7 Films That David Lynch Turned Down


Let us take a moment to consider the career of David Lynch.

As we all know, David Lynch is one of America’s most unique and idiosyncratic directors, an unapologetic surrealist whose films always seem to come from a very dark and very personal place.  He began his career with Eraserhead and was then brought to Hollywood by Mel Brooks so that he could direct The Elephant Man.  Following the huge success of The Elephant Man, Lynch signed a contract with Dino De Laurentiis and directed Dune (a movie that Lynch later said was as close as he ever came to “selling out”) and the far better received Blue Velvet.

After the success of Blue Velvet, Lynch turned to television.  Twin Peaks was, in its way, Blue Velvet adapted for network television.  While people across the world were debating who killed Laura Palmer, Lynch won the 1990 Palme d’Or with Wild At Heart.  Frustrated with the ABC’s attempts to interfere with the direction of Twin Peaks, Lynch became less involved with the televisions series and it was canceled after its second season.  Lynch’s cinematic prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, was released an initially tepid response, though — like much of Lynch’s work — it has since been positively reevaluated.

In 1997, Lynch directed his most surreal film yet, Lost Highway.  He then shocked critics by directing the G-rated The Straight Story and proving that his surreal vision could be heart-warming as well as frightening.  When Lynch couldn’t get a network to commit to his proposed second televisions series, Lynch filmed some more footage and released the pilot as a feature film.  Mulholland Drive has gone on to be recognized as one of the greatest films of all time and it also earned Lynch his third Oscar nomination for Best Director.

Despite the success of Mulholland Drive, Lynch still struggled to find the financial backing for the films that he wanted to make.  In 2006, he directed Inland Empire, a film that’s as surreal as any that he’s ever directed and also, in its way, one of the most emotionally powerful films ever made.  Again, much like Fire Walk With Me and Lost Highway, Inland Empire was initially dismissed by critics but it has since been rediscovered.

Eat My Fer by David Lynch

Following Inland Empire, Lynch focused on painting, music, and promoting meditation and it was feared that he had retired from filmmaking.  In 2017, he brought Twin Peaks: The Return to Showtime and, for a few brief months, we were again enraptured by his genius.

David Lynch has directed ten feature films.  (Eleven, if you count Twin Peaks: The Return.  I do.)  He has one of the greatest filmographies of any living director.  But what about the films that David Lynch didn’t make?  In his memoir, Room to Dream, Lynch wrote about not only the projects for which he couldn’t find backing but also about several films that he was offered but turned down.

Here are a few of the films David Lynch turned down:

  1. Frances (1982)

Frances Farmer was a Golden Age actress who was famous for her refusal to conform to the demands of 1940s society.  She was outspoken in her political views.  She drank heavily.  She was open about her drug use.  Following the end of her affair with playwright Clifford Odets, Farmer had a nervous breakdown and was sent to a draconian mental hospital where she was horrifically abused, suffered through electroshock treatments, and was eventually lobotomized before being released in 1950.

It’s a pretty disturbing story and one can imagine that Lynch could have made a powerful film out of it, especially as Frances Farmer is the archetype for the troubled women who are often at the center of his films.  Mel Brooks, who also produced The Elephant Man, produced Frances and was hopeful that Lynch would direct it.  However, Lynch had already signed a contract with Dino De Laurentiis and was not available.  Frances was eventually directed by Graeme Clifford, who took a far more straight-forward approach to the material than Lynch would have.

2. Return of the Jedi (1983)

This is probably the most famous of the films that David Lynch turned down.  George Lucas was a fan of Eraserhead and, in the early 80s, Lynch was riding high as a result of having received his first Oscar nomination for The Elephant Man.  Reportedly, Lucas actually did offer the film to Lynch.  Lynch turned him down, saying that he felt that the film would ultimately have been seen as being Lucas’s film and not the film of whoever was hired to direct it.  Instead, Lynch directed another sci-fi epic, Dune.  

Lucas reportedly then offered the film to another maverick director, David Cronenberg.  After Cronenberg turned it down, Lucas settled on Richard Marquand.

