David Lynch in a press photo
The innovative American filmmaker is known for his visually-arresting aesthetics and non-linear storytelling. David Lynch's films tend to either enthuse, or conversely, confuse. “You’re a madman. I love you!” said Mel Brooks. “What’s happening?” said most the American public.
One thing everyone can agree upon is David Lynch would lunch late at 2:30pm while enjoying coffee and chocolate milkshakes at Bob’s Big Boy Burbank. The resulting buzz from the sugar and caffeine would lead to many of his ideas, which were jotted down on Bob’s Big Boy napkins.
John Waters and David Lynch
Lynch’s first feature, Eraserhead (1977), was finished with a loan from his father and the money David got from doing a paper route, delivering The Wall Street Journal. While it got off to a slow start, critically and commercially, the film became a smash hit on the midnight movie circuit. Wearing an Eraserhead T-shirt became a symbol to those within the indie culture that you “got it.” It was added to the U.S. Film Registry in 2004. Stanley Kubrick said it was one of his all-time favorite films and while shooting his horror movie with Jack Nicholson, he screened it to his cast and crew “to put them in the mood.”
Lynch turned down an opportunity from George Lucas to direct Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, directing Dune (1984), another sci-fi story, with Kyle MacLachlan, instead. Lynch was so disappointed with the film and the studio process, he would make sure to always take a lower salary in order to have final cut.
Isabella Rossellini in Blue Velvet
One day, while presumably enjoying coffee and milkshakes, Lynch would see a man approach the Bob’s Big Boy Burbank counter, “Seeing him came a feeling, and that’s where Frank Booth came from.” Booth, played by Dennis Hopper, is the main antagonist, and arguably the greatest on-screen villain ever in Blue Velvet (1986). The film draws inspiration from the old Bobby Vinton song “Blue Velvet” that hit Billboard #1 in 1963. Lana del Rey released a Lynch-influenced music video of the song in 2012. The film co-stars Isabella Rossellini (the daughter of Ingrid Bergman) and Bob’s Big Boy Burbank lunch guests, Kyle MacLachlan and Laura Dern. Dern recounted their meeting in an interview with W Magazine. "I got a call that he wanted to meet me at Bob's Big Boy to see if Kyle MacLachlan and I could get along or something. It was like a chemistry lunch. And so the three of us had lunch at Bob's Big Boy, and the rest is history. We ordered malts and French fries and David was doodling on napkins while Kyle was doodling with a knife into his ketchup.” The film is regarded as one of the best films of the 1980’s, and internationally, as one of the greatest American films of all-time.
Twin Peaks opening title sequence
Lynch and TV producer, Mark Frost, originally came together to work on a biopic about Marilyn Monroe, but the project never got off the ground. While having coffee in a diner, they hit upon the basic premise of a corpse washing up on a lakeshore. Twin Peaks (1990-91) was born and became a success on two fronts: high ratings and a massive cult following. It is often listed among the greatest television series of all time, and is considered a landmark turning point in television drama. It follows an FBI investigation of a coffee-loving Special Agent Dale Cooper, played by Kyle MacLachlan, into the murder of Homecoming Queen Laura Palmer.
Many of Lynch’s films include the recurrence of dream motifs and surrealism, themes of industry like machinery, sounds, factories, smoke, and flickering lights, but Blue Velvet (1986), Twin Peaks (1990-91), and Lost Highway (1997) all seek to identify with 1950’s American culture, despite the films being set in the later 20th century. “It was really a hopeful time. Things were going up instead of down.” Lynch said.
Dern and Cage are Wild at Heart
Wild at Heart (1990) is a black comedy romantic crime film, starring Nicolas Cage and Laura Dern. The violent, sexually-charged film won the Palme d’Or (Best Picture) at Cannes, but received mixed reviews from American critics and audiences. Cage’s character covers two Elvis songs: "Love Me" and "Love Me Tender."
The surrealism of Mulholland Drive
In 2016, the BBC conducted a poll with 177 film critics around the world and ranked Mulholland Drive (2001) as the greatest film of the 21st Century. The surreal neo-noir mystery film starred Naomi Watts. lt was also the final performance of Hollywood veteran actress Ann Miller. Lynch has declined to offer an explanation of his intentions for the narrative, leaving audiences, critics, and cast members to speculate. He gave the film the tagline "A love story in the city of dreams." It earned him the Prix de la mise en scène (Best Director) at Cannes and his third Academy Award nomination for Best Director.
1941 Chevrolet Special De Luxe
David Lynch’s movies are deeply rooted in the setting of America. Scenes are filled with cherry pie, coffee, and cars. The master of film devices is not going to miss a chance to say something with the choice of a car. In an interview with The Telegraph, Lynch claims to have not seen a movie in years. “All I watch is TV shows about cars.” There is a blog article about “The Cars of David Lynch Films.” The Internet Movie Cars Database (IMCDB.org) has detailed pages for all his movies with a great selection of classic cars: Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks, Lost Highway, Wild at Heart, and Mulholland Drive.
Lynch wrote a book called Catching Big Fish (2007), detailing much of his thoughts on meditation, consciousness, and creativity. “Transcendental meditation leads to a beautiful, peaceful revolution. A change from suffering and negativity to happiness and a life more free of any problems.” The David Lynch Foundation supports the teaching of TM in schools, as well as making it available to the homeless, veterans, and refugees. “Changes Begin Within” was a benefit concert organized by The Foundation, which included performances by Bob’s Big Boy Burbank Hall-of-Famers, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr.
David Lynch’s own beans
The avid practitioner of meditation is also an avid coffee drinker. It’s been joked that this "highly caffeinated, pack a day smoker is the least jittery person in Hollywood." He has his own brand of coffee called David Lynch’s Signature Cup. Lynch likes to joke that he’s "full of beans."
In 2001, well before do-it-yourself websites became ubiquitous, David learned HTML and made his own himself. A premium subscription would allow access to a daily video where the film director would give a 30-second description of the weather in LA. No word on whether Fritz Coleman, a Bob’s Big Boy Burbank Hall-of-Famer, ever felt his job threatened.
Lynch received an honorary Oscar (2019) and gave the world’s shortest acceptance speech.
The believer in reincarnation states, “Life is a short trip. We’ll all meet again.”
David Lynch accepting his Oscar