R.I.P. Dennis Hopper (1936-2010)

“Somewhere in my strange career, someone has liked something.” – Dennis Hopper

Sadly, iconic actor/director Dennis Hopper lost his battle with prostate cancer Saturday morning. Every obituary will understandably point to his breakthrough milestone EASY RIDER (1969), but I’m sure most people who would read this blog know he had a ginormous crazy career spanning almost 6 decades.

Impressively IMDb lists over 200 film and television appearances in nearly every genre. In 1986 alone he appeared in HOOSIERS, BLUE VELVET, RIVER’S EDGE, and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, and from the looks of it that was a typical year for the man as he worked constantly until his illness got the best of him – 6 movies in 2008, 26 episodes of Crash 2008-09, and a couple of upcoming projects (THE LAST FILM FESTIVAL, ALPHA AND OMEGA) set for later this year.

A career so vast is difficult to cherry pick from, especially since he had so many bit parts in major movies – his roles in friend James Dean’s movies REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE (1955) and GIANT (1956) for example – and also because a few films he directed are unavailable on DVD these days – THE LAST MOVIE (1971) and OUT OF THE BLUE (1980). That said these are my picks for:

10 Essential (And Available) Dennis Hopper Performances


1. EASY RIDER (Dir. Dennis Hopper, 1969)


When I said every obit would highlight this as Hopper’s most acclaimed achievement I wasn‘t saying I wouldn’t also. It’s inescapable as a classic counterculture event of a movie that helped kick off the “New Hollywood” movement of the late ’60s/early ’70s. It also solidified the long-haired mustached hippie wiseacre persona that Hopper would return to a number of times throughout his acting career.

Concerning a couple of drug dealers (Hopper and Peter Fonda) who make a huge score and set out on their motorcycles to go, in the words of the film’s tagline, “looking for America”, EASY RIDER is very dated with clumsy artistic cuts, redneck stereotypes, and a cringe-inducing psychedelic trip sequence, but Hopper’s glee while riding through Monument Valley out over the sunset on his chopper is infectious. In those moments, which were innovative in their use of rock song scoring, the film’s theme of freedom lets its freak flag fly the highest.

2. BLUE VELVET (Dir. David Lynch, 1986)


Frank Booth, a Nitrous Oxide inhaling sexual deviant, was considered a comeback role for Hopper who had gone through more than one wilderness period in the years since EASY RIDER and the failure of its follow-up THE LAST MOVIE. Booth was scary and a bit funny at the same time; the manner in which he menaces nice boy Kyle MacLachlan being a twisted yet beautiful example: “Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!” The part won Hopper a few Critics’ Association awards and in 2008 was voted #54 in Premiere Magazine’s list of “The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time”.

3. APOCALYPSE NOW
(Dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) Credited as “Photojournalist” and only given a small amount of screen-time in the final reel, Hopper is one of the most memorable elements of Coppola’s seminal sprawling Vietnam epic. His cryptic speeches like this one still resonate 30 years later:

“This is dialectics. It’s very simple dialectics. One through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can’t travel in space, you can’t go out in space without, like, you know, with fractions – what are you gonna land on, one quarter, three eighths – what are you gonna do when you go from here to Venus or something? That’s dialectic physics, okay? Dialectic logic is there’s only love or hate, you either love somebody or you hate them.”

Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz then angrily hurls a book at Hopper in a moment that doesn’t feel scripted.

4. HOOSIERS (Dir. David Anspaugh, 1986) As I mentioned earlier, 1986 was a banner year for Hopper. His roles in BLUE VELVET, RIVER’S EDGE, and this Oscar nominated turn as the basketball supporting town drunk had him unstoppably on the comeback trail. It’s a folksy formulaic sports film about underdogs triumphing against all odds, but Hopper’s gutsy edge is no small part of the film’s abundant charms.

