David Lynch's first big-budget film (1980) confirmed the talent he showed in Eraserhead, though the picture itself is a strange trade-off between Lynch's personal themes—"the night world of obscure, disturbing sexual obsessions"—and the requirements of a middlebrow message movie. Lynch revives ancient avant-garde mannerisms—"dream images and swirling, dissolving montage sequences"—and makes them work again, brilliantly; he's less successful in the light of day, where the film bogs down in stagy, high-minded dialogue sequences. Despite the rich associations, the film finally makes little more of its central figure, "a hideously deformed young man," than an object of pity. With John Hurt and Anthony Hopkins. PG, 125 min.
Director: David Lynch
Writer: Sir Frederick Treves, Ashley Montagu, Christopher De Vore, Eric Bergren and David Lynch
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld, Mel Brooks and Jonathan Sanger
Cast: John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Freddie Jones, Michael Elphick, Hannah Gordon, Helen Ryan, John Standing, Dexter Fletcher, Lesley Dunlop and Phoebe Nicholls