3. Tender Mercies (1983)

Robert Duvall won his first Oscar for this film, in which he played an alcoholic country singer who finds redemption with a Texas widow and her son.  This rather gentle film may seem like the furthest thing one would associate with Lynch but I personally think that David Lynch could have done a good job with it.  Tender Mercies is a film that feels like it might be distantly related to The Straight Story and Lynch’s unapologetic love of Americana would have served the story well.

Lenny Von Dohlen, who played a small role in Tender Mercies, later played the shut-in who Laura Palmer’s diary in Twin Peaks.

4. Manhunter (1986)

Also known as Red Dragon, this film was the first to feature Dr. Hannibal Lecter.  The film was offered to Lynch by Dino De Laurentiis.  Lynch turned it down so he could concentrate on Blue VelvetManhunter was instead directed by Michael Mann, who — it must be said — filled the film with surreal imagery that occasionally felt very Lynchian.  Considering that Lynch’s films are full of flamboyantly evil men, it’s hard not to be curious what Lynch would have done with characters like Hannibal Lecter and Francis Dollarhyde.

5. American Beauty (1999)

American Beauty was one of the many scripts that was sent to Lynch in the 90s.  Lynch turned the film down and it was instead made by Sam Mendes.  American Beauty went on to win Best Picture.  That said, it’s also one of the most pretentious film ever made and the fact that some people love it will never cease to amaze me.  Interestingly, one of the main problems with the film is that, as a director, Mendes often tries too hard to capture the mood and feeling that Lynch was later able to so effortlessly create in Twin Peaks: The Return.  Lynch probably could have made a decent film out of American Beauty but, fortunately for us, he devoted his attention to Mulholland Drive instead.

6. The Ring (2002)

This film was offered to Lynch but he turned it down. (Interestingly enough, when the film was made, it starred Naomi Watts, who had just appeared in Mulholland Drive and who went on to appear in both Inland Empire and Twin Peaks: The Return.)  I would have been curious to see what Lynch would have done with the killer video.

7. Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

In 1999, Lynch was among the directors who Edward Norton approached about directing a film version of the just-published detective novel, Motherless Brooklyn.  Lynch, who was working on Mulholland Drive, turned Norton down.  20 years later, Motherless Brooklyn was finally made into a film, with Norton starring and directing.

It’s hard to guess what the future holds for David Lynch.  There have been reports that Lynch will no longer make films though Lynch himself says that his disillusionment with cinema has been overstated.  There are also rumors that Lynch might give us another season of Twin Peaks.  Who knows?  Even if David Lynch spends the rest of his days promoting transcendental meditation and never again steps behind a camera, no one can deny that he’s given us some of the most amazing and important films of all time.  Happy birthday, Mr. Lynch!

 

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: Special David Lynch Edition


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

Today is David Lynch’s birthday!  The master of American surrealism and dream-like noir is 74 years old.  One of my fondest memories of the past ten years comes from those glorious few months in 2017 when Leonard, Ryan, Jeff and I watched and analyzed every single episode of Twin Peaks and Twin Peaks: The Return.  It was not only a chance to reacquaint ourselves with a master but it was also a lot of fun as well.  I mean, Lynch may be best known as a surrealist but he’s also a damn good director.

It’s been three years since the final episode of Twin Peaks and we’re still debating that final scream.

In honor of Lynch’s birthday, it time for 4 Shots From 4 Films!  It’s difficult to do one of these for David Lynch, not because it’s hard to find material but instead because it’s so difficult to narrow it down to just four shots.  Lynch has been making films from the 70s and, visually, every single one of them is stunning.  For this post, I’ve limited myself to the work that Lynch has released in the 21st century.

(And yes, Twin Peaks: The Return counts as a movie!)