5. TRUE ROMANCE (Dir. Tony Scott, 1993)

Another small but juicy part as the ex cop father of Christian Slater who has a scene stealing showdown with mobster Christopher Walken. You can watch the scene, scripted by Quentin Tarantino, in all its almost 10 minute glory entitled “Sicilians” here on YouTube.

6. CARRIED AWAY (Dir. Bruno Barreto, 1996) It’s a LOLITA-ish tale of forbidden love in which timeworn clichés litter the landscape, but Hopper’s layered performance as a bored small town schoolteacher who has an extended fling with one of his students (Amy Locane) is one of his finest. His measured thoughtful presence comes through in scene after scene facing off with Locane, Amy Irving, Hal Holbrook, and Gary Busey. Maybe not an overlooked gem, but Hopper’s solid work makes it well worth watching. Be warned though, it may contain more Hopper than you want to see – mind you, I’m talking full frontal nudity.

7. RIVER’S EDGE (Dir. Tim Hunter, 1986)

Another from 1986, this harrowing teen drama had Hopper as Feck, a drug-dealing one-legged hermit who, like many of his characters, hijacks the movie from its stars every time he appears. For Hopper though, it wasn’t hard with lines like: “I killed a girl, it was no accident. Put a gun to the back of her head and blew her brains right out the front. I was in love.”

8. FLASHBACK (Dir. Franco Amurri, 1990) Some may scoff at Hopper’s self mocking role in a fairly lightweight comedy being given a spot on this list, but I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for his work here since I saw the film in the theaters 20 years ago. As a once famous aging hippie radical who turns the tables on a Federal Agent played by Keifer Sutherland, Hopper seems to be having a lot of fun with the familiar material that heavily references EASY RIDER.

The pair would square off a decade later on the popular TV series 24 with Sutherland playing a very different kind of FBI agent and Hopper as a Ukrainian mastermind behind the deadly scenes of season 1. Flashing back to FLASHBACK – Hopper tells Sutherland that: “The 90’s are going to make the ’60s look like the ’50s.” Of course, that didn’t turn out to be the case, but as an idealistic art student at a theater in Atlanta back in 1990 I remember believing, or at least wishing, it would be. Watch the trailer here.

9. The Twilight Zone“He’s Alive”
(Dir. Stuart Rosenberg, 1963)
In an hour long episode of the classic sci fi/fantasy anthology that isn’t rerun as much as the half hour ones, Hopper plays a street corner neo Nazi who starts to get winning advice from a mysterious stranger in the shadows. We can guess a long time before the reveal (one of the main minuses of the hour long format) that this stranger is Hitler, but it still displays that the young Hopper had talent to burn. And burn it up he did. Here’s a 10 minute edit of the episode somebody made and put up on YouTube.


10. SPEED (Dir. Jan de Bont, 1994) I figured this list wouldn’t be complete without one of Hopper’s late period makeover roles as a mainstream action movie villain. As the evil extortionist that rigs a bus to explode if it drops below 50 MPH, Hopper’s scenery chewing is a thing of unhinged bug-eyed beauty. He played very similar bad guy roles in SUPER MARIO BROS. and WATERWORLD, but SPEED wins out simply because a lot more people have seen it.

Hardly a definitive list, but a solid one that I stand by. Even with his large filmography that will take a lifetime to catch up with, Hopper will be sorely missed.

R.I.P. Dennis Hopper.

More later…

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Without A Hitch – 10 Definitive Directors’ Cameos In Their Own Movies

As film geeks throughout the blogosphere well know, an appearance by a director in their own film is a tradition established by Alfred Hitchcock. Hitch (or “Cock” as Teri Garr once claimed she called him to Francois Truffaut) had brief but notable appearances in 37 of his 52 films. Obviously excluding those who act in sizable roles in their own films (Woody Allen, Sylvester Stallone, Orson Welles, etc.) these are my favorites of the film maker folks that followed in Hitch’s footsteps:


1. Martin Scorsese in TAXI DRIVER (1976)


Scorsese has had brief bit cameos in a lot of his movies but it’s this appearance credited as “Passenger watching silhouette” that makes the biggest impression. As a nervous gun totting cuckolded husband, Scorsese tells his cabbie Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) to pull over and stay parked with the meter running outside the building where his wife is with another man. He talks about his revenge fantasy involving his 44 Magnum in the only scene in the movie in which we are creeped out by somebody other than the title character.


