I Had A Dream About This Place David Lynch's Mulholland Drive By Mike White. I debated long and hard about writing this article. I thought, for sure, that I’d be done with it and then read something fairly similar the following week in Video Watchdog...
I debated long and hard about writing this article. I thought, for sure, that I’d be done with it and then read something fairly similar the following week in Video Watchdog. Then, for a while, I had decided that David Lynch’s theatrical version of Mulholland Drive was trash. I had a hard time choking down the finale of this film. I think that a lot of that falls to the fact that I had become overly familiar with the script and television pilot versions. For that reason, the film’s twist didn’t set well with me.
After seeing Mulholland Drive at the Toronto International Film Festival, I felt that I was living in some kind of Bizarro World. Here was Roger Ebert-the man who has never had a good word to say about Lynch-praising a Lynch movie while I felt that the auteur had passed irrevocably from artful playfulness to being “weird for weird’s sake.” I wondered how to open the portal back to my own world.
It took CdC’s Assistant Editor, Mike Thompson, to make me give the film another chance. I felt obligated (in a good way) to see Mulholland Drive with Mike as we had made something of a tradition out of seeing David Lynch’s theatrical releases together. Knowing what was coming and integrating it with the entire film in my mind made all the difference. For the record, Mike, having fewer preconceived notions, enjoyed the film his first go ’round.
Apart from the ending, however, there were significant differences between the script, pilot, and the theatrical release. An examination of these reveals the arduous journey this project took. For the sake of clarity, this piece is meant as a companion to the theatrical version of Mulholland Drive. If you’ve not seen the movie, I’d recommend that you reconsider reading further. Likewise, I shan’t be providing much commentary or interpretation about any version of Mulholland Drive. Rather than being lazy, I’m attempting to let the reader make their own assumptions and draw their own conclusions about this work.
Initially, Mulholland Drive was to mark David Lynch’s return to television. Again, the director partnered with ABC, with whom he had worked with on “Twin Peaks.” Why Lynch would try to work with this company after their tumultuous relationship is the kind of mystery that would take a blue key to unlock...
Throughout the rest of this article, the SCRIPT I refer to is 92 pages long and has a date of 1/5/1999. The PILOT episode runs 88-minutes and lacks the “closed ending” that Lynch was contractually obligated to provide to co-producers ABC and Disney’s Touchstone/Buena Vista International. Tacking on an ending was the same tactic used for the Twin Peaks European release. There are few details about the ending save for a remark in Tad Friend’s article “Creative Differences” from the September, 1999 issue of The New Yorker. Friend reports, “the closed ending features a Blue Lady and a magician who explodes in blue flames.” (These flames are most likely a hyperbolic recounting of the Magician disappearing in a cloud of smoke.)
Without the ending, Lynch’s original cut of the pilot ran for two hours and five minutes. Lynch intended that ABC run the pilot for two and a half hours (with commercials). Upon delivery of this early cut, however, Lynch told Friend that Jamie Tarses and Stu Bloomberg, then president and co-chairperson of ABC, were “freaking out, saying it has to be eighty-eight minutes.” ABC later provided Lynch with copious “suggestions” to help pare down the pilot to their desired length. “I whacked away to make this fat man fit in a real little phone booth, trying to answer their concerns about pace,” Lynch said.
The resultant pilot jettisoned several scenes and shots that were in Lynch’s script. A few of these were resurrected for the final theatrical release of the film-most notably the scene with Dan and Herb at “Winkie’s.” Others seem to have disappeared completely, such as the “boy with metal crutches and piercing blue eyes.” After Lynch delivered this 88-minute pilot, ABC shelved the project for months before finally canning the whole thing. As a last-ditch effort to recoup costs, the network announced a plan to air the pilot as a two-hour TV movie. Lynch detested this idea, considering it a “bad traffic accident.” The complete abandonment of the work must have been something of a relief to the director.
In this section, I’ll go through the aforementioned script, pilot, and theatrically-released film. I’ll avoid recounting scenes shared by all three for brevity’s sake.
After the Universal and Studio logos, and a few other opening credit titles, the FEATURE begins with two scenes not present anywhere else. The audience sees the mad rush of jitterbugging bodies. Here we’re introduced to Betty Elms (Naomi Watts) along side the old couple who return later in the film.
