10 May 2008

It's hard to believe that more than two years have passed since I last saw Blue Velvet on the big screen, but this weekend, it's playing at midnight at Landmark Sunshine, a theater that may be one of the great unsung treasures of New York moviegoing. (In the past year alone, I've seen Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Pink Floyd the Wall at the Sunshine, and in two weeks, they'll be playing The Shining.) I went to see Blue Velvet last night, and I can say that the Sunshine has provided close to the perfect set of conditions for seeing this movie—large screen, nice auditorium, gorgeous print. The sound could be a little sharper, perhaps, but since this movie has some of the most challenging sound design of any film ever made, all things considered, the sound crew has done commendable work on what had to have been a rush job.

Watching Blue Velvet again, I was struck for the first time by the work of one of its unsung heroes: Duwayne Dunham, the editor, who also edited Return of the Jedi and Wild at Heart and went on to direct important episodes of Twin Peaks, as well as Little Giants and Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey. (That's one hell of a resume.) Although it's impossible to say for sure, I have a hunch that Dunham was responsible for pulling this movie into its current shape. A glance at the original screenplay, as well as the deleted scenes on the DVD, reveal that a lot of extra material, some extraordinary, some naive, was shot and cut. The final version of the film moves from one astonishing set piece to another, going from high point to high point almost without interruption. Nothing that David Lynch has done before or since matches Blue Velvet's focus and power, and Dunham may be largely responsible for this.

At the moment, Dunham doesn't seem to be doing much, spending his time directing TV movies and contributing to special features on the Twin Peaks box set. Would a reunion be too much to ask?

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