What puts this at the top of the list is that Scorsese actually shows some acting chops and a persuasive presence. His later performances in other’s movies, particularly Akira Kurosawa’s DREAMS and Robert Redford’s QUIZ SHOW, confirm TAXI DRIVER‘s hinted at prowess. Incidentally Scorsese can also be seen in a daylight street scene shot earlier in the film.


2. John Huston in THE TREASURE OF SIERRE MADRE (1948) Another American master who appeared in many movies, his own and others’, Huston stole a short but sweet scene from star Humphrey Bogart in this undeniable classic. Bogart’s down on his luck character Fred C. Dobbs makes the mistake of trying to bum money 3 times from Huston as an “American in Tampico in white suit”. Huston reluctantly complies but warns: “But from now on, you have to make your way through life without my assistance.” Luckily this was nothing but a movie line – Bogart and Huston assisted each other on a couple more classics afterwards (KEY LARGO and THE AFRICAN QUEEN).


3. Roman Polanski in CHINATOWN (1974) Perhaps it’s been all the op ed pieces on Polanski lately (Sometimes that have the same screen capture I have here) that helped to inspire this list but whatever the case this is a colossally classic cameo. In less than a minute of screen time, as a thug that Jack Nicholson’s Jake Gittes dismisses as a “midget”, Polanski convinces us that he actually slices Nicholson’s nose with a switchblade. It’s a moment that’s impossible to forget:



Still not convinced that it’s a classic cameo? Then check out this 12 inch articulated custom figure!


I mean come on! How many cameos have action figures representin’? Well, come to think of it, there is this guy:


4. George Lucas in STAR WARS: EPISODE III – REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) This is movie director as extra. For a member of a crowd scene in the last STAR WARS series entry (or the third if you’re into the revisionist re-jiggling thing), Lucas got himself decked out in alien garb and gave himself a name: Baron Papanoida. There’s an oddly lengthy bio at IMDb. And yes, there’s an action figure too.


5. Richard Linklater in SLACKER (1994)


Linklater’s role as “Should Have Stayed at Bus Station” sets into motion the stream of self consciousness exercise that he geared the movie to be:




It’s quite a loose likable persona that Linklater affects – one that kicks off his film career and also appears in animated form in WAKING LIFE (2001) – a sort of sequel (or at least spiritual follow-up) to SLACKER.


6. Hal Ashby in HAROLD AND MAUDE (1971)


Film babble blog favorite Ashby also does the “movie director as extra” thing as a hippy freak at a carnival in his counter culture cult classic. Of course, he was just dressed as usual and it’s not really a cameo; more of a brief shot that captures the director as a random passerby watching a mechanical toy train with Harold (Bud Cort) and Maude (Ruth Gordon). Ashby also shows up doing the extra thing again in a newsroom in BEING THERE (1980) – something I noticed just recently after missing it for years on many repeated viewings.


7. Francis Ford Coppola in APOCALYPSE NOW (1979)


So he’s the “Director of TV Crew” who barks orders at the soldiers as they run through his shot – is it an exaggeration of Coppola’s ego or the real thing? You decide:





8. David Lynch in TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) Lynch has done a number of walk on parts in his films but here he gives himself an actual character: FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole who Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle Machlachlan) reports to. Lynch’s Gordon appeared on the TV series a few blink and miss them times and his bit for the prequel/origin story/whatever movie is pretty meager. So what gets him on this list? I guess it’s that a normal office scenario is skewed by the likes of David Bowie and flashes of a white faced pointy nosed circus wack job or whatever dancing around and this time Lynch himself is in the midst of it. Welcome to my nightmare, indeed:




9. Oliver Stone in WALL STREET (1987)

Yet another director that has taken bit or extra roles in multiple movies, Stone does a split screen sound bite appearance as a broker on the phone in one of the film’s many frenetic montages. No word whether he’ll reprise the role for the sequel.