After this scene, we’re introduced to what could be considered a framing device with an out-of-focus shot of Betty’s bedroom rug that turns into a point-of-view shot of her leaning in towards her pillow, perhaps going to bed.
Another dissolve takes us to the opening of the PILOT. The scene is described in the SCRIPT:
Darkness. Distant sounds of the freeway traffic. Then the closer sounds of a carits headlights illuminate an oleander bush and the limbs of a Eucalyptus tree. Then the headlights turna street sign is suddenly brightly lit. The words on the sign read... “Mulholland Drive.” The car moves under the sign as it turns and the words fall once again into darkness.
Obviously, the credits of the FEATURE and PILOT differ, most likely due to contractual obligations and the different people involved in the projects. Most of the shots are identical save for the orderthe PILOT shows the Los Angeles night sky sooner than the FEATURE but, remember, the PILOT’s credit sequence is about two-thirds as long in duration.
The FEATURE introduces the screaming carloads of kids careening down Mulholland Drive earlier than in the PILOT. The appearance of these kids is delayed in the PILOT by as short sequence in which Rita (Laura Elena Harring) locks her car door to her would-be assassin. The FEATURE handles the impending car crash more effectively than the PILOT. The sudden, shocking cuts to the screaming kids creates a higher sense of anxiety.
In the FEATURE, it takes Rita a bit longer to journey away from the site of the wreckage. In the PILOT, as she begins walking away there is the same point-of-view shot “looking” at the city of Los Angeles below. However, there are no shots of Rita taking the “short cut” through the underbrush which come back later in the FEATURE. As Rita makes her way to safety, the PILOT has a fun musical nod to Sunset Boulevard as Rita passes by that street sign.
In the FEATURE after Rita lays her head down to sleep, there’s an awkward cut to a shot-already in motion-of the gates to apartment complex wherein Betty’s Aunt Ruth (Maya Bond) lives. The PILOT cuts straight from Rita’s prone form to a fire engine. The camera pans left to reveal the back of Detectives Harry McKnight (Robert Forster) and Neal Domgaard (Brent Briscoe). In the FEATURE, we see the fire engine but then there’s a quick cut to a few police cruisers and the camera pans right to reveal McKnight and Domgaard. Near the end of the FEATURE shot, the characters are framed almost identically to how they are in the PILOT shot. Yet, the FEATURE shot keeps moving and cuts while in motion. The PILOT version plays much smoother.
In the FEATURE, we see McKnight and Domgaard briefly before cutting to the wreckage. In the PILOT (and SCRIPT) they exchange some dialogue:
MCKNIGHT: You feel it?
They continue to stare.
DOMGAARD: Sammy think the Caddy had stopped along the shoulder...man up the road said he saw two cars drag racin’...then you got that blind corner.
MCKNIGHT: Two men...two guns in the Caddy.
The FEATURE then picks up with Domgaard revealing the pearl earring “the boys” found on the floor in the back of the caddy. The camera lingers on McKnight far longer in the PILOT. Then the scene cuts to a daytime shot of the Hollywood sign where the FEATURE dissolves to the sleeping Rita (as if she had been dreaming the detectives). We don’t see Rita wake up in the PILOT. Instead, there’s a cut to Aunt Ruth getting ready for her trip. When we see Rita, she’s watching Ruth and the taxi driver bring out Ruth’s bags. During this scene, there are no medium shots of Aunt Ruth in the PILOT while there are two in the FEATURE. This makes her character slightly more mysterious. In the pilot, we only see Ruth’s face clearly for a brief second when she’s about to pick up her keys.
After Rita falls back into her slumber on the floor of Ruth’s kitchen, the PILOT cuts to the arrival of Betty while the FEATURE has the partially-reinstated “Winkie’s” scene as described in the SCRIPT. In the script, the restaurant always referred to as Denny’s.
Two well-dressed men HERB and DAN (mid 30s) are sitting at a table drinking coffee. Herb has finished eating his breakfast, but Dan hasn’t touched his bacon and eggshe appears too nervous to eat. A blond waitress with a nameplate saying “DIANE” lays the check on their tablesmiles, then walks off.
HERB: Why did you want to go to breakfast if you’re not hungry?
