Non-Union Films: Blue Velvet


Non-Union Films: Blue Velvet

The film career of David Lynch had an unlikely savior after the poorly received 1984 adaptation of Dune. Dino De Laurentiis gave Lynch license to make a personal film with unheard of final cut rights: Blue Velvet.

In this episode we return to the scene of the filmmaking miracle, Wilmington, North Carolina, considered by some to be the loose basis for the town of Twin Peaks.

On this episode we are joined by Heather┬áDivoky, a local artist in the Sarus Festival, opening March 22, 2018. You will be able to see her work “1000” at the Wabi Sabi Warehouse.

Show Summary


  • Special guest Heather Divoky
  • See Heather’s installment “1000” in the Sarus Festival in Wilmington, NC
  • Her piece will be featured at the Wabi Sabi Warehouse venue Thursday, March 22nd
  • Blue velvet cake does exist

Blue Velvet Background

  • The road of Dino De Laurentiis’ career goes through Blue Velvet
  • Initially a shocking film
  • Features many servings of Wilmington, NC in exteriors
  • “Find an ear, start an adventure.”

The Main Cast

  • Isabella Rossellini, model turned actress, daughter of Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini
  • Kyle Maclachlan, aka Dale Cooper of Twin Peaks, and the mayor of Portland in Portlandia
  • Dennis Hopper used this film to relaunch his career after addiction issues
  • Laura Dern of Jurassic Park and The Last Jedi

The Career of David Lynch

  • Like Kubrickian or post-modernism, you known what is Lynchian when you see it
  • The surreal and psychological horror of Eraserhead
  • Nominated for Best Director for the 1980 film The Elephant Man
  • “Direct this yourself, Lucas.” David Lynch turns down directing Return of the Jedi
  • The box office disaster, Dune
  • We get into a shouting match over Dune
  • Lynch asks for final edit control over Blue Velvet in his negotiations with De Laurentiis
  • Wild at Heart and Twin Peaks
  • Lost Highway, Mulholland Drive, and Inland Empire
  • Twin Peaks the Return on Showtime

Free Discussion on Blue Velvet

  • “In Dreams” lip sync scene with Dean Stockwell (“The eye of the duck”)
  • Without final edit control, the studio might have included a gun buying montage and rampage scene
  • Dennis Hopper, helium, and amyl nitrate
  • Molly Ringwald’s mother turned down the role of Sandy on her daughter’s behalf
  • The town name “Lumbertown” is real and near the shooting location
  • Wilmington was the partial basis for the town of Twin Peaks?
  • A horrible outdoor scene gets the police called on David Lynch
  • An overview of the plot and major themes on sexuality and relationships
  • Angelo Badalamenti meets David Lynch on this film
  • A shared David Lynch universe?
  • Allen complains about season two of Twin Peaks again

Reactions to Blue Velvet

  • It makes its money back at the domestic box office (over 8.5 million dollars)
  • Initial public outcry
  • Roger Ebert’s monocle pops out
  • Comparison to Pulp Fiction as an early vanguard of independent film
  • Now 94% on Rotten Tomatoes, ooh la la
  • Sean is on a first name basis with Lawrence of Arabia

Overarching Themes

  • The classic cars and the most evil car ever made, the Dodge Challenger
  • A foreboding mood that eventually dissipates
  • Could David Lynch go high concept again?
  • A careful take on a difficult topic
  • A theme of moving on after abuse
  • Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me has parallels with Blue Velvet
  • Twin Peaks the Return was an homage to Lynch’s own career
  • Insects are a recurring motif in the film
  • A shouting match over how Jeffrey’s father is hospitalized
  • The famously fake looking robin at the end of the movie
  • A thin wholesome veneer over a darker reality
  • Salvador Dali influences
  • The movie is bookended by the ear transit shots

Wrapping Up

  • One of seven Franks: Dennis Hopper’s career
  • Fake eyebrows are a great disguise
  • The Lincoln assassination connection?
  • Silencers in movies, portrayed not terribly here
  • David Lynch, master of sound design in cinema
  • See Heather Divoky’s piece “1000” at the Sarus Festival in Wilmington, NC starting March 22nd
  • Hyping up the ultimate Dune grudge match


Arlene's Diner

The location of Arlene’s Cafe is now a restaurant called Savorez. This could be a prototype for what becomes the Double R Diner in Twin Peaks

Carolina Apartments

The Deep River Apartments exterior depicted in the film is the Carolina Apartments building in downtown Wilmington

Downtown riverfront of Wilmington

A shot of downtown Wilmington circa 1986 from across the Cape Fear River

New Hanover High School

Laura Dern was actually attending New Hanover High School the whole time

The Slow Club

A hub of activity in the film, The Slow Club exterior is now a burger joint, Winnie’s Tavern

Warehouse building

The warehouse building has been featured in other Wilmington productions, including Dawson’s Creek

Lumberton billboard

While a real life Lumberton, NC does exist, the film is actually shot in nearby Wilmington, NC

Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper

David Lynch calls this scene with Dean Stockwell and Dennis Hopper “the eye of the duck.”


The Sarus Festival begins March 22nd in Wilmington, NC.

George Lucas wanted David Lynch to Direct Return of the Jedi.

Mysteries of Love is a 2002 documentary on the making of Blue Velvet.

StarNews looks back on the 30th anniversary of Blue Velvet filming in Wilmington.

Den of Geek! re-examines Blue Velvet with its release on Blu-ray.

Need some more location fixes? The Movie District has several present day Google Map locations alongside stills of the locations from the film.

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