10. Sam Raimi in THE EVIL DEAD TRILOGY (1981-1992) As documented by AMC Filmsite, Sam Raimi appeared:


1981: as a Hitchhiking Fisherman and the Voice of the Evil Force
1987: as a Medieval Soldier; and
1993: as a Knight in Sweatshirt and Sneakers, who assured Ash (Bruce Campbell): “You can count on my steel”


Peter Jackson pulled the same stunt by appearing in all 3 LORD OF THE RINGS movies.


Anybody else? I know this list is just a drop in the ocean so bring on your own favorites! You know where to put ’em.

More later…

7 Years Later, Does MULHOLLAND DRIVE Make Any More Sense?


Short answer: Maybe a little. Long Answer:

Last Friday night as part of a series on film noir, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh had a screening of David Lynch’s twisted surreal drama MULHOLLAND DRIVE. The film was introduced by Independent Weekly Arts Editor David Fellerath who considers the film a masterpiece and one of the greatest of the last 10 years. He asked how many folks were seeing the film for the first time and a surprisingly huge amount of hands were raised. After some background and an attempt at plot summary, he assured the almost full room that 95% of the film holds up to “logical scrutiny”. I’m not so sure about that, but the film did seem to gain levels of coherence that it lacked for me back in 2001. Fellerath had also stated that if anybody still had problems with the film’s meaning afterwards – “there’s lots on the internet.”


There sure is lots on the internet, starting with one of the lengthiest Wikipedia entries for a film that I’ve ever seen with content headings like “Interpretations and Allusions”, detailed character breakdowns, and long intricate paragraphs on the style and critical reception. The references for the entry site 82 articles with such titles as “Nice Film If You Can Get It: Understanding Mulholland Drive (The Guardian) and Salon.com’s “Everything You Were Afraid To Ask About Mulholland Drive” (which Roger Ebert considers “the best explanation”). Another worthwhile read is Anthony Kusich’s “Mulholland Drive…Explained” which deals which the 10 clues that Lynch included in the notes for the original DVD release. The existence of the clues is curious because Lynch was quoted in the New York Times a few years later as saying that DVD extras can “demystify” a film.


Perhaps what Lynch and many critics have proposed is the most sensible way to take MULHOLLAND DRIVE – not to try and make sense of it. Just absorb the mood and visual tones winding through the various narrative strands. Naomi Watts and Laura Elena Harring are either friends turned lovers named Betty and Rita in a dream or the former lovers now estranged Diane and Camilla in reality or vice versa. It appears that Justin Theroux is one of the only constant characters – an arrogant film director who is pressured by Mafioso types, to cast Camilla in his newest film. In one of the most memorably amusing scenes has Theroux meet a cryptic character called “The Cowboy” (Lafayette Montgomery) who tells him: “A man’s attitude goes some ways. The way his life will be.” When The Cowboy can be seen passing through the background of a party scene later on it is impossible not to take as intensely comical.


A turning point comes when Betty and Rita doing some detective work because Rita has lost her memory (she took her name from a Rita Hayworth movie poster) locate a woman’s dead body. Identities then blend (the Igmar Bergman-esque screen capture above says a lot about the merging of identities I believe) with Rita donning a blonde wig and then they shatter completely with the aid of a shiny blue box (that of course appears with no explanation) and then reassemble or emerge from a dream – as when The Cowboy says: “Hey, pretty girl, time to wake up”. Many elements familiar to fans of Lynch fill the frames throughout – among them the darkened old fashioned back room of the mysterious movie studio string puller Mr. Rogue (Michael J. Anderson) wouldn’t have been out of place in the dreams of Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) on Twin Peaks and the creepy Club Silencio that Betty and Rita attend one fateful night is somewhere you would expect to see Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) from BLUE VELVET lounging around in.


