Dennis Hopper’s third film as a director is OUT OF THE BLUE. It’s not as famous as EASY RIDER or infamous as THE LAST MOVIE, the film that almost ended his career, but it’s a powerful one just the same.
It stars Linda Manz (Days of Heaven, The Wanderers, The Game) as Cindy Cebe Barnes, Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet, Apocalypse Now) as Don Barnes, Sharon Farrell (Night of the Comet, The Stunt Man) as Kathy Barnes, Don Gordon (Bullitt, The Exorcist III) as Charlie and Raymond Burr (Godzilla, Rear Window) as Dr. Brean.
This release of the film is a 4K restoration that is so good, it looks like you are watching the original reels in 1980. The restoration is by Discovery Productions, headed by John Allen Simon and Elizabeth Karr.
It’s a film made in Hopper’s distinctive style, it’s partly cinema verite and partly a stream of consciousness ride. Linda Manz is particularly great as the young Cebe, driven by pain and hurt, with a mask of toughness over her all too vulnerable face. Hopper wisely ceded most of the movie to Manz and, in fact, took over as writer and director when the original writer/director’s rushes were deemed unacceptable. After the debacle reception of his second film THE LAST MOVIE, he leaped at the chance to make another movie and rewrote the script in one weekend and proposed himself as a replacement. It is said that he tailored the script to Manz’s strengths as an actress and it shows. She’s the heart of the film. Confused and full of despair and in full tilt rebellion against everything. She’s the prototype of the teenage girl without hope with a matched pair of bad and irresponsible parents who is unknowingly drawn to the chaos of rock and roll and punk. If she can’t have love, she will have destruction.
The supporting cast does a wonderful job of supporting Manz and either throwing the chaos of her life into sharp relief, the few characters who are stable, or throwing fuel on her fire. Farrell is an addict and non-functional mother who craves love from her child but won’t protect her. Hopper’s Don is the true source of the chaos and pain in Cebe’s life, but she’s still a child who craves the love she needs from both of her parents, but especially from her adored and rebellious father. Two chaotic users created a child who can only see worth in anger and rebellion. She relates more to rock stars than anyone else in her life and is always alone even in a room full of people.
It shows the ugly side of families and parenting that I know very well. It is fun and shows the attraction of darkness and chaos. Both of these things are exhilarating. It’s easy to see stability and kindness as weakness and or to find those things boring. It’s the trap that many have fallen into and some never emerge from. But OUT OF THE BLUE doesn’t get as dark as some films that have attempted to tell similar stories until it does. OUT OF THE BLUE doesn’t have anything to prove, like some of those other films, it simply tells the story in an authentic and organic way.
OUT OF THE BLUE is as haunting as the Neil Young song that it is named for. Indeed, there is more to this picture than what meets the eye.