Writer and director Tom DiCillo took a hammer to the set created for Johnny's apartment to make it look as dilapidated as he wanted. Near the end of filming, the fire department ordered them to leave the building, as it was too unsafe to go inside. See more »
When Johnny takes the pistol cartridge out of the coffee cup and loads it into the revolver, you can see that the primer has a dent in it. This indicates that the cartridge has already been used, and that a bullet was simply pressed into the case, creating a dummy prop round. See more »
[to the hand]
Cut the caveman act man, don't you know you hold onto something tightest with an open hand?
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The new DVD from Second Sight in the UK features no voiceover intro, outro, and a scene that was cut from the original film. The scene takes place at the end of the film when Johnny runs out to find his shoe. He stops at the bar and runs into Freak Storm. He tells Freak that he doesn't have a place to stay so Freak offers for him to stay with over at his place. When Johnny walks over to Freaks table, he sees Freak with Darlette. Johnny leaves and it cuts back to the original cut of the film. See more »
an odd duck of a movie, not laugh out loud but not fully dramatic, in a weird nether-region in the middle
Johnny Suede is like underground-filmmaking lite. It comes almost around the end of that era of New York City filmmaking that started many years before with more radical types like Andy Warhol and Jack Smith, and continued on with Jim Jarmusch (whom director Tom DiCillo worked for at one time), Betty Gordon and the guys that made New York Beat Movie. It's something about the beat of the street that DiCillo is interested in, at least in some part. But at the same time his lead figure is played by Brad Pitt, and it's like the slightly dim-witted rockabilly version of Henry from Eraserhead. It's nowhere near as bizarro as that, but DiCillo does try to be sure. He even has his intrepid would-be lady's man walking around a downtown NYC that looks as run-down as could be at the time, right before the city got a little more gentrified. It's a place with oddball rock n' rollers and street bums, midgets and painters, and oddball types of other varieties.
If it isn't entirely great it's because the film inhabits a strange region where it's not entirely underground, and could never be something mainstream despite its young star (who had just finished being female eye-candy in Thelma & Louise). Pitt is very good in the role though, taking up a character who isn't quite as stupid as he looks, but not intelligent enough to live in the "real" world. He's more into being a kind of hunky rockabilly guy, Ricky Nelson his idol, his huge pompadour the envy of anyone except for Nick Cave's character Freak Storm, also with an impressive head of hair. Like a real 'indie' movie there isn't too much of a plot: Suede gets a pair of shoes that kind of define him, tries to make a band that doesn't work out, paints to make ends meet, falls in love with one girl who dumps him for another and dates another (Catherine Keener) whom loves him dearly but who he treats badly.
What we have then is a movie without much of a story, and without much of a character that is iconic in ways that these indie films need to be. So why praise it so? Because of DiCillo's vision, and because Pitt does give the character what he needs as far as being real and raw enough to be taken seriously. He's a lunkhead, but not a bad person, kind of innocent and at his most vulnerable like a little puppy who needs help finding a woman's privates. It's a heady mix of grungy romance and some delirious dreams, some more touching than others. It could even be considered like a more "conventional" cousin to Eraserhead, where dreams and reality sometimes are indistinguishable to its protagonist, and whose direction in love and life is uncertain. If it's a little too light in the loafers to be fully embraced it may be expected as a first feature.
It's a fine jumping-off pad artistically for both its director (later to do the great Living in Oblivion) and of course its star, not to mention a very beautiful Catherine Keener and a perfectly weird Nick Cave.
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