4 Shots From 4 Films

Mulholland Drive (2000, dir by David Lynch)

Inland Empire (2006, dir by David Lynch)

Twin Peaks The Return Part Three (2017, dir by David Lynch)

Twin Peaks: The Return Part 5 (2017, dir by David Lynch)

4 Shots From 4 Films: Eraserhead, The Hills Have Have Eyes, Shock Waves, Suspiria


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1977 Horror Films:

Eraserhead (1977, directed by David Lynch)

The Hills Have Eyes (1977, dir by Wes Craven)

Shock Waves (1977, dir by Ken Wiederhorn)

 

Suspiria (1977, dir by Dario Argento)

Scenes That I Love: Norma Accepts Ed’s Proposal in Twin Peaks: The Return (R.I.P. Peggy Lipton)


As this day comes to a close, I have some sad news to report.  The actress Peggy Lipton passed away earlier today, at the age of 72.  While one generation may know her best as a star of 1960s television and others know her for her marriage to legendary music producer Quincy Jones (and as the mother of Rashida Jones), I knew Peggy Lipton as Norma Jennings, one of the few characters to get a happy ending in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks: The Return.

Norma was the owner of the Double R Diner and, for the most part, one of the few stable residents of Twin Peaks.  While the rest of the town was collapsing around her, Norma could usually be found in a back booth, going over expense reports and continually proving herself to often be the lone voice of sanity in her hometown.

The love affair between Norma and Ed Hurley (Everett McGill) was a story that ran through both the original Twin Peaks and the Showtime revival.  One of the big moments in the revival came when Ed, having finally gotten Norma to agree to give him a divorce, finally asked Norma to marry him.  It’s perhaps the most unabashedly romantic scene to be found in David Lynch’s filmography.  (Lynch did the scene in one take and, according to Lipton, was in tears by the end of it.)  It’s a scene that’s wonderfully acted by both McGill and Lipton, with both actors saying so much without saying a word.

And here it is, a scene that I love from Part 15 of Twin Peaks: The Return:

 

6 Good Films That Were Not Nominated For Best Picture: The 2000s


Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 2000s.

Mulholland Drive (2001, dir by David Lynch)

David Lynch’s masterpiece may have started out as a failed pilot for a television show but, under his direction, it transformed into a hauntingly enigmatic mystery, one that is still being analyzed and debated to this very day.  David Lynch received an Oscar nomination for Best Director but the film itself was perhaps a bit too strange and unsettling to convince the Academy to give it the Best Picture nomination that it deserved.

Donnie Darko (2001, dir by Richard Kelly)

Mulholland Drive wasn’t the only film that proved to be too strange for the Academy.  Richard Kelly’s haunting Donnie Darko was also snubbed.  Apparently, we had good reason to doubt the Academy’s commitment to Sparkle Motion.

28 Days Later (2002, dir by Danny Boyle)

“Hello?”  Danny Boyle’s absolutely terrifying “zombie” film invited us to experience a world gone crazy and it pretty much convinced us that it was nowhere that we would ever want to visit.  Audiences were terrified.  Critics were stunned.  However, the Academy was unmoved and 28 Days Later went unnominated.

Inland Empire (2006, dir by David Lynch)

Needless to say, if Mulholland Drive was too strange for the Academy than there was no way that they were going to nominate David Lynch’s even more enigmatic companion piece.  Inland Empire is an unforgettable film featuring a great performance from Laura Dern.  The Academy should have nominated it for the dance scenes alone.

Zodiac (2007, dir by David Fincher)

Though it may not have been a box office hit, Zodiac is perhaps David Fincher’s best film, a true crime story that achieves a nightmarish intensity.  The film was probably a bit too dark for the Academy but it’s both chilling and unforgettable and it also features one of Robert Downey Jr.’s best performances.

The Dark Knight (2008, dir by Christopher Nolan)

I have to admit that I’m not as big a fan of The Dark Knight as some.  However, when you talk about infamous Oscar snubs, you have to mention The Dark Knight.  This film received several nominations and was one of the most popular films of the year.  When it was not nominated for Best Picture, the outcry was so great that the Academy changed the rules to allow more films to compete.  11 years later, Black Panther finally accomplished what The Dark Knight did not and it became the first comic book film to be nominated for best picture.

Up next, we wrap things up with the 2010s!

The monster from Mulholland Drive

6 Good Films That Were Not Nominated For Best Picture: The 1980s


Rob Lowe and Snow White perform at the 1989 Oscars

Continuing our look at good films that were not nominated for best picture, here are 6 films from the 1980s.