The FEATURE omits the introduction of Diane (Melissa Crider) as well as Herb’s first line. Instead, after the establishing shot there’s a cut right to Dan (Patrick Fischler) saying, “I just wanted to come here.” From there, except for the occasional slight differences from the script to the actors’ reading, the scene plays out identically until Dan gets scared to death. The script has Herb (Michael Cooke) asking, “Dan! Dan! You all right?” The FEATURE muffles this dialogue, making Dan’s death even more powerful.
After this scene, the FEATURE cuts back to Rita, still asleep. Again, it’s as if she may have dreamed the Winkie’s scene. Or, perhaps, she’s dreaming the next bit in which we’re introduced to Mr. Roque (Michael J. Anderson), who begins a round robin alert to Rita’s disappearance.
The inclusion of the Winkie’s scene and this general alarm sent out before the introduction of Betty is marvelous. The audience knows that Betty is about to enter a place where terrible things can happen. In the FEATURE, we first see Betty after we see “her” phone ringing. The ring carries over to the shot of Betty walking with Irene (Jeanne Bates) through LAX.
In the PILOT there are a few establishing shots of the airport before cutting to this same shot. After Betty says, “Oh, I can’t believe it,” the shot dissolves to a push-in on the Hollywood sign before then dissolving to the open gates of Aunt Ruth’s apartment complex. Here, the SCRIPT and FEATURE align again.
The SCRIPT makes no mention of the following FEATURE shots of Irene and her companion (Dan Birnbaum) in the back of their limo, smiling creepily at one another.
After this, we see the same shots of the Hollywood sign and open gates that are in the PILOT. In the FEATURE, Betty is awestruck by her Aunt Ruth’s apartment complex. She puts down her bags and looks around before going to see Coco Lanois (Ann Miller) the manager. In the PILOT, Betty arrives at Coco’s door much sooner.
Coco has a much bigger role in the PILOT and even more in the SCRIPT. After she returns with the key to Aunt Ruth’s apartment, she talks more to Betty.
COCO: I guess it was your grandfather, was it...he called me to check in, said you were on your way and for you to call when you get in. Nice man...farmer I hear.
BETTY: Yes, he is. He raises corn.
COCO: Damn lot of corn raised in Hollywood these days too.
BETTY: Well, I...
COCO: You don’t have to tell me. It’s written all over that pretty face of yours. You came here to be an actress. I just hope you’ll remember there’s never been a great poem called “tits and ass.”
COCO: You probably don’t remember her, but Louise Bonner lives right over there in number 29. When she isn’t drunk she runs a damn good acting class.
BETTY: Have many famous actors and actresses lived here? I was meaning to ask you that.
COCO: Honey, all the great ones came through here at one time or another. (A HAUNTING MUSIC BEGINS TO SWELL) People say in the springtime when the wind blows the smell of the jasmine you can still feel the presence of every one of them.
BETTY: I guess I’ve come to quite a place.
COCO: Sweetheart, you don’t know the half of it.
In the SCRIPT, there’s a brief shot of Rita showering before Betty and Coco enter the apartment. The removal of this allows the audience to discover Rita with Betty after Coco takes her leave. In the PILOT, Coco has a few lines that aren’t in either the FEATURE or SCRIPT.
COCO: Oh! Don’t forget the rooftop garden. You can see the big Hollywood sign from up there.
BETTY: Thank you! Thank you so much!
COCO: You’ve got it honey. See you later.
The PILOT and FEATURE synch up again for a few seconds until Betty reaches her Aunt’s bedroom to find Rita’s clothes on the floor. Betty looks at these for quite a bit longer in the PILOT before going into the bathroom to find Rita in the shower. In the PILOT there are a few close-ups of Rita’s face through the shower stall glass while the FEATURE plays out as one medium two-shot of Rita (behind the glass) and Betty.
After Rita comes out of the shower and introduces herself to Betty the PILOT, SCRIPT, and FEATURE all play out differently. In the FEATURE, after Betty asks if Rita works with Aunt Ruth she says, “It’s none of my business.” In the PILOT the next line comes from Rita saying, “I think I’ve been hurt.”
The FEATURE pares down their exchange, ending Rita’s line before saying, “She’s very kind, I think.” The only change of note is the Betty’s origin. In the SCRIPT she says she’s from Iowa (this is enforced by her corn-growing Grandfather). In the FEATURE, however, she’s from Deep River, Ontario. The phrase “Deep River” has roots in another Lynch film in that Dorothy Vallens lived in the Deep River apartments in Blue VELVET.
