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Sandy: I can't tell if you're a detective or a pervert.
Jeffery: Well that's for me to know and you to find out.
Blue Velvet (1986) is a mystery/noir film written and directed by David Lynch, which essentially served as a comeback film for the director after the critical and box office failure of 1984's Dune. Starring Lynch regulars Kyle MacLachlan, Laura Dern, and Isabella Rossellini, and Dennis Hopper. The title Blue Velvet is taken from the 1963 Bobby Vinton song of the same name. The film, although barely breaking even commercially, shone in comparison to Dune and was highly acclaimed by critics, reviving Lynch's career and earning him his second Academy Award nomination for Best Director. Besides salvaging Lynch's career, the film is notable for launching Isabella Rossellini's acting career, having previously been known mainly as a fashion model, cosmetics spokeswoman and Ingrid Bergman's daughter.
The film tells the story of a college student Jeffrey Beaumont, who has returned home to his hometown of Lumberton, North Carolina after his father had a crippling stroke to help run the family business. A couple of days after arriving back into town, Jeffrey discovers a severed human ear in a grass field behind a neighbourhood, which leads to Jeffrey deciding to play amateur detective with help from Sandy Williams, a high school student and daughter of Lieutenant John Williams, a detective in the town.
The investigation leads Jeffrey towards his town's dark, seedy underbelly as he discovers that the ear belongs to the husband of a roadhouse singer named Dorothy, a Broken Bird whose child has been kidnapped by the local crime boss (and complete psychopath) Frank Booth, in order to turn her into his virtual sex slave. Jeffrey finds himself drawn into Dorothy's nightmare as the film explores voyeuristic sex and drug-fueled crime as Jeffrey tries to save Dorothy from her living hell. Blue Velvet remains a leading example of the neo-noir genre, widely regarded as one of Lynch's greatest, most seminal works and has become a cult classic.
This movie contains examples of:
"God damn you're one suave fucker."
- Isn't Ben more a case of Faux Affably Evil? In particular, the part after he watches Frank punch Jeffrey in the face and force him to make a toast. Ben politely thanks Jeffrey for the toast, expresses concern for Jeffrey's face, and then punches him in the stomach and asks him if that's better. Since his politeness enhances his evil by making it clear how sociopathic he is, rather than lessens it, I'd say he's more Faux Affably Evil.
- Amateur Sleuth: Jeffrey.
- Animal Motifs: The film is full of these, but they're mostly about bugs. In the beginning, there is a colony of beetle-like bugs crawling around just under the surface of the lawn that Jeffrey's father was keeping in pristine condition. The bugs are meant to represent the dark secrets lying just under the surface of the town itself. Jeffrey even calls one of the shady characters "Yellow Man" because he wears a yellow jacket. Throughout the film, Sandy references her dream about robins bringing light and love with them to eradicate darkness. Then, at the end of the film, A robin appears on the windowsill, holding one of the bugs from under the lawn in its beak, signifying the aforementioned arrival of light to end the darkness.
- Anything That Moves: Frank Booth, by his own estimation, in so many words.
- Arc Words: "It's a strange world."
- Ax Crazy: Booth again.
- Betty and Veronica: There's a sharp contrast between the sweet, wholesome and mentally sound Sandy and the mysterious, sexy, and mentally unhinged Dorothy, who represent the small town idyll and its hidden dark underbelly, respectively.
- Berserk Button: Doing just about any minor thing that Frank deems out-of-turn.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Frank could have saved himself a lot of trouble by killing Jeffrey instead of leaving off at a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Break the Cutie: Jeffrey gets his fair share of this. Poor Dorothy is already very broken when we first meet her and gets worse.
- Camp Gay: Ben the pimp is played this way by Dean Stockwell.
- Chewing the Scenery: Dennis Hopper. Nom nom nom.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Frank Booth, full stop.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Frank Booth is the only character in the whole movie to use the F word (except for Ben, and he only says it once when echoing a toast made by Frank), but he makes up for it by using it a lot. Like at least once per sentence.
- Crap Saccharine World: white picket fences and all.
- Depraved Bisexual: Frank puts on lipstick and kisses Jeffrey, before beating him half to death.
- The script also strongly implies that he raped Jeffrey after beating him.
