A couple of years ago, it was reported that David Lynch was opening a nightclub in Paris called Club Silencio. While it was interesting, we were kind of bummed, because it had already been five years since “Inland Empire,” and just like now, there’s barely been a peep about a new feature film from the director. And so at the time, we drafted a list entitled 5 Things We’d Rather See David Lynch Do Than Open His ‘Mulholland Drive’ Club in Paris, and right at the top was “Lynch Resurrects ‘Ronnie Rocket.’ ” And it seems it could possibly, maybe, sort of, potentially happen. But first a little background.
Way, way back circa the late ’70s/early ’80s, Lynch had just released “Eraserhead” to great acclaim and was figuring out what was next, and he started work on “Ronnie Rocket.” As always, it’s a bizarro tale that we’ll let Wikipedia sum up rather nicely:
Ronnie Rocket concerned the story of a detective seeking to enter a mysterious second dimension, aided by his ability to stand on one leg. He is being obstructed on this quest by a strange landscape of odd rooms and a threatening train; while being stalked by the “Donut Men”, who wield electricity as a weapon. In addition to the detective’s story, the film was to show the tale of Ronald d’Arte, a teenage dwarf, who suffers a surgical mishap which leaves him dependent on being plugged into an electrical supply at regular intervals; this dependence grants him an affinity over electricity which he can use to produce music or cause destruction. The boy names himself Ronnie Rocket and becomes a rock star, befriending a tap-dancer named Electra-Cute.
Who wouldn’t want to see Lynch direct that project, right? Well, after “Eraserhead” he shifted to “The Elephant Man” instead, but this was always brewing in the background. Heavyweights like Francis Ford Coppola and Dino De Laurentiis (“Dune,” “Blue Velvet“) were lined up as producers at various points, but the movie never got made. And Lynch even had actor MIchael J. Anderson lined up to lead, but wound up moving on and using him in “Twin Peaks” instead. The project has long been considered resigned to the dustbin of time, but it seems it’s still kicking around.
The always fascinating Lynch recently sat down for an interview with Bomb, and when asked if that movie was still a possibility, he confirmed that it was, but cautioned that idea might be out of date and finding locations might prove problematic. “Yes, it is. But ‘Ronnie Rocket’ is set in the world of the smokestack industry, and this is a world that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said. “It was still really alive in the ’50s and ’60s, but this industry is going away. And then a thing happened. This thing called graffiti. Graffiti to me is one of the worst things that has happened to the world. It completely ruined the mood of places. Graffiti kills the possibility to go back in time and have the buildings be as they were. Cheap storm windows and graffiti have ruined the world for ‘Ronnie Rocket.’ “
That being said, he’s always had doubts about the movie itself. “…it was never made partly because I didn’t feel it would go over, and partly because I feel the script needs more work,” he added.
Basically, don’t hold your breath, and Lynch concedes that his ability to find financing is now harder than ever, especially since “Inland Empire” was his first movie that actually lost money for distributors. “It has become more difficult. Cinema owners want to fill their theaters and the audiences that go to the theater these days like big entertainment,” he said. “Unfortunately, I’m not making that kind of big entertainment that the people seem to like.”
So, we’ll just have to keep patiently waiting and hope that the script Lynch is reportedly working on manifests into something viable, or that he dusts off “Ronnie Rocket” and finally gets into something he feels will work. For now, just keep listening to his music…. And read the rest of that Bomb interview for Lynch’s thoughts on “Dune,” the test screening reaction to “Blue Velvet” and the story behind his character Gordon Cole in “Twin Peaks.”