After Rita goes back to sleep for the third time, the SCRIPT and PILOT cut to the scene of Joe (Mark Pellegrino) and Ed (Vincent Castellanos) in Ed’s office. Meanwhile, the FEATURE goes on to the Castigliane Brothers scene. The order of shots here plays differently as well. In the SCRIPT and PILOT, Adam Kesher (Justin Theroux) appears first along with Raymond Hott (Robert Katims), Vincent Darby (Marcus Graham) and Robert Smith (David Schroeder). The dialogue between Adam and Ray has been re-arranged as well.
ADAM: So what’s the problem?
RAY: There is no problem.
ADAM: So why did you idiots bring me here? I’m in the middle of making a picture.
Here Mr. Darby discusses the menu of espressos with the man (Tom Morris) who will serve the Castigliane brothers-Luigi (Dan Hedaya) and Vincenzo (composer Angelo Badalamenti). After that comes the dialogue, which starts the scene in the FEATURE.
From there, the scenes in both the PILOT and FEATURE play out similarly. Notable exceptions include the headshots of Camilla Rhodes (Melissa George). These differ completely. In the FEATURE, Camilla is inexplicably dressed in the same outfit she’ll be seen in later during “Rita’s” party. In the PILOT, it’s more of a traditional picture of Camilla-similar to the headshot that “Betty” shows Joe in the FEATURE. Also, the FEATURE cuts away occasionally to Mr. Roque, apparently privy to everything going on, while the characters speak to one another. Additionally, when Vincenzo Castigliane spits out his espresso he utters a curse in Italian in the PILOT but cuts straight to the point in the SCRIPT and FEATURE, “Is shit!”
It takes far longer for the Castigliane brothers to leave in the FEATURE. Vincenzo utters again, “This is the girl” before going. There’s an additional exchange after they leave in the SCRIPT and PILOT.
ADAM: You’d better fix this, Ray!!!
RAY: I’ll speak to someone.
ADAM: (To his manager) And you’d better speak to someone too...or find yourself another client!! This smells like a set-up to me. By the way, Ray, I don’t know who these guys are kidding but every foot of film I’ve shot is in the vault at the lab that only I can access. No one’s getting that film!!
ROBERT SMITH: This is a catastrophe... (To Ray) you told me they might insist on a girl, that’s all.
ADAM: Why didn’t you tell me, Robert? That’s what I mean...you set me up! I woulda never come here. I’m leaving...I’m a director you don’t want to lose...you guys better fix this!!
Adam storms out of the room.
RAY: Well... I didn’t know that was going to happen.
After Adam strikes back at the Castigliane brothers by smashing their limo window, in the PILOT there’s an extra shot of the broken window and the limo driver looking almost nonplussed. The SCRIPT and PILOT then cut to Betty on a big leather couch talking to on the phone.
In the SCRIPT, she’s speaking to her Grandfather.
BETTY: No Grandpa, you wouldn’t believe it. It’s more beautiful than I ever dreamed...no she left me a lot of food. The refrigerator’s full...Aunt Ruthie said she’d call me when she got settled...it was real smooth. I sat next to a lady who gave up her first class seat to a boy with a broken leg. She was so nice to me. She invited me to her house sometime. It’s in Bel Air, which is a place where people have a lot of money...I will. Everybody’s telling me to be careful, but I sure love it here Grandpa. Thank you for helping me get here...yeah, it’s long distance. I love you. Say hello to Grams. Give her a big kiss for me. Okay, I love you Grandpa...bye.
Betty goes in to check on Rita. She’s still asleep.
Betty then rinses her dishes in the kitchen sink and pours herself a cup of coffee. She takes the coffee outside to the courtyardto a small white table just outside her doorway. She sits down and stretches in the warm afternoon sun. Across the way she can hear a blues saxophonist practicing in one of the apartments. She drinks her coffee and listens to the music.
Some birds fly overhead. She takes another sip of coffee. The blues music, which was mellow and slow, is now building in tempo and volume. The phone inside rings. Betty takes her coffee back into the living room, shutting the door behind her.
It’s Aunt Ruth on the phone. In the PILOT, there’s no call to Grandpa or courtyard scene. Rather, it picks up with Betty talking to Aunt Ruth. In the FEATURE, after Adam Kesher runs away from the damaged limo the film cuts to Betty going in to check on Rita. After Betty adjusts the robe she placed around Rita to keep her warm, the FEATURE cuts to Ray Harris paying a visit to Mr. Roque.
