According to Roger Ebert, when Out of the Blue “premiered at the 1980 Cannes Film Festival, it caused a considerable sensation, and Linda Manz was mentioned as a front-runner for the best actress award. But back in North America, the film’s Canadian backers had difficulties in making a distribution deal, and the film slipped through the cracks.”
What a shame.
One of only seven movies directed by Hopper — there’s also Colors, Chasers, Catchfire, The Hot Spot, Easy Rider and The Last Movie — this time in the director’s chair wasn’t planned. Originally hired just to act, the film nearly was canceled when he asked for the opportunity to rewrite it over a weekend.
What a joy.
Out of the Blue isn’t about Hopper’s character — an alcoholic truck driver who kills a bus full of children in an accident that’s repeated numerous times, growing more violent with each remembrance — but it’s about his daughter, played by Manz, who is full of bile toward everyone and everything, loving only Elvis, her father and punk rock.
Hopper considered this movie a follow-up to Easy Rider and tells what would have likely happened to the characters from that film ten years later. And it really is ten years (actually eleven) later, a time past the New Hollywood, as Hopper was just struggling to re-enter the world of acting after getting noticed all over again in Apocalypse Now.
After this movie, Hopper would pull off one of his most out there moments — and that’s saying something — blowing himself up in a coffin using 17 sticks of dynamite during an “art happening” at the Rice University Media Center before disappearing into the Mexican desert and finally entering drug rehabilitation. After Rumble Fish, The Osterman Weekend and Blue Velvet, Hopper finally was accepted back.
At this point, he was still lost in the wilderness but making astounding art while there. Linda Manz is all punk rock swagger, even if she isn’t sure what it all means. And the ending is violent and pointless and exactly how it should all end. Along the way, you get great performances from Sharon Farrell and Raymond Burr to compliment Manz and Hopper.
Man, this movie.
Working from the original 35mm negative restored by Discovery in 2010, John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr’s Discovery Productions undertook the digital scan and mastering of Out of the Blue to premiere as an official selection at the Venice Film Festival in 2019, preserving Hopper’s landmark film to make it available to new audiences.
Not that many saw it in the past. Luckily, 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.