A scene from the 1986 movie Blue Velvet, written by David Lynch.
IMDB Plot Summary: The discovery of a severed human ear found in a field leads a young man on an investigation related to a beautiful, mysterious nightclub singer and a group of criminals who have kidnapped her child.
In this scene, Frank (Dennis Hopper) having discovered Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) spending time with Frank’s love interest Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini), takes Jeffrey on a “joyride” with some of Frank’s thugs, Dorothy and a character known as Greasy Girl.
INT. FRANK'S CAR / DIRT ROAD - NIGHT Frank angrily swerves the car off onto a small dirt road bouncing down it, screeching to a halt near an orchard of trees. He turns violently around to Jeffrey. FRANK What are you lookin' at? JEFFREY Nothing. FRANK (locks eyes with Jeffrey; long pause) Don't look at me, Fuck. I shoot when I see the whites of the eyes. (takes helium) You like me? Jeffrey is quiet. FRANK (still high voice) Look at these. What are these? DOROTHY Come on, Frank. Let's go. Please. Frank is doing something to Dorothy's chest but Jeffrey can't see. FRANK Don't say PLEASE, Fuckhead. WHAT ARE THESE? DOROTHY Those are my breasts. FRANK Can I feel 'em? DOROTHY If you want to. Frank takes helium. FRANK Baby wants to pinch 'em. She winces and tries to pull away. FRANK (continuing) What's the matter? Give 'em back. They're just a little red, that's all. Let me feel 'em again. Come here. Frank pulls her over and starts to pinch her again. It really hurts her and she is frightened and in pain. JEFFREY Hey. Leave her alone. Frank pretends not to hear Jeffrey and pinches Dorothy's breasts real hard. She stifles a scream. Jeffrey gets mad. He hits Frank hard in the face. Everyone is deadly silent as Frank turns to Jeffrey. Frank stares at Jeffrey. FRANK NEXT! Out of the car fuck. HELP HIM OUT, RAYMOND!! EXT. FRANK'S CAR / DIRT ROAD - NIGHT Frank gets out and presses his face against the rear window. His distorted face is hideous. He opens the back door. Raymond and Paul grab Jeffrey and pull him out of the car. The Greasy Girl laughs nervously. DOROTHY Frank, he didn't mean it. Leave him alone. Come on. He didn't mean it. FRANK Shut up. Gimme your lipstick. (takes gas) Hey, pretty, pretty. Dorothy doesn't move fast enough so Frank dumps her whole purse out on the front seat and grabs the lipstick and a flashlight. He puts lipstick heavy onto his lips. While Raymond and Paul hold Jeffrey. Frank kisses Jeffrey all over the mouth. Jeffrey tries to hit Frank and pull away, but Raymond and Paul have a hold of him. Jeffrey looks very strange with these big blotches of red lipstick on his face and mouth. DOROTHY LEAVE HIM ALONE!! FRANK!! Frank slams the front door shut to muffle Dorothy. He grabs Jeffrey and presses his frightened face against the front window. Then, the back window. Then, he flops Jeffrey up on the hood with Paul's help and presses Jeffrey's face against the rear window. Inside the car, this show is crazy and scary. Then, Frank takes Jeffrey over to the side of the car again. FRANK (to Jeffrey) You're fuckin' lucky to be alive. LOOK AT ME! Raymond pulls Jeffrey's face back so he's looking at Frank. Dorothy and the Greasy Girl watch in terror. FRANK Don't be a good neighbor to her or I'm gonna send you a love letter. Straight from my heart, fucker. You know what a love letter is? It's a bullet, straight from my gun, fucker. Once you get a love letter from me, you're fucked forever. Understand, Fuck? JEFFREY Yes. FRANK I'll send you straight to hell, Fuck! Frank takes a small square of blue velvet out of his pocket and begins feeling Jeffrey's face with it. FRANK (continuing; breathing heavily) You feel good. Feel my muscles. Raymond makes Jeffrey raise his arm and Jeffrey feels Frank's biceps. FRANK (continuing) You like that? (to Raymond and Paul) Hold him tight for me. Suddenly Frank starts hitting Jeffrey in the face. Dorothy screams at the car window. CUT TO BLACK:
Here is the movie version of the scene:
The scene plays out pretty much as written with one major exception: The addition of the Roy Orbison song “In Dreams”. What is described in the script simply as this — “Frank takes a small square of blue velvet out of his pocket and begins feeling Jeffrey’s face with it” — has Frank echoing lines of dialogue from the song as it plays on the car tape player.
In dreams I walk with you. In dreams I talk to you.
In dreams you’re mine. All of the time we’re together
In dreams, In dreams.
It provides a level of homoeroticism that takes the scene from creepy… to really creepy. Combined with Greasy Girl shifting from the mood in the script — “watch in terror” — to her dancing on the car while Frank terrorizes Jeffrey, adding a darkly comic twist, what Lynch ends up with is a memorable scene.
Any Blue Velvet fans out there? The movie was released domestically on October 30, 1986, so it’s coming up on its 28th birthday. Arguably Lynch’s best movie, I think it’s about time for another screening.
One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.