This scene exists in both the SCRIPT and PILOT but comes at a later point in the story. In the SCRIPT and PILOT, Ray has to pass through several levels of security before he can stand on the opposite side of the glass from the microcephalic Roque. In the FEATURE, Ray greets Mr. Roque before saying, “Her name is Camilla Rhodes. The director doesn’t want her.”
At this point, the FEATURE cuts to the scene of Joe and Ed that came some fifteen pages earlier in the SCRIPT. The Joe and Ed scene plays out almost identically in the SCRIPT, PILOT and FEATURE. The only difference of note is the addition of the hilarious, “Something bit me, real bad!” line in the PILOT and FEATURE. Afterwards, the FEATURE cuts to Betty on the phone to Aunt Ruth.
In the SCRIPT and PILOT, after Ray Harris speaks to Mr. Roque, there’s a brief (and seemingly pointless) scene with the Castigliane brothers seeing their damaged limo before getting into a second one.
Here, the SCRIPT and FEATURE coincide with the scene of Joe, Billy (Michael Des Barres) and Laney (Rena Riffel) outside of Pink’s Chili Dogs. The SCRIPT has some additional dialogue, which seems to pick up in the middle of a conversation already in progress.
BILLY: Yeah, sure. Look what happened to them.
JOE: No, no, no, I told you. They’re fine. They’re all real happy.
BILLY: My next delivery is up that way, so I’ll be getting down to it real soon.
JOE: You’re so easy.
BILLY: Gotta keep an eye on her, that’s all.
JOE: Yeah, what for?
BILLY: Keep her from getting in trouble, that’s all. Can we eat in the van?
JOE: What’s the matter now?
BILLY: Nothing...I don’t like being out in the open like this.
JOE: It must be just so pathetic being you. Sure Billy, grab your dog and we’ll eat in the van.
After that, the scene continues as it does in the FEATURE.
In the SCRIPT, this scene is followed by the aforementioned round robin phone call from so much earlier in the FEATURE. However, instead of the red room that later appears to be “Betty’s” room in the FEATURE, the SCRIPT has the final phone ringing in on a blue table.
The surface of this table is high gloss ultra smooth material. A very modern phone sits on this table and begins to ring softly. A hand enters the framea woman’s hand. The skin is pale white, almost translucent. The fingers are long and seem slightly too large. At the ends of the fingers and thumb are stretch, tapered high gloss red fingernails that slightly curve down downward. The forefinger of the hand presses a button on the phone. A small tone soundsfollowed by a very modern sounding coded signal.
Back in Aunt Ruth’s apartment...
BETTY: Well...what do you think about then? I mean...well what do you think about?
RITA: What do you mean?
BETTY: Well...if you don’t remember anything, I mean what goes through your mind then if you don’t remember anything?
RITA: Nothing. I do remember the car crash...I told you...I remember the glass... I think about that sometimes ...I remember walking here, sort of. Now I remember this place and you. That’s about it.
BETTY: How do you remember how to talk?
RITA: I don’t know.
BETTY: You don’t remember anything else?
RITA: No... There is something...something there I can’t tell... I can’t describe it. Things are there...but I’m...here.
The SCRIPT, PILOT, and FEATURE rejoin for just a few lines as Betty and Rita talk about the money and the blue key from Rita’s purse. When Betty asks Rita about the money and key, the response in the FEATURE is the “There is something” line from above while the SCRIPT and PILOT have this answer, “The money...I don’t know about the money... the key...it makes me feel...afraid.”
Now the round robin phone call comes into play in the PILOT. The final phone here is the modern one on a blue table. The PILOT then cuts to the Pink’s Chili Dog’s scene which plays out identically to that of the FEATURE.
The SCRIPT introduces some of the men in dark glasses who apparently search for Rita.
They pass by us and as we turn we leave them and pick-up Adam driving in the opposite direction in the other lane. We stay with Adam.
Again, the SCRIPT and FEATURE follow the same trajectory. With the next scene, the SCRIPT, PILOT and FEATURE play out the same. Betty and Rita are still stuck in Aunt Ruth’s apartment, contemplating Rita’s true self.
