Dennis Hopper had an interesting, but extremely spotty career as a filmmaker. His biggest hit was the 1969 cultural zeitgeist “Easy Rider.” But in my opinion, the best film that Hopper had any involvement with (aside from “Blue Velvet,” “True Romance” and “Apocalypse Now”) was 1980s “Out of the Blue.” Hopper was originally hired on just to act, but when the first-time director wasn’t delivering the goods during the first couple of weeks in production, Hopper rewrote the script and took over as director.
“Blue” is an ultra-bleak look at the collateral damage that alcoholism and drug abuse can have on a family. The lead character CeBe, brilliantly played by Linda Manz, is a lonely 14-year old girl with a chip on her shoulder and an obsession with Elvis and punk rock. Her father, played by Hopper, has been in prison for killing multiple children on a school bus in a drunk driving accident five years prior. Her mother, played by Sharon Farrell, is a waitress and heroin addict. Hopper’s character gets out of prison and for a brief moment, it looks like CeBe will finally have the normal life she has craved. But it’s not to be and the film gets increasingly dark and bleak, leading to a really horrific ending.
Needless to say, “Out of the Blue” is not a film you’d want to watch in a foul or depressed mood. It is THE definition of a “feel-bad” movie. However, the movie is brilliantly directed by Hopper, who really conveys the desolation of these characters and the world they inhabit. And the performances by Manz, Hopper, Farrell, and Don Gordon are all frighteningly real. Especially Manz. She plays a very angry character, an anger that masks a desperation for a normal family. The hopeful look in her eyes when she thinks things are going to work out is heartbreaking. “Blue” was in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival and Manz was talked about as a strong contender for the Best Actress prize that year (she lost to Anouk Aimee).
The trailer above gives a very strong flavor of what this movie is about. However, it’s definitely not safe for work given the subject matter.