A kind of spiritual sequel (and cautionary counterpoint) to Hopper’s own Easy Rider, OUT OF THE BLUE chronicles the idealism of the sixties decline into the hazy nihilism of the 1980’s. Don Barnes (Dennis Hopper) is a truck driver in prison for drunkenly smashing his rig into a school bus. Linda Manz (Days of Heaven) plays Cebe, his daughter, a teen rebel obsessed with Elvis and The Sex Pistols. Her mother (Sharon Farrell) waitresses, shoots up drugs and takes refuge in the arms of other men. Cebe runs away to Vancouver’s punk scene and ends up on probation under the care of psychiatrist Raymond Burr. After Don’s release, the family struggles to re-connect before the revelation of dark secrets leads to a harrowing conclusion. The driving force behind this long overdue restoration and redemption are John Alan Simpson and Elizabeth Karr and they join us for a conversation on where OUT OF THE BLUE fits into the filmography of outlaw artist Dennis Hopper and why film lovers should be celebrating the re-release of this raw and ragged middle finger of a film from one of cinema’s great provocateurs.
The Backstory – Despite critical acclaim at its original Cannes premiere in 1980, OUT OF THE BLUE went unreleased because it was considered too bleak for U.S. audiences. John Alan Simon, then a film critic/journalist, rescued the film from the shelf, secured distribution rights and took it on the road with Dennis Hopper back in 1982 to art house theaters across the U.S. including a 17-week record-breaking run at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Boston and then NYC and Los Angeles theatrical releases. “It’s incredibly important to us that OUT OF THE BLUE be preserved for future generations to experience its emotional impact and as the artistic achievement that helped re-establish Dennis Hopper as an important American director,” commented Elizabeth Karr on behalf of Discovery Productions. “For me, this restoration project was pay-back for all I learned from Dennis Hopper when we originally took OUT OF THE BLUE on the road in 1982 after I rescued it from the shelf. He was an amazing artist and friend and OUT OF THE BLUE remains as unforgettable as he was and serves as an indelible tribute to the talents of Linda Manz,” John Alan Simon from Discovery Productions concluded.
Director’s statement – I was hired as an actor for ”Out of the Blue”. Two weeks in, I took over as director with full autonomy – because the 2 1⁄2 hours of film in the can was unusable. I rewrote the entire screenplay over the weekend and started shooting on Monday. In many ways, it’s maybe my best film. It’s about the society of North America; the family unit falling apart. I’m a social protest painter, I can’t help it. I don’t know much about the past, I’m not really interested in the future, or in space. I like to make things about what I see. For a person like me, it’s a miracle that I get the opportunity to direct a film. Because I don’t listen to anybody. I don’t have any collaborators except my actors. – Dennis Hopper
About Dennis Hopper: Born in Dodge City, Kansas, May 17,1936: Actor-director Dennis Hopper’s “Out of the Blue” premiered at Cannes in 1980. His directorial debut, “Easy Rider “(1969, Cannes Award “Best First Work,” was a countercultural landmark whose success helped spark the New Hollywood era of seventies filmmaking). His follow-up “The Last Movie” (1971) won the CIDALC Critics Prize Award at the Venice Film Festival. He went on to direct “Out of the Blue,”(1980) – Official Cannes selection; “Colors,” (1988) “Backtrack,” (1990) and “The Hot Spot,” (1990). His 200+ acting roles include “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Giant,” “Mad Dog Morgan,” “Apocalypse Now,” “Blue Velvet,” and “Hoosiers” (Academy Award nomination, Best Supporting Actor). Also a renowned photographer and artist, Hopper died in Los Angeles, May 29, 2010.
Discovery Productions, Inc. (John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr) finished the digital restoration of OUT OF THE BLUE to premiere at the Venice Film Festival. They undertook the project to preserve Dennis Hopper’s landmark film from only two 35mm prints of the movie in existence and to make it available to new audiences.
“This film is an impressive demonstration of mastery of mood and tone that affects and engages the viewer at an emotional level so deep and instinctive that it seems both primal and profound”
“n the late Dennis Hopper’s mind a better film than Bertolucci’s Luna and his own Easy Rider, the actor-director’s brilliant, still shockingly subversive 1980 cherry bomb is as sad and unsettling as dysfunctional-family dramas come.” – Aaron Hillis, Village Voice