The SCRIPT moves on to a few throwaway scenes of Betty and Rita going through Aunt Ruth’s closet for some clothes (“My Aunt dresses like Miss Marple.”) and of Adam talking to Taka (Tad Horino), his Japanese gardener. The PILOT plays the aforementioned scene of Adam talking to Cynthia (Katharine Towne), his assistant. Here, however, her voice comes from a tinny speaker, barely audible at times. Cynthia’s dialogue here counts among a good number of lines that have been tweaked or re-recorded for greater clarity.
Adam pulls up into his house, re-joining the SCRIPT and FEATURE as he discovers “Clean Gene” (Billy Ray Cyrus) in bed with his wife, Lorraine (Lori Heuring). Here, again, the audio differs significantly. The majority of musical cues differ from PILOT to FEATURE with Badalamenti’s score fleshed out for the theatrical release. Adam, most of all, appears in the PILOT with his own soundtrack-one that has been completely replaced in the FEATURE.
Oddly, the PILOT, while missing the interchange between Taka and Adam, ends the scene with a lingering shot of Taka taking off his hat and watching Adam leave.
In the SCRIPT, the next sequence of Betty and Rita going to Denny’s/Winkie’s contained the aforementioned “boy with crutches” shot. This idea of a boy with a broken leg was heard in Betty’s description of her trip to Los Angeles while on the phone to her Grandpa. However, this boy doesn’t seem to have a broken leg. Instead...
The boy is very thin and something is wrong with him...Betty is struck deeply by the boy’s brilliant luminous blue eyes which are at once innocent and filled with wisdom.
At Denny’s/Winkie’s Diane makes a bigger appearance:
The manager of Denny’s, standing with a woman in a blue dress, calls Diane’s name. Diane turns and looks to the manager and the woman. A fleeting fear goes through her eyes. She surreptitiously reaches in her pocket and takes out a Mont Blanc fountain pen, which she puts under Betty’s check as she places it on their table. She does this very quickly but Betty notices this and Diane notices Betty noticing. Diane walks quickly over to the manager and the woman in the blue dress. Betty turns and watches a heated conversation that she can’t hear, but she sees the woman in the blue dress searching her purse and shrugging and then leaving.
The manager says something to Diane and Diane turns her pockets inside out and pats herself down in front of the manager showing him her innocence. He waves her off and she goes behind the counter to retrieve an order of food. Betty stops watching and turns her attention to Rita, who is tense and lost in a thought. At that moment, Diane the waitress reappears at their table.... She takes back the pen.
In the SCRIPT and PILOT, the scene with Kenny (Tony Longo) looking for Adam at his house goes on for just a few seconds longer. After he’s knocked Gene and Lorraine out cold, there’s a shot of Lorraine’s jewelry box floating in the kitchen sink, the tap running. Meanwhile, Kenny takes great pains to break every one of Adam’s golf clubs in two.
After this scene (abbreviated in the FEATURE), we visit Adam in the Park Hotel in the PILOT and FEATURE. This scene comes later in the SCRIPT and, during that time, Adam doesn’t ever refer to the hotel manager (Geno Silva) as “Cookie.” Before we see Adam at the Park Hotel the SCRIPT has Louise Bonner (Lee Grant) making an appearance at Aunt Ruth’s door. Having mentioned something of Louise earlier in the SCRIPT feels smarter than just having her drop by in the FEATURE.
Instead of Louise, the PILOT goes from Betty and Rita talking about taking a trip out to Dianne Selwyn’s place to the camera craning to the upstairs apartment where Wilkins (Scott Coffey) receives a phone call from Adam. This bit doesn’t come until thirty-three pages later in the SCRIPT (and not at all in the FEATURE).
WILKINS: How’s it going? No, it’s okay. Yeah, I’m working, but..they wanted this script a week ago. What? What’s wrong with your house? The poolman? Sure, you can have the couch. No, it’s no problem..it’s just I gotta...I gotta work. Any chance you could bring some food. No, I got plenty of moneyI just haven’t gone out for a while. Groovy man! Murphy [the dog who likes to crap on Coco’s sidewalk] and I’ll be glad to see you. No, no, no, he’s got plenty of food.
Wilkins makes a surprise appearance in the FEATURE at “Rita’s” party-the place where nearly all the characters collide-sitting next to “Betty.”
