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Lost Highway (1997)

After a bizarre encounter at a party, a jazz saxophonist is framed for the murder of his wife and sent to prison, where he inexplicably morphs into a young mechanic and begins leading a new life.

Director:

David Lynch
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1,920 ( 25)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Pullman ... Fred Madison
Patricia Arquette ... Renee Madison / Alice Wakefield
John Roselius John Roselius ... Al
Louis Eppolito Louis Eppolito ... Ed (as Lou Eppolito)
Jenna Maetlind Jenna Maetlind ... Party Girl
Michael Massee ... Andy
Robert Blake ... Mystery Man
Henry Rollins ... Guard Henry
Michael Shamus Wiles ... Guard Mike
Mink Stole ... Forewoman (voice)
Leonard Termo ... Judge (voice)
Ivory Ocean Ivory Ocean ... Guard Ivory
Jack Kehler ... Guard Johnny Mack
David Byrd David Byrd ... Doctor Smordin
Gene Ross ... Warden Clements
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Storyline

Fred Madison, a saxophonist, is accused under mysterious circumstances of murdering his wife Renee. On death row, he inexplicably morphs into a young man named Pete Dayton, leading a completely different life. When Pete is released, his and Fred's paths begin to cross in a surreal, suspenseful web of intrigue, orchestrated by a shady gangster boss named Dick Laurent. Written by <jdean@gslink.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Mystery | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for bizarre violent and sexual content, and for strong language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

France | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

15 January 1997 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Carretera perdida See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$15,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$212,710, 23 February 1997, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,796,699, 20 April 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Lynch said he has only recently (2002) realized what subconsciously inspired the film: the O.J. Simpson trial. He said that the trial was a major influence on his mind during the stage of writing this script, which deals with a man who was accused of killing his wife. Curiously enough, Lynch cast Robert Blake to play the Mystery Man, who is a major character in the film. Several years later, Blake was put on trial for killing his own wife. See more »

Quotes

[Pete, disturbed by the saxophone music on a radio, switches the channels]
Phil: What'd you change it for? I liked that.
Pete Dayton: Well, I don't!
Phil: I liked that.
See more »

Crazy Credits

A Real Trooper-Guadalupe Hurst See more »

Alternate Versions

An unconfirmed report has that a Director's Cut of the film exists which has a number of scenes deleted from the original 134 minute print. Some of the missing scenes include:
  • A dinner scene with Fred and Renee where Fred asks her where she was when he phoned her from the jazz club the night before, and when she says that she never left the house all evening, his suspicions of her cheating on him intensifies.
  • Another scene of a third videotape arriving at Fred and Renee's house where they watch it and catch a glimpse of a cold-faced Fred on one frame. They phone the detectives Al and Lou again who pay them another visit.
  • A scene set in the morgue where the attendant, George, prepares an autopsy on Renee's mutilated body where he is joined by a tuxedo-clad medical examiner and the examiner's girlfriend, Joyce, which is followed by a courtroom scene where Fred faints after hearing the jury forewoman read the guilty verdict and the judge's sentence of death, which is only heard in the original version.
  • A scene in a lingerie shop where two young women, Marian and Raquel, glimpsed only in the porno film at the end, talk about the Renee Madison murder and about the method of execution the state would use when they are interrupted by Andy to gesters for them to hurry up with their selections.
  • Another scene follows where Andy, Marian and Raquel are involved in a drugged-out threesome orgy at his house.
  • A prison scene where one inmate is shown being led out of his cell to the gas chamber with other prisoners taunting him and the guards preparing for the execution as if it was a formal gathering, plus another scene of Fred talking to the prison guards in the courtyard the next day.
  • A full scene of dialogue between the prison warden and Pete Dayton's parents, Candace and Bill, where they are told of their son's whereabouts and his physical condition where he has a hematoma on his forehead and blepharitis, redness around the eyes. Pete is then brought into the office where he doesn't respond to questions asked, and Bill and Candace are told that they can take him home. The warden then makes a statement to reporters about the disappearance of Fred Madison from the prison.
  • Extended scenes of dialogue between Pete and his friends Steve V, Teddy, Carl and Lanie on their arrival at his house where Lanie shows them a scar on her abdomen from an operation she just had. Plus more dialogue as the four ride in Steve V's car, where the first arrive at a drive-in restaurant called Johnny's where they pick up Sheila and her two girlfriends and then drive to the bowling alley.
  • An extra scene of Pete riding up Van Nuys Boulevard at night on his motorcycle where he arrives at Johnny's Drive-In where he meets with Steve V, Carl and Sheila where Pete responds awkward towards them as he is having a mysterious headache. Pete then savagely beats up two guys who try to pick up Sheila much to her shock.
  • A brief scene of Fred Madison checking into the Lost Highway Motel and walking towards Room 25 which he knows is right next to Room 26 where Renee and Mr. Eddy are.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in David Lynch's Comic-Con Message (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