- "Let's fuck! I'll fuck anything that moves!"
- Here's the actual excerpt from the screenplay: JEFFREY'S P.O.V. of rocks on the ground.He slowly picks up and looks around. The car is gone. He is swollen, bloody, and covered with lipstick. His pants have been pulled down and "FUCK YOU" has been written with lipstick on his legs. He struggles to his feet and pulls his pants up. He fastens his belt and begins limping up the dirt road highway. (If that ain't implied rape, I don't know what is).
- Dirty Cop: T.R. Gordon, who's working with Frank and Ben.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Dorothy and Jeffrey.
- Emerging From the Shadows
- Establishing Character Moment: If you think Booth is a nice guy after his first scene, you need to share whatever it is you're smoking
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Maybe a little too much, as Frank's nitrous oxide-induced foreplay suggests.
- Evil Is Hammy: In an absolute nightmarish way.
- Fan Disservice: Dorothy's cruel treatment at the hands of Frank qualifies as this. An iconic scene has her nude amid the shrubbery after Frank beat her half to death, stripped her nude, and threw her out of a moving vehicle.
- Foe Yay: Of highly disturbing and not very sexy variety.
- G-Rated Drug: While resembling nitrous oxide, the drug Booth inhales is never explicitly named, nor is the substance he traffics with Ben.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Really. There are other characters in this movie besides Booth. You have to trust me on this.
- Ho Yay: Booth - purveyor of depraved, squicky ho yay.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: There are a few of them.
- Large Ham: GET READY TO FUCK YOU FUCKER'S FUCKER !!!
- Mean Character, Nice Actor: Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth. Really, he was actually funnier, friendlier and nicer than his monstrous character. See the DVD extra and you'll know.
- Ironically, when Dennis Hopper first read the script, he purportedly called up David Lynch and said, "David, you have to let me play Frank! BECAUSE I AM FRANK!"
- Meta Twist: See Mind Screw.
- Mind Screw: Notably absent for the most part, given the director's other works. There are still bits and pieces that you'd be forgiven for missing on first view, however.
- Monster Clown: Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" or "CANDY COLORED CLOWN!!!" is a Monster Clown in the form of a song. Interestingly enough, Dean Stockwell, who lip-synchs the song while wearing white make up and exotic clothing, comes across as a Monster Clown Pimp.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Booth beats Jeffrey nearly to death in one scene.
- Not So Different: "You're like me..."
- Precision F-Strike: "Here's to your
- Product Placement: As mentioned above...
Frank: So what kind of beer do you like?
Frank: Heineken?! Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!
- Psychopathic Manchild: ...anyone? Anyone?
- Punctuated for Emphasis: "Heineken?! Fuck that shit! Pabst! Blue! Ribbon!"
- Rear Window Investigation
- Sex Slave: Frank towards Dorothy.
- Sir Swearsalot: Frank is one of the most disturbing examples of this trope imaginable. "Don't you fucking look at me! DON'T YOU FUCKING LOOK AT ME!!!"
- Soundtrack Dissonance: In addition to the titular "Blue Velvet", the film also features very disturbing usage of "In Dreams" by Roy Orbison. Orbison refused to let Lynch use the song, but Lynch was able to find a loophole to get around his lack of permission. Orbison later changed his mind anyway.
- The song playing when the cops shoot up Frank's base of operations.
- Titled After the Song
- Unusual Euphemism: "He put his disease in me."
- What Could Have Been: As Blue Velvet was conceived as a comeback film after the failure of Dune, David Lynch has opined publicly over the years that the film would never have been made had he taken up George Lucas' offer to direct Return of the Jedi instead of doing Dune.
- Frank's tank was originally meant to be filled with Helium...
- Lynch filmed a four-hour movie, which was cut down to one hour fifty-nine minutes by the studio. There's a whole two hours and one minutes worth of missing footage.
- Sandy was originally to be played by John Hughes's muse Molly Ringwald, but she turned down the role, fearing it would taint her family-friendly image.
- What Do You Mean It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: It's David Lynch. Really, do you have to ask?
- Compared to a lot of his other films, this one is actually really straightforward.
- You Bastard: Some have interpreted Frank's "You're like me" comment (as he stares almost directly at the camera) as an example of this trope.