Frank Booth (Blue Velvet)
|First appearance||Blue Velvet|
|Portrayed by||Dennis Hopper|
Role in the film
A psychopathic gangster, drug dealer and pimp, Frank is the central figure of Lumberton, North Carolina's criminal underworld. He kidnaps singer Dorothy Vallens' husband and son, holding them hostage to force Dorothy to satisfy his sadomasochistic sexual urges. When he is with Dorothy, he exhibits a kind of split personality: "Daddy", a sadist who beats and demeans her; and "Baby", a child who ritualistically rapes her while begging her to gag him with a piece of blue velvet cloth. His sexual arousal is highlighted by fits of violent rage, enhanced by inhaling an unidentified gas from a tank.
Frank kills Dorothy's husband and cuts off his ear, which is found by college student Jeffrey Beaumont. While investigating the case, Jeffrey spies on Frank abusing Dorothy, and sees that Dorothy actually enjoys being brutalized. Frank catches Dorothy and Jeffrey together days later and forces them to accompany him to the apartment of Suave Ben, his crony who is holding Dorothy's son. Ben lip-syncs a performance of Roy Orbison's "In Dreams", sending Frank into maudlin sadness, then rage. Frank takes Jeffrey to a lumber yard and kisses Jeffrey's face, intimidates him, and then savagely beats him to the overture of "In Dreams". He then beats Dorothy within an inch of her life, and dumps her, naked, on Jeffrey's lawn.
Jeffrey follows Frank to his hideout, where he finds the corpse of Dorothy's husband and the "Yellow Man" – Det. Tom Gordon, whom Frank has lobotomized. Jeffrey hides in the closet again, this time armed with a gun. Frank kills the Yellow Man and attacks Jeffrey, who shoots him in the head and kills him.
Booth's lines and extensive use of the word "fuck" are frequently referenced in pop culture. The line, "Don't you fucking look at me!" was voted by Premiere Magazine as one of the "100 Greatest Quotes in Cinema", and was sampled by electronic act Faultline for use in the title track of the album Closer, Colder. Industrial group Pigface sampled one of Booth's lines for use in the remix song "Sick Asp Fuck." Samples of Frank speaking are strewn throughout Mr. Bungle's self-titled album. Most notably, the track "Squeeze me Macaroni" samples Frank's lines "Man, where's the fucking beer, man?" and "One thing I can't fucking stand is warm beer, makes me fucking puke!"
When hosting Saturday Night Live, Dennis Hopper appeared in a skit as Frank Booth, hosting a game show titled "What's That Smell?", which he opened with Booth's line "Hello, neighbor."
In a 2011 interview with Rolling Stone, David Lynch was asked "Who is a more dangerous gentleman, Frank Booth or Marcellus Santos?" and Lynch replied "That's a good question. I'd rather hang with Frank Booth. I'd rather chill with him, and wait for a booty call, than with Marcellus."
- The character ranks #36 on AFI's list of the top 50 film villains of all time.
- Premiere magazine listed Frank Booth, played by Dennis Hopper, as #54 on its list of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time, calling him "the most monstrously funny creations in cinema history".
- Empire magazine placed Frank Booth as the 67th Greatest Film Character of all time.
- "Don't you fucking look at me!" was voted by Premiere Magazine as one of the "100 Greatest Quotes in Cinema".
The part of Frank Booth was originally offered to Willem Dafoe and Richard Bright, who both turned it down. When Hopper read the script, he called director David Lynch and said, "You have to let me play Frank! Because I am Frank!"
Robert Loggia had expressed interest in playing the role of Frank Booth. He showed up for an audition, unaware that Dennis Hopper had already been cast, and proceeded to wait for three hours, growing increasingly agitated. Upon seeing Lynch and learning of Hopper's casting, Loggia launched into a profanity-laden rant, which remained in Lynch's head for years. Loggia, years later, received a phone call from Lynch requesting his performance for antagonist Mr. Eddy in his 1997 psychological thriller Lost Highway. His tirade would eventually become Mr. Eddy's road rage scene.
Throughout the film, Frank Booth uses a medical mask and tube to inhale some kind of stimulant from an aerosol canister. The identity of this gas is a subject of controversy. Lynch's script specified helium, to raise Booth's voice and have it resemble that of an infant. However, during filming, Hopper, an experienced drug user, claimed to have insight into Booth's choice of drug, and said that helium was inappropriate. Lynch later explained the change:
|“||I'm thankful to Dennis, because up until the last minute it was gonna be helium — to make the difference between 'Daddy' and the baby that much more. But I didn't want it to be funny. So helium went out the window and became just a gas. Then, in the first rehearsal, Dennis said, 'David, I know what's in these different canisters.' And I said, 'Thank God, Dennis, that you know that!' And he named all the gases.||”|
- "AFI's 100 Heroes & Villains". American Film Institute. June 2003. Retrieved 2007-02-12.
- Prato, Greg. "David Lynch's First Solo Album is on 'Crazy Clown Time'" Rolling Stone. August 18, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-05.
- "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time". Premiere. Retrieved 2008-03-26.