After Louise Bonner shows up in the FEATURE and SCRIPT, Adam takes a trip up to see The Cowboy (Monty “Lafayette” Montgomery). The Cowboy’s dialogue is far more extensive in the SCRIPT. The Cowboy also mentions that Adam has lost access to his “precious film vault” that Adam had touted earlier. Likewise, in the SCRIPT, The Cowboy has an additional scene and bit of dialogue.
Adam walks up in the direction the Cowboy took, but he sees no sign of a car or any dust or any road. He goes back down past the barn and stables to his car. There standing by his Porsche is the Cowboy.
COWBOY: You thinkin’ this’ll work out, ‘cause I was thinkin’ it just might.
ADAM: It will work out.
COWBOY: Good then, but, just in case, that bank’s gonna stay closed a bit longer. You understand that?
ADAM: I understand.
COWBOY: You’re an understandin’ fella.
ADAM: So, this is the last time I see you then unless I do bad?
COWBOY: No, this one doesn’t count. It’s part of the original one. So then...until we meet again.
The SCRIPT, PILOT, and FEATURE share the following scene of Betty and Rita rehearsing for Betty’s reading. Then their paths diverge again.
In the SCRIPT, Coco receives a call from Aunt Ruth before going over to see Betty and inadvertently catching a glimpse of Rita. The FEATURE picks up with Coco coming over the apartment. However, the PILOT moves on to the subsequent scene from the SCRIPT of the intrepid Detectives McKnight and Domgaard at work.
Detective Neal Domgaard throws two wallets down on the desk in front of Detective Harry McKnight. Harry pauses in the middle of a large bite of grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato. He looks down and studies the wallets.
MCKNIGHT: Nice wallets.
DOMGAARD: Hand stitched Italian. Filled with phony credit cards...off the two guys in the caddy.
MCKNIGHT: The one of ’em still alive?
DOMGAARD: Yeah...just...Dr. Scott’s got ’em. You remember Dr. Scott.
MCKNIGHT: Oh yeah.
DOMGAARD: Well he said...you know in his way..you know what I mean? Besides the guy getting rolled up under the kids car which busted him up pretty bad, there was this little knife-like torn piece of metal, you know, off the car body, rolled out and slid up through this guy’s neck and just kinda slit his aorta, you know, but they didn’t find it right away, so the guy’s losin’ a lot of blood, you know, to the brainall this time ’cause it was just like this thin little puncture wound on the surface of his neck that kinda sealed itself, he said, while inside the aorta is bleedin’ pretty steady all that time. So, Dr. Scott’s laughin’ you know like he does ’cause he knows we want to talk to this guy he’s laughin’ you know and shakin’... Son of a bitch couldn’t stop laughin’... It was kinda contagious ’cause pretty soon we were all laughin’..the nurse was laughin’. You know how he is.
MCKNIGHT: Find out who they are?
DOMGAARD: Nope, not yet. Their fingerprints don’t match up anywhere.
DOMGAARD: Yeah, and they both used the same address.
MCKNIGHT: Where at?
MCKNIGHT: Damn, that’s a long drive.
Not only does the PILOT omit Louise Bonner but it also eliminates Coco’s warnings to Betty and her finding Rita at the apartment. Rather, it goes straight from Domgaard and McKnight to the gates of Paramount Studios with music from Sunset Boulevard playing for a second time (don’t forget Lynch’s apparent love of the Wilder film-his character name of “Gordon Cole” in Twin Peaks is a direct reference to the earlier film). The action jumps into gear with Betty going directly into her audition-no introductions or starry-eyed glances around the studio lot.
The PILOT also cuts out a lot of the post-audition accolades, fading out after Betty’s done and fading back up to Linny James (Rita Taggart), her assistant Nicki (Michele Hicks) and Betty going over to the set of The Sylvia North Story.
When Betty returns to Aunt Ruth’s apartment to pick up Rita, the SCRIPT introduces Cornell Dumont, a strikingly handsome young black musician. He’s on his balcony playing the saxophone. He stops playing when he sees the girls, recognizing Rita and saying, “Hey, how’s Sol? I haven’t seen him lately. Tell him to come by the club.”
The SCRIPT then rejoins the PILOT and FEATURE as Betty and Rita venture out to Dianne Selwyn’s place. With the exception of Rita spying a limousine driver and mistaking him for one of the men who might be looking for her (in the SCRIPT and PILOT), the three entities play out almost identically for the entire scene in and around Diane’s apartment. The major differences come when the stories all diverge one final time.