Writting before about the “love/WTF?” relationship I’ve had with the films of David Lynch (“Inland Empire Burlesque” and “Hey, I Finally Saw…ERASERHEAD”) I had decided to let go of the idea of determining definitive meanings and just go with the freaky flow. Wading through the various analyzing articles previously mentioned of this particular film though is still extremely fascinating because many interpretations can exist side by side, none more valid or more convincing than the other. Maybe MULHOLLAND DRIVE doesn’t make any more sense now than it ever did but its captivating spell has indeed grown and its perverse passion is definitely more powerful than when it was first shown in the heady distracting days shortly after 9/11. For those who haven’t seen it before and lived with it for a while, I have to relate this – while the end credits were rolling at the Art Museum last Friday, a irrate woman who was obviously one of those who had earlier raised their hands, was heard complaining: “I’m very upset – it didn’t make any sense! Even PULP FICTION made sense! At the ending it all came together. I mean even AMERICAN BEAUTY made sense too!” So much for discussion, huh?

More later…

Hey, I Finally Saw…ERASERHEAD!

When it comes to being a film buff/geek admitting that you’ve never seen a particular classic film used to be a shameful act, one to be avoided for fear of scorn and derision but thanks to the wave of blog confessionals that washes all over the internets it’s a welcome entertaining way of coming clean. The Onion AV Club has a ongoing column entitled Better Late Than Never” in which a different staff member finally watches what has been long considered an essential important movie – they’ve covered HAROLD AND MAUDE, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, RAGING BULL and a handful of other movies that most people assume everybody (or at least every film fan with a blog) has seen.

Fellow blogger Graham Culbertson on his fine site Movies Et Al. has a series called Film Ignorance which also deals with catching up with highly touted cinema that he or a guest blogger is only now getting around to. So when I saw that the Colony Theater in Raleigh * had obtained a 30th anniversary print of what could be the definitive cult classic, a notorious film that I’d heard about for decades but for one reason or another I never saw, I thought it would be a good time to start my own “Hey, I finally saw…” forum. I went with a friend, who had also never seen the movie, to the Saturday night late show and now I can declare:

Hey, I finally saw…ERASERHEAD!

Despite having not seen it before last Saturday night, this iconic image, which is used on the poster, is as familiar an image to me as paintings by the great masters or the pyramids. It’s an intriguing and fitting portrait because to view David Lynch’s debut film ERASERHEAD is to get very acquainted with the face of the late Jack Nance. Nance plays Henry Spencer who says he’s on vacation from his occupation as a printer and lives in a sparely furnished one room apartment. The squalor of the slum he toils in is reflected in his eyes as is incredible sadness, desperation and above all – confusion. I entered his grainy gritty black and white world cautiously but curiously absorbing every intense corner not caring if a plot would actually rear its ugly head. What does rear its ugly head is a limbless mutant baby his timid girlfriend Mary X (Charlotte Stewart) presents him with. The grotesque reptilian offspring constantly shrieks, so much so that Mary leaves Henry to take care of the whatever it is himself – “You’re on vacation now; you can take care of him for a little while!”

From there on out Henry’s life dissolves into a series of dream sequences and surreal set-pieces. There is a low industrial hum under the surface of the soundtrack as he drifts through real or imaginary experiences involving his neighbor (Judith Anna Roberts credited as “Beautiful Girl Across The Hall”), a cabaret singer (Laurel Near) with hamster-like puffed-out cheeks who appears on a stage from deep within Henry’s radiator – “Lady in the Radiator” who sings “In Heaven”, and the ginormously overwhelming “Man in the Planet” (Jack Fisk) who haunts the film from beginning to end. As bizarre as this all appears, the film’s title is surprisingly from one of the more linear tangents – Henry dreams of his severed head being sold to a factory and being processed into pencil erasers.

