And yet, Lynch is correct: Not a single one of these deleted scenes feels “right” for the Blue Velvet we know and love (or would improve it for those who don’t)… with maybe the exception of a chilling moment involving Jeffrey, Frank, and a near-wordless phone call. But watching the scenes is an entertaining and illuminating experience for Lynchophiles and armchair cineastes, and reminds us that masterpieces are ultimately made in the editing room. There’s a long scene set in a scuzzy strip joint with Frank being Frank – which is to say, being a brutal, foul-mouthed bully – that feels redundant, given the plethora of other, better scenes demonstrating Frank’s pathology and capacity for evil. (But enjoy the blind blues man who scats a song out of dog barks and the topless woman with light bulb pasties.) Many of the scenes possess that very vibe of gratuitousness that the final cut somehow avoids. There’s a sequence where Jeffrey and Sandy go to a club to watch singer-with-secrets Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) perform, but must first sit through some peculiar opening acts, including a dog that eats from a bowl for a really, really, really long time. There’s also another block of scenes that show Jeffrey attending a party at Oak Lake College and then receiving the news that brings him back to his hometown of Lumberton, the “log capitol of the world.” It’s tempting to imagine where this sequence might have fallen in the movie, but if it would have been placed in the most logical spot — right after the film’s memorable War of the Ants prologue — it would ruined the inspired radio jingle segue (“Logs! Logs! Logs! Lumberton, U-S-AAAAAAA!”) that connects the prelude to the stretch of scenes in which Jeffrey visits the hospital and then discovers the severed ear in the tall weeds of an abandoned lot.
Of course, this analysis presumes to know how Lynch would have used those scenes. Lynch himself doesn’t know, and certainly wouldn’t say if he did: For him, the only version of Blue Velvet that he wants living in our memory is the one he edited together with full control over the final print — a right that he obtained from financier Dino De Laurentiis by agreeing to take less money. “I can’t stop people from wondering,” he says. “I think the secret to me is to enjoy the scenes on their own and let the film be what it ended up being.” Does that mean that Lynch does not like the idea of “deleted scenes” in general? “No, I like sharing that with the audience, as long as the scenes stay separate and are seen on their own,” says Lynch, who expressed a final thought about the footage via a typically offbeat analogy. “Some people flunk out of school, but are still very interesting people. They’re not in the class that goes ahead, but maybe you’d like to go visit them.”
We have more David Lynch for you: Later this week in our Music Mix blog, the director talks with EW about his debut album, Crazy Clown Time, in which the director plays the blues… and sings of bad dentistry.