A fantastic movie poster for ‘Blue Velvet’ by Italian artist Enzo Sciotti.
I found the movie poster pictured above for 1986’s Blue Velvet, by Italian artist Enzo Sciotto, so inspiring that I decided to write this post just so I had an excuse to showcase it for you. If for some reason you’ve never seen Blue Velvet, I hope this will help convince you to change that as quickly as possible—though I’ll warn you that after watching the film for the first time, you might not be so eager to answer your front door for quite a while, even if it’s just the pizza delivery guy because in your mind it very well might be “Frank Booth,” the beyond sinister character masterfully played by Dennis Hopper in the film. For those who have seen Blue Velvet, you are probably reminded of the movie anytime you see a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. There is an abundance of trivia and folklore associated with Blue Velvet that is as fascinating as the movie itself, some of which I was unaware of before I took this deep dive into the Lynch classic today.
So since we were just talking about good-old Heineken-hating Frank, let’s start with some tidbits regarding Hopper’s experience on the film. Blue Velvet was the first time Hopper and ethereal actress Isabella Rossellini had ever worked together. Their relationship in the film is complicated, to say the least, and Hopper’s character was charged with subjecting Rossellini’s character to some pretty awful stuff including a horrific rape scene. Unbeknownst to Hopper, when it came time to shoot that particular scene, Rossellini was completely naked under another object of Frank’s affection, her blue velvet robe. When Hopper finally opens Rossellini’s robe he got an unexpected eyeful of the gorgeous actress and her lady parts which left the seemingly unshakeable Hopper rather stunned.
Another interesting piece of trivia concerning Hopper’s portrayal of Booth is his excessive use of the word “fuck” and its many variations in nearly every line of his dialog resulting in more than 50 “fucks” (55 in total I believe) coming from Hopper himself exclusively.
A French lobby card for ‘Blue Velvet.’
According to Hopper, David Lynch himself would never utter the four-letter word, choosing instead to simply point to the word in the script instructing him to say “that word.” Lynch would later somewhat dispute the claim by the newly sober Hopper who used to snort a terrifying amount of coke which he washed down with 28 beers and a bottle of rum on a daily basis before he went into detox. And yeah, I just dropped another Blue Velvet bombshell—Dennis Hopper was booze and drug-free for the first time in a very long time while playing Frank Booth—a frenzied drug addict with a penchant for PBR and murder.
Lastly, if you’ve ever wondered what exactly was streaming through Booth’s oxygen mask, the details about that are also quite compelling. Lynch’s vision for further mythologizing the character of Frank Booth involved altering Booth’s voice to reinforce the concept that he would regress to, at times, a child-like persona while huffing an unidentified “drug” through his gas mask. To do this, Lynch wanted to have Hopper inhale a bunch of helium through the mask so he sounded like a deranged version of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Hopper made a sage recommendation based on his not-so-long-ago drug days saying that using amyl nitrite (a drug used to treat chest pain) would help enhance the sexual energy of the scene. Lynch agreed and the result is one of the most savage and unhinged moments in movie history. Though Hopper had been warned by Hollywood insiders and his agents to run away from the role, the actor would correctly refer to the part as “a fucking dream, man.” Beautiful. Rossellini was also concerned about her role being too “risky” but immediately identified with her character saying that she saw a woman who was totally “victimized,” who had lost all her “rationality” and was left with “only emotions.”
Another point of interest concerning the film, and one some of you may already be aware of, is the fact that David Lynch and Isabella Rossellini developed a serious romantic relationship while filming Blue Velvet. The two spent four years together and were engaged to be married, though they would part ways shortly after the premiere of another one of Lynch’s films, 1990’s Wild At Heart in which Rossellini played the blonde ex-girlfriend of Nicolas Cage’s character. Rossellini has gone on the record as saying that Lynch was the “big love of her life” and after he ended their love-affair she was “broken-hearted.” Another curious item of note regarding the role of Dorothy is that Lynch originally wrote the role for Deborah Harry who turned the part down because she was sick of playing “weirdos.” Wow. I’ve included some beautiful and rather brutal images from the film, from French lobby cards to stills, and a few intriguing movie posters for you to scroll through below. Most of them are NSFW.
A Turkish movie poster for ‘Blue Velvet.’
Dennis Hopper as the demonic “Frank Booth” in ‘Blue Velvet.’
Director David Lynch looking into the “face” of an artificial Frank
More after the jump…