Though it was shot over 6 years in the 70’s not one frame looks tied to that period. Actually not one frame looks tied to any period – it exists in a time and world completely of its own creepy creation. The powerful draw of such bewildering and unpleasant aestetics is hard to explain; I thought often that I couldn’t believe anyone would pick this as their favorite movie but I’ve heard a number folks do just that. I have to take into account that having seen it for the first time just the other day may not be enough time to process the experience. For a first time director it is a incredible piece of work – Lynch has the most fascinating yet frustratingly obtuse filmography of any noted director over the last 30 years and seeing ERASERHEAD for the first time gives me a perspective on his work I was sadly lacking. The last half hour of the film I had to use the restroom but could not remove myself from my seat. I could not stand to have a broken viewing of the ERASERHEAD experience. It was an experience that I loved and hated; that was disgusting yet beautiful and one that I could do without ever seeing again but still am looking forward to revisiting.

* The Colony Theater in North Raleigh showed ERASERHEAD as part of their Cool Classics @ The Colony series and I was amused to see that they dug up a couple of old trailers of a few obscure 70’s flicks to screen beforehand. The first was for THE CHICKEN CHRONICLES which was Steve Guttenberg’s first film and the second was a Robbie Benson (a forgotten teen heart-throb) vehicle called DIE LAUGHING which also featured Bud Cort and Charles Durning. They were both hilarious additions to the marvelous mid-night movie-show.

More later…

Inland Empire Burlesque

“I was watching everything go around me as I was standing in the middle. Watching it like in a dark theater before they bring the lights up.” – Nikki Grace (Laura Dern) INLAND EMPIRE

I was surprised when I got the latest David Lynch film (released on DVD August 25th) from Netflix to see on the envelope that it was 172 minutes. Now, I’ve had a ‘love/WTF?’ relationship with the films of Lynch for a long time so I was a bit ambivalent about spending nearly 3 hours with Lynch’s particular brand of operatic weirdness. It turned out to be more than that of course, because I re-watched many parts in a futile attempt to really understand what exactly was going on. As many critics have said really understanding it is not the point. It’s supposed to wash over you or something like that. So let’s let it wash:

INLAND EMPIRE (Dir. David Lynch, 2006)

Writing about a David Lynch film can be one of the most intimidating tasks a critic can have. No straight plot description or analysis can be made and working out character motives or the real from the imaginary will leave one’s mind tangled up in Jungian knots. But I’ll roll up my sleeves and at least put on the table what I could decipher.

One narrative thread emerges early on out of the chaotic kaleidoscope of dream like imagery. It involves Lynch regular Laura Dern as an actress who accepts a part in what she and fellow actor Justin Theroux are told is a remake of a never completed Polish film named 47 – not completed that is because the two leads were murdered. After that premise is established the film disintegrates, or melts rather, into an endless seemingly random series of dream-like sequences.

In arguably the most abstract film-within-a-film in history the actors and the film itself become one another and the entire thing turns inside out and back again. Oh, and throw in a living room set with people with large rabbit heads with a laugh track and then another room with 60’s décor in which 9 casually dressed women (models/prostitutes?) who after some simplistic girls-talk break out into a spontaneous but still choreographed dance and lip synch number to “The Loco-motion”. Oh yeah – there are also scenes interspersed from what looks like a orange-hued Foreign film. Whew! That’s the best I can do!

Dern (who co-produced) does probably her best work here and that’s saying a lot for a project that mostly appears to require her to run around re-interpreting Munch’s painting ‘The Scream’ in every actor variation there is again and again. Grotesque Fellini-esque extreme close-ups dominate, non-sensical soundbites seep in from every corner of the screen (“it had something to do with the telling of time” somebody says at one point – uh, thanks) and while it was filmed on digital video the film nicely lives up to Lynch’s previous aesthetics. One can not casually watch INLAND EMPIRE – that would be like casually visiting somebody in prison.

