With the 25th anniversary Blue-ray release of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), fans were treated to nearly an hour of deleted scenes that were long believed to be lost after the filmmaker was forced to hack away at his fabled 3 ½ to 4-hour rough cut. These scenes were later found by the dedicated MGM tech Darren Gross, who discovered the pristine footage in a Seattle warehouse after rummaging through inventories of companies that owned the film before his employers.
In regards to the long lost footage, the director stated, “It’s like the song ‘Amazing Grace.’ The footage was lost but now it’s found.” Although a large number of the deleted scenes are comprised of b-roll, suburban exteriors and awkward dramatic pauses, there’s no doubt that had this footage not been left on the cutting room floor, Blue Velvet could have been an entirely different film.
Notably, our first impression of Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) might be much different than our initial impression of him from the theatrical 2-hour version. Instead of first seeing Jeffrey walking through the field (where he later finds the severed ear) to visit his father in the hospital, we would have been first introduced to Jeffrey as he watches what could be potentially be a date rape from the shadows of a grungy basement.
Right away, this instills in the audience that Jeffrey is a voyeur and foreshadows later scenes where the unlikely hero watches Frank’s abusive behavior towards Dorothy (Isabella Rossellini) from the nightclub singer’s closet. This also reinforces the question that Sandy (Laura Dern) poses of whether Jeffrey is a detective or a pervert. If he were merely a pervert, Jeffrey probably would let the scenario in the basement unfold. Instead, Jeffrey steps in at the last moment, showing that, while he is curious, he does have a moral backbone.
What draws Jeffrey away this predicament is a telephone call from his mother, Mrs. Beaumont (Priscilla Pointer), who explains that his father has suffered a stroke. She also pressures Jeffrey into staying home for good, rather than just taking some time off from school while his father recovers. As Jeffrey is away from school, he tries to maintain a friendly relationship with his college girlfriend, whom he says he loves. However, their relationship slowly deteriorates through a series of phone calls.
Like many of the other characters, Mrs. Beaumont is developed much more in the deleted scenes. Not only is she overprotective, but she also manipulates her son. Her sister, Aunt Barbara (Frances Bay), is also featured much more in the newly discovered footage. Barbara is convinced that the Beaumont house is infested with terminates and eventually leaves the bodies of the insects that she kills for Jeffrey, almost as a cat would.
It is also ironic that Aunt Barbara acts as an exterminator, since the filmmaker uses insects to represent the dark side of life. This aspect of her character adds humor to her remark, “I don’t know how anyone could eat a bug,” as the robin triumphantly eats the unspecified insect at the conclusion of the film. Those born in the 90’s may know Francis Bay best as Grandma Gilmore from Adam Sandler’s golfing days and the rightful owner of the marble-rye that Jerry Seinfeld commits petty theft for in Seinfeld (1989 - 1998).
Besides the additional character development, the footage gives us more insight into the small town of Lumberton, where, besides work, the residents have little to do. As Jeffrey and Sandy wait for Dorothy to perform at the Slow Club, in typical Lynchian fashion, we are given the surreal image of a terrier eating from his bowl on stage.
Other scenes show an extended version of Jeffrey's and Dorothy’s night out with Frank (Dennis Hopper) and his gang; a suicide attempt by the troubled nightclub singer, which Jeffrey stops; and an awkward dinner party wherein Sandy’s boyfriend, Mike (Ken Stovitz), becomes jealous of her newfound friendship with Jeffrey.
“When it came time to compile the list of actors and extras from the Deleted Scenes, only the following names could be found," Lynch stated at the closing of the hour-long clip show. "I am so sorry that every name could not be found, and I want to apologize to everyone who was in these scenes and whose name is not in the credits. Everyone did such a great job.”
Still, the amount of found footage still isn’t enough to account for the legendary 3 ½ to 4-hour long version that the director originally intended. There also aren’t any publicized plans to re-release the film with the newly discovered scenes edited into the 1980’s classic. So, like Lynch’s famously unproduced film Ronnie Rocket, the epic, ultra-long version of Blue Velvet remains a figment of imagination for fans who hope to one day get a full window into the mind of the surrealist filmmaker.