After Betty helps to give Rita a makeover, the SCRIPT delivers the Wilkins scene from earlier in the PILOT. Then there are a few scenes of the two women together.
Rita has just taken the hatbox from the closet shelf and is setting it on the bed.
BETTY: What are you doing?
Betty is sitting on the bed opposite. Rita opens the hatbox and removes her purse. She opens the purse and takes out the money. She sits down on the bed and while staring at the money she thinks of what to say.
RITA: You’ve been so good to me...now we know why...why I was so afraid. We know what kind of trouble I’m in. I shouldn’t ask you...I only have this to offer. I’ll give you this if I can stay here for awhile. I don’t know what else to do.
Betty moves across the bed to the side of Rita. She puts her arm around Rita and holds her.
BETTY: Rita...I want you to stay here and you don’t have to give me that money.
RITA: But I want to.
BETTY: No. We shouldn’t touch that money. We don’t know about that money. That might be dangerous money. You have to start over again. You look like a brand new person and you can be a brand new person... whoever you want to be.
RITA: It sounds kind of nice...being somebody brand new.
BETTY: Hey, let’s introduce the brand new you to Hollywood. We haven’t seen the roof garden yet.
The girls come out the front door...Betty leading and pulling a much happier Rita along with her. They half run across the courtyard to stone steps under an Ivy covered eave.
The girls race up the stone steps toward us. Soon their wind-blown, smiling faces fill the screen as they look out. There before them are the lights of Hollywood with silhouetted palms, slow-moving theater klieg lights, and floating above it all the giant sign in the hills reading HOLLYWOOD.
BETTY: Here I am Hollywood! My name’s Betty.
BETTY: Say it!
RITA: Here I am Hollywood! My name’s Rita!
They look out, maybe waiting for an answer blowing in the Santa Ana wind.
Back inside Aunt Ruth’s apartment, the SCRIPT and PILOT re-join.
We move in to the pile of money next to Rita’s purse. Past that we move down inside Rita’s purse. We see the Blue Key and move closer to it until it fills the screen.
EXT. DENNY'S RESTAURANT - HOLLYWOOD - NIGHT
We drift along the red bricks past the payphone, along the wall until we come to the corner. Slowly we round the corner and move to a dark alley. There amongst the dumpsters and trashcans is the dark silhouette of a figure. We move closer to the figure. It is the bum and the bum sits. We move closer and the bum’s face fills the screen. Its face is black with fungus. Its eyes turn and they seem to be red.
And, back in the FEATURE, the fun seems to be just starting. After the makeover, there’s a cut to Betty in bed. Cue the lesbian sex scene, introduce Club Silencio (and the return of Cookie) and subject the audience to partial bits of the “closed ending” and other items shot as wrap-up to Mulholland Drive.
As to be expected, most of the changes from the SCRIPT to the finished FEATURE involve scenes or clues that would have undoubtedly come into play if Mulholland Drive had matured into a television show. In comparing the SCRIPT to the PILOT, however, I can easily see why Lynch was upset with pruning his creation until it was an unadorned TV movie. If the studios Lynch dealt with had wanted a David Lynch Movie why would they insist on removing elements so key to Lynch’s vision?
What would an audience see if they had been able to tune in to “Mulholland Drive” every week? Certainly, Joe would continue to have misadventures as a hapless hitman. Likewise, Domgaard and McKnight would doggedly pursue the mysterious owner of the pearl earring. After the “Cinderella exit” of Betty from the set of The Sylvia North Story, there had to be romance in store for Betty and Adam. And, undoubtedly, the innocent Betty would lose her vim and vigor to Los Angeles.
Despite the cliffhanger ending and being shorn of some of the more interesting items, the PILOT remains a wonderful companion piece to the FEATURE. The items removed and re-arranged help keep the FEATURE on track, barreling towards the ending that so upset me at one time.
The release of Mulholland Drive on DVD brought hope that the PILOT version would find legitimate release. Unfortunately, MGM’s release epitomizes “no frills.” Apart from a trailer and abbreviated actor biographies, the DVD doesn’t even have chapter stops! Perhaps time will provide a halfway decent second release of Mulholland Drive.