Heirate Mich
Written by Richard Kruspe (as Kruspe)/Till Lindemann (as Lindemann)/Paul Landers (as Landers)/Flake Lorenz (as Lorenz)/Christoph Schneider (as Schneider)/Oliver Riedel (as Riedel)
Courtesy of BMG Songs, Inc. (ASCAP)
o/b/o Edition Rammstein/Musik-Edition Discoton Gmbh.
Performed by Rammstein
Courtesy of Motor Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

haunting, beautiful, open to interpretation...here's mine
20 March 2001 | by phasmatropeSee all my reviews

"Lost Highway" is a great many things, but often seems to be reduced to a love-it or hurts-my-head-from-the-confusion, so-I'll-just-dismiss-it kind of movie. Some critics have written it off as self-indulgent swill, saying that only people who could hope to appreciate it would be Lynch himself and his plethora of wide-eyed adoring fans, etc, etc. I myself have never actually been a huge fan of Lynch, perhaps because I thought his stories didn't take themselves seriously enough, were just too darn quirky, who knows. Still, I've always admired his talent for creating beautiful, disturbing imagery, and "Lost Highway" has to be my favorite film of his, and possibly one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing I've ever seen! Certainly not for everyone, as those who want a definitive "answer," who think that seeing it again and again is really going to explain everything, or those who are simply into the ol' explosion-packed action blockbusters are going to be left shaking their heads. It's definitely open to interpretation. Myself, I'm not one to offer any new insight, I view it as--SPOILER AHEAD??--a purely subjective movie, with nearly all the events seen and largely imagined by its protagonist, Fred Madison, and once you can simply accept him as insane (or at least very imaginative!) you can simply quit puzzling over it and allow yourself to enjoy the ride.

While incarcerated for killing his wive in an act of jealousy, he embarks on a "psychogenic fugue" as an act of last-minute escapism from the looming dread of his upcoming execution--sort of like Ambrose Bierce's "Occurence At Owl Creek Bridge"--imagining himself as a younger, more likable/worthwhile guy (valued auto mechanic, "Mr. Eddy's" favorite), with people who care about him (his parents and girlfriend, as opposed to his real-life murdered wife who didn't even bother to go to his musical performances), and definitely more virile, as he is able to both attract and fulfill his "wife" (seen here as the slutty, icy femme fatale-type he always suspected her to be). However, try as he may, he ultimately can't avoid his past (notice how the fantasy him is put off when he hears Fred's jazz song on the radio in the garage), and thus after the fantasy Alice/Renee rejects him in the desert, he immediately turns back into his typical view of himself--hurt, older, sensitive, vulnerable (represented by his nakedness)--proving that even his fantasies fail him, and thus he's left to die an unpleasant death in the electric chair after all (notice the way he violently contorts in the closing moments, almost as if he's being electrocuted). Call him a modern-day murderous Walter Mitty I guess. The Fred Madison/O.J. Simpson comparisons made by some are interesting--if just a BIT cynical!--though I have to halfway wonder if that real-life spousal jealousy murder case provided any grain of inspiration for this fictional one. The cast is impressive and do a great job; Bill Pullman definitely has the haunted, deer-in-the-headlights look that his confused, out-of-it character requires, though at the same time I don't know if he quite portrays the extreme jealousy and animal savageness deep down inside that caused him to murder his wife as gruesomely as he did (if of course you even want to accept what was on that final videotape as something that actually happened in the first place!). Needless to say, the whole moebius-strip "twist" of having the film end at its beginning greatly complicates any interpretation; even without it, the film could STILL be difficult to decipher by some (heck, I'm still not even really sure what the significance of the Mystery Man was!)

Perhaps the film could have benefited from a few extra scenes or lines of dialogue to make it a little less cryptic for the more literal-minded members of the audience, but still, even by suggesting that you'd be implying that there was one concrete explanation for the film, which there most certainly is not.

Regardless, all plot and interpretations aside, you can almost certainly enjoy for its images, its music (an EXCELLENT soundtrack), for its mood and atmosphere, and simply for it as a whole: dare I say, it's almost more of an experience than anything (though for what it's worth, at the same time I can't think of the last time I saw a film--or work of art period, for that matter--that provoked such a wide variety of interpretations and opinions, as should hopefully be the case with ANY great work of art).

Fascinating.


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