Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Lost Highway (1997)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Lost Highway (1997)

In this intriguing, extremely-enigmatic, non-linear David Lynch psychological thriller about double lives - the entire surreal and abstract neo-noir film possibly could be interpreted as a subconscious, psychotic dream, deranged fantasy, or imagined memory (or even a kind of purgatory or hell) of the main protagonist (Fred Madison) - a dying and guilty convicted killer who was accused of murder (and possibly about to be executed in prison (by the electric chair)) after killing his unfaithful actress wife (Renee); it was possible that the prison was only metaphoric, and that he was imprisoned in his own fractured delusions during interrogations.

During part of the film, Fred's life was bizarrely linked or intertwined with many others. His hallucinations and paranoid jealousy were to justify his murder of both porno mogul Mr. Eddy and his own wife Renee (for cheating on him, and for her new porn lifestyle):

  • in the film's opening, a mysterious voice (over his home's intercom system) cryptically told the disheveled, wealthy, successful LA tenor saxophonist/ jazz musician Fred Madison (Bill Pullman) a meaningless statement at the time (about a shady gangster boss):

    "Dick Laurent is dead."

  • while playing saxophone at the Luna Club one evening with a jazz band, Fred had lingering doubts about his wife Renee (Patricia Arquette), who was at home but not answering the phone; the next morning, an anonymous VHS videotape was delivered; upon playing it, it consisted of a 20-second image of their home's exterior
  • Fred began to experience strange disassociations and dreams; after trying to have sex with Renee but failing, he heard his wife Renee calling out for him: "Fred, where are you?"; in the dream, Renee also screamed as she was attacked; Fred also envisioned Renee's face as that of a pale, frightening-looking elderly man
  • a second videotape arrived, now showing the interior of the Madison home and the two sleeping in bed together; two detectives Ed (Louis Eppolito) and Al (John Roselius) were called in to investigate but found nothing unusual
  • during a party at the home of Andy (Michael Massee), an old friend of Renee's, Fred jealously regarded Renee's drunken behavior as troubling; he was confronted by a creepy, pasty-faced, black-clad individual (known as The Mystery Man (Robert Blake)) - the man who was in Fred's earlier dream (and had probably filmed and sent the videotapes); the man asked: "We've met before, haven't we?", and also claimed that he was in Fred's house at that very moment; in the film's scariest and most disquieting moment, Fred phoned his own home with the Mystery Man's cellphone and the voice of the Mystery Man answered at the house, although he was standing directly in front of Fred; after the man left, Fred asked Andy about the man's identity and was told he was a friend of Dick Laurent's; Fred recalled the earlier intercom message: "Dick Laurent is dead" and told Andy who reacted with disbelief
  • the next day, a third video tape was delivered - Fred watched as the recording showed gory images of his murder of Renee; Fred was next to the bloody bed where Renee's dismembered and mutilated corpse was laid out; Fred cried out for Renee
  • in the following sequence, Fred was being interrogated and beaten up by the two detectives, accused of his wife's homicide; dazed and confused over everything, Fred was put on trial, convicted and found guilty, and sentenced to death row for execution; he suffered from headaches and insomnia, and was offered tranquilizing sedatives; he began to experience strange visions, hallucinations, and dreams - of the Mystery Man, of a burning desert cabin, and of the stripe down a two-lane highway (the "Lost Highway" of the film's title)
