is grief-stricken, and sobs in her mother’s arms. While paramedics take Dorothy away, Sandy hits Jeffrey, but she later forgives him when he calls from a hospital pay phone. Jeffrey orders Sandy to send her father to Dorothy’s apartment and heads there himself, only to discover a gruesome crime scene. Det. Gordon, aka the “Yellow Man,” stands in rigor mortis with a lethal gorge in his skull, and Dorothy’s husband, Don, who is missing an ear, is sitting nearby with a deadly gunshot to his head. A police radio in Gordon’s coat pocket alerts Jeffrey to a raid at Frank’s warehouse, and he decides to finally relinquish his obsession with the case. As Jeffrey leaves, however, he sees the outlaw in the “well-dressed man disguise,” and realizes the imposter is Frank. Rushing back to Dorothy’s apartment, Jeffrey grabs Det. Gordon’s radio and hides in the bedroom, transmitting his whereabouts to Det. Williams. He suddenly remembers that Frank has a radio, too, and is listening to his report. Jeffrey drops the intercom and runs to the living room. As Frank searches the bedroom, Jeffrey snatches Det. Gordon’s gun and returns to his hiding place. Frank realizes he has been deceived and storms toward the closet, where Jeffrey shoots him through the forehead. Just then, Sandy arrives with her father, who assures the boy that the nightmare has ended. Sometime later, Jeffrey awakens in his backyard, and Sandy calls him inside for lunch. His father has returned home from the hospital in good health, and a robin perches in the kitchen window with a beetle in its beak, restoring light and love to Lumberton. At a park, Dorothy embraces her young son. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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