Blue Velvet
Dennis Hopper, Isabella Rossellini, ...
Credit: Blue Velvet: Everett Collection

Dennis Hopper made our list of 10 best Oscar-snubbed performances

He got a supporting-actor nomination — his lone nod to date — for appearing in ”Hoosiers” the very same year, but who talks much about ”Hoosiers” now (outside of Indiana)? The Hopper character most likely to have left a permanent scar on your cerebral cortex is Frank Booth, the profane, fabric-swatch-loving sadist who lurks in the alternate-universe backwaters of ”Blue Velvet.” Before writer-director David Lynch unleashed Frank, we’d never seen a villain inflict quite such a queasy mix of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse on a victim. It’s still hard to watch Frank’s initial tryst with singer Dorothy Vallens, who, as played by Isabella Rossellini, seems both terrified and turned on. And as Frank swigs Pabst Blue Ribbon and huffs nitrous oxide, it’s also hard not to think about Hopper’s own battles with drugs and booze, adding to the tightrope tension. Improbably, Hopper finds a kernel of humor in Frank’s inchoate rage. But we freeze in our seats, imagining Frank reading our thoughts, turning and snarling ”Funny how, f—er?”

Blue Velvet
  • Movie
  • 120 minutes