  • in the film's strange turning point, Fred inexplicably morphed or was reborn into the 'hallucinated' character of Pete Dayton; possibly because of his identity crisis and insecurity, Fred was imagining himself in his 'dream' as a younger individual named Pete Dayton, who was living a completely different life; prison guards discovered Pete Dayton in Fred's cell, and were forced to release him from prison (under the care of his biker parents Bill and Candace (Gary Busey and Lucy Butler) who lived in Van Nuys) - his only crime on the record was auto theft five years earlier; Pete met up with his girlfriend Sheila (Natasha Gregson Wagner), who asked where he had been for a few days and kept noticing that he was acting "different"
  • after his absence, Pete Dayton returned to his auto mechanic garage job with co-workers where he attracted the attention of a hot-headed, violent-tempered criminal mobster thug named "Mr. Eddy" (Robert Loggia) who was requesting car repairs for his Mercedes (and then the next day for his Cadillac)
  • shortly later, Pete found himself immediately having passionate feelings for the mobster's blonde femme fatale mistress and porn actress Alice (a doppelganger resembling Fred's dead wife Renee) - Pete/Fred was soon having illicit sex with her at the Starlight Motel, to compensate for losing his wife earlier, but fearing that "Mr. Eddy" suspected their affair
  • Alice told Pete that "Mr. Eddy" was actually a porno producer named Dick Laurent, and Alice was forced to perform in his skin flicks; during a short flashback, Alice explained how Mr. Eddy had brutalized her, by forcing her to strip at gunpoint in his mansion
  • Pete was drawn into Alice's suggested scheme - to rob her porn producer friend Andy (the same Andy from earlier in the story), Mr. Eddy's associate and porn-actress recruiter, and then run away with her; during the theft inside Andy's home, Pete ambushed Andy and knocked him unconscious, and then noticed a framed B/W group photo (including Pete and Mr. Eddy) with identical-looking Alice and Renee together; Pete asked which one was Alice and she only identified herself as the blonde
  • Andy revived and attacked Pete, but was accidentally killed by a blow to his forehead when he was pushed onto the edge of a glas coffee table; Alice was unphased by the killing, and went ahead to steal Andy's jewelry and valuables; meanwhile, Pete began to hallucinate that Alice was in a motel and taunting him while having sex with a faceless man
  • Alice and Pete drove in Andy's red sports car into the desert and were seen lying naked together in the sand near the vacant cabin (from the earlier vision); Alice was unable to connect with anyone to "fence" Andy's stolen possessions for cash; the two were lit by the car's headlights while making love, he told her: "I want you," and she whispered tautingly in his ear: "You'll never have me"
  • the plot became even more complex when after making love to Alice, Pete transformed back into his original identity as Fred, and Alice returned to being Renee, and the plot circled back upon itself. Fred's delusion broke down and he found himself back in reality and under interrogation for his wife's murder; Alice disappeared while the Mystery Man reappeared to remind Fred that Alice's name was Renee, and to begin filming him with a video camera
  • Fred drove off to the nearby Lost Highway Hotel where Mr. Eddy (Dick Laurent) and Renee were having sex; afterwards, Fred angrily confronted Mr. Eddy, kidnapped him and forced him into the trunk of his Mercedes vehicle and drove off back into the desert; once the car's trunk was opened and porn/snuff film mogul Mr. Eddy leaped out, the Mystery Man reappeared and offered Fred a knife to kill Mr. Eddy; the Mystery Man also provided video evidence or proof that Renee and Mr. Eddy were having a sexual affair and that he had corrupted her life
  • Fred watched as the Mystery Man (standing next to Fred) shot and killed Mr. Eddy, and then whispered something unintelligible in Fred's ear; at dawn, Fred drove away from the desert crime scene with the gun

In the Desert in Front of Car Headlights, Alice Had Sex with Pete - She told him: "You'll never have me"

Mr. Eddy and Renee Had Sex in the Lost Highway Hotel, Just After Pete Reverted Back to Fred

Mr. Eddy Shot Dead by the Mystery Man (with Fred standing next to him)