So when the question comes down to whether I liked or disliked it, well trying to figure that out feels like deciding whether to give “thumbs-up or thumps-down” * to a Rorshach test. I can only say I found parts of it intensely absorbing and I cared about what was happening even if I didn’t always ‘get’ what was happening. Still it was a bit much and perhaps should have been edited down a tad. Of course though, that would probably be like cropping sections out of a Jackson Pollack painting.

*
“Thumbs up-thumbs down” is a registered trademark of Disney-ABC Domestic Television.

Okay! So while we are on the subject let’s take a look at :

THE DAVID LYNCH REPARATORY COMPANY ROLL CALL

Jeanne Bates ERASERHEAD (1977), MULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001)

Frances Bay BLUE VELVET (1986), WILD AT HEART (1990), TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) : Also episodes of Twin Peaks (1990).

Laura DernBLUE VELVET(1986), WILD AT HEART(1990), INLAND EMPIRE (2006)

Brad Dourif DUNE (1984) , BLUE VELVET (1986)

David Patrick KellyWILD AT HEART (1990), TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) : Also (again) episodes of Twin Peaks.

Diane LaddWILD AT HEART, INLAND EMPIRE : Film fun fact – Ladd who is Laura Dern’s real life mother has played Dern’s mother in 4 movies. WILD AT HEART was the best of them in my book (or on my blog).

David Lynch himself – Starting out in one of his short films THE AMPUTEE in 1974 playing an “unable and scared nurse” (IMDb) Lynch has not quite been a Hitchcockian cameo player but has shown up from time to time. In DUNE he made an uncredited appearance as “Spice worker”, he played FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole in the ill-fated TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME (Cole was a character he played in 6 episodes of the original TV series Twin Peaks), and though he cut himself out of LOST HIGHWAY he had shot some scenes of himself which he would have been credited as “Morgue Attendant”. How fitting.

Kyle MacLachlanDUNE (1984), BLUE VELVET (1986), TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992) Sure he’s known these days for toiling in television on shows like Sex and the City and Desperate Housewives after years of commercial movie dreck like THE FLINTSTONES and (gulp) SHOWGIRLS but back in the day MacLachlan was Lynch’s alter ego go-to guy. Especially with the Twin Peaks TV series which peaked (pun intended) long before the prequel-styled movie. I guess that’s when Lynch’s and MacLachlan’s association peaked as well. Sigh, those days will never be again.

Everett McGillDUNE, TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME, THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999) : Also various episodes of Twin Peaks.

Jack NanceERASERHEAD (1977) , DUNE (1984), BLUE VELVET (1986), WILD AT HEART (1990), TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME (1992), LOST HIGHWAY (1997) : One of Lynch’s most valued players – Nance played the lead in Lynch’s first full length feature ERASERHEAD and had a part in everything including many episodes of Twin Peaks TV series until his death in ’96. His last film was LOST HIGHWAY.

Isabella RosselliniBLUE VELVET(1986), WILD AT HEART : Rossellini dated Lynch from 1986-1991 making this entry a no-brainer.

William Morgan SheppardTHE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), WILD AT HEART (1990)

Harry Dean StantonWILD AT HEART, TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME, INLAND EMPIRE Seems perfectly suited for the world of Lynch so it’s nice to see him in IE. Hope he uses Stanton again.

Dean StockwellDUNE, BLUE VELVET – ditto.

Justin TherouxMULHOLLAND DRIVE (2001),INLAND EMPIRE According to Wikipedia “some think he has taken the place of Kyle MacLachlan as director David Lynch’s doppelgänger/Protagonist” but yet again there’s that dreaded [citation needed] – damn you non-source referencing Wikipedia contributors!

Jack WalshERASERHEAD, THE STRAIGHT STORY (1999)

Grace Zabriskie – WILD AT HEART, TWIN PEAKS : FIRE WALK WITH ME, INLAND EMPIRE

That’s enough Lynching for now.

More later…