Out of the Blue (1980, dir by Dennis Hopper)

After spending several years in the cultural wilderness, Dennis Hopper directed his best film, this downbeat study of a young girl, her junkie mother, and her irresponsible father.  From the film’s first scene, in which Hopper crashes his truck into a school bus to the film’s explosive ending, Out of the Blue is a fascinating trip into the heart of American darkness.  It was definitely too dark for the Academy.

Fast Times At Ridgemont High (1982, dir by Amy Heckerling)

Fast Times would appear to take place in a totally different universe from Out of the Blue.  Still, it’s an unexpectedly intelligent look at growing up in the suburbs and it’s influenced practically every high school film that’s come after.  Plus, this may be the only movie in which Sean Penn was intentionally funny.  Despite good reviews and a cast full of future stars, Fast Times At Ridgemont High received not a single nomination.

Once Upon A Time In America (1984, dir by Sergio Leone)

Sergio Leone’s final film, this epic gangster film might be a look at how America grew and changed over the first half of the 20th Century.  It might be a trenchant critique of capitalism.  It might be an homage to the classic gangster films of the 30s.  Or it might just be a hallucination that Robert De Niro is having while visiting an opium den.  That critics are are still debating just watch exactly this film actually means says a lot about the power of Once Upon A Time In America.  However, because the film was originally released in a severely edited form, Once Upon A Time In America received not one nomination.

Brazil (1985, dir by Terry Gilliam)

Much like Once Upon A Time In America, Brazil is a brilliant film that was betrayed by the studio that distributed it.  Convinced that Terry Gilliam’s satire was too strange for American audiences, Universal Pictures initially released the film in a severely edited version.  Fortunately, Gilliam’s version was eventually released but the controversy undoubtedly hurt Brazil when it came time for the members of the Academy to select their nominees for Best Picture.

The Breakfast Club (1985, dir by John Hughes)

Perhaps the Academy understood just how unfair it was that Anthony Michael Hall had to write the essay while everyone else got either a makeover or a new romance.  For whatever reason, this classic high school film — perhaps the classic high school film — received not a single nomination.

Blue Velvet (1986, dir by David Lynch)

David Lynch was nominated for Best Director but the film itself proved to be just a bit too controversial for the Academy to give it a Best Picture nomination.  David Lynch described this film as being “the Hardy Boys In Hell” and it would have been an uncoventional, though very worthy, nominee for Best Picture.

Up next, in an hour or so, the 90s!

 

2018 In Review: Lisa’s Top 12 Non-Fiction Books


All day today, I’ve been posting my favorites (and least favorites) of 2018.  If you’ve missed the previous entries …. well, that’s kind of on you.

Anyway, we have now reached the part of our program where I list my top twelve non-fiction books.  There was actually quite a lot of good non-fiction published this year.  The list below is a nice mix of memoirs, politics, and true crime.  Read them all and then be sure to come back here and thank me.

Here’s the list!

  1. The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy by Daniel Kalder
  2. Room to Dream by David Lynch and Kristine McKenna
  3. Bachelor Nation: Inside the World of America’s Favorite Guilty Pleasure by Amy Kaufman
  4. You’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir by Parker Posey
  5. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell
  6. The Art of Horror Movies: An Illustraed History by Stephen Jones
  7. True Indie: Life and Death in Filmmaking by Don Coscarelli 
  8. Time Pieces: A Dublin Memoir by John Banville
  9. Blowing the Bloody Doors Off by Michael Caine
  10. The Contest: The 1968 Election and the War for America’s Soul by Michael Schumacher
  11. I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
  12. The Real Lolita: The Kidnapping of Sally Horner and the Novel That Scandalized the World by Sarah Weinman

I’ve got three more topics left to cover: music, television, and my favorite movies of the year.  For now, I need to take a small break and stretch my legs so expect to see the rest of my picks for the best of 2018 later tonight or tomorrow.

(Probably tomorrow, to be absolutely honest.)

Lisa Looks Back At 2018:

  1. Ten Worst Films of 2018
  2. The Best of Lifetime
  3. The Best of SyFy
  4. Lisa’s 10 Favorite Novels of 2018