Fred Madison
(Bill Pullman)
Fred was married to Renee, but suspected her of getting involved with porno and having an affair; he was convicted of murdering (and dismembering) Renee, and sentenced to death in prison; Fred was reborn (morphed) or bizarrely intertwined with Pete Dayton; Fred kidnapped Mr. Eddy and beat him up when he found Renee having sex with him, and eventually he witnessed the Mystery Man murder Mr. Eddy in the desert for having an affair with Renee (proven by videotape)
Pete Dayton
(Balthazar Getty)
An auto-mechanic, who was found in Fred's place in a cell on death-row; 24 years old; Pete was released from jail for Renee's murder, since he was seen as being innocent; he had a brunette girlfriend Sheila (Natasha Gregson Wagner); with Alice's help, Pete burglarized (and accidentally killed) her porn producer friend Andy, and then fled town into the desert with Alice (the doppelganger of Renee)
Renee Madison
(Patricia Arquette)
Fred's possibly unfaithful and beautiful wife, who was corrupted by working for porn mogul Mr. Eddy; she was cheating on Fred by sleeping with Mr. Eddy - and it was possible that she was having sex with porn-co-star Andy; she was vengefully murdered by husband Fred
Alice Wakefield
(Patricia Arquette)
She was the mistress of Mr. Eddy, and one of his porn actresses; Alice began to have secret sexual liaisons with Pete; she wanted to drop Mr. Eddy and leave town with Pete, but during sex in the desert strangely whispered to him: "You'll never have me"; by the film's conclusion, she seemed to have never existed
Mr. Eddy (aka Dick Laurent)
(Robert Loggia)
A brutal gangster and porn mogul-producer (with the name Dick Laurent), one of Pete's auto-shop customers; Alice was his mistress and one of his porn actresses; he was shot dead by the Mystery Man (with Fred watching) for corrupting Fred's wife Renee and having sex with her
Mystery Man
(Robert Blake)
A creepy, pasty-faced man who claimed he was in Fred's house and took videotapes of Fred and Renee; he represented the dark or insane side of Fred's personality, that killed Renee and shot Mr. Eddy dead

  • the final few lines of dialogue were between the two detectives who were looking over the crime scene in Andy's luxurious home where there was clear evidence that Pete Dayton had burglarized and killed Andy, Renee's porn co-star and producer buddy (with the help of a scheming Alice, who no longer seemed to exist). The officers noticed a photograph of Mr. Eddy, Renee, and Andy (earlier in the film, Alice was also in the same photo):

    Al: "Ed. Take a look at this!"
    Ed: "Yeah. That's her all right. That's Fred Madison's wife with Dick Laurent."
    Another detective: "And Mr. Dent-Head [Andy] over there."
    A second detective: "We got Pete Dayton's prints all over this place."
    Al: "You know what I think, Ed?"
    Ed: "What is it, AI? Whaddya think?"
    Al: "I think there's no such thing as a bad coincidence."

  • after returning from the desert in Mr. Eddy's Mercedes, Fred arrived at the front of his home and told himself at his house's intercom callbox that Dick Laurent was, in fact, dead - the quote from the film's opening
  • when the two detectives arrived at the house and saw Fred, they pursued after him to arrest him - leading to a chase into the desert, where he screamed as he proceeded down the vortex of a 'lost highway' (the same image underlying the title credits sequence) and then seemed to vanish

Fred Madison (Bill Pullman)
Start of Film:

Fred Listening to Intercom Recording of His Own Voice: "Dick Laurent is dead."

Renee Madison (Patricia Arquette)

Fred Had Sex With Wife Renee, Before She was Dismembered and Murdered

(l to r): Ed and Al, Two Detectives Investigating the Case

The Mystery Man (Robert Blake) at Party (at Andy's House)

To Fred: "We've Met Before, Haven't We?"

Renee Murdered and Dismembered by Fred

In Prison, Fred Morphed into Pete Dayton (Balthazar Getty)

Mr. Eddy (aka Dick Laurent) (Robert Loggia), Porn Mogul

Alice Wakefield (Patricia Arquette), Mr. Eddy's Blonde Mistress and Porn Actress

Flashback: Alice Forced to Strip at Gunpoint for The Corrupt and Brutal Mr. Eddy

The Framed Photograph (With Renee and Alice Together)

The Framed Photograph (now without Alice, Who Seemed to Never Exist)

End of Film:

Fred at His Intercom Callbox Recording: "Dick Laurent is dead" - the quote from the film's opening


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