The one sentence on the cover of the I Don’t Know Jack DVD sums it up – “Every Lynch fan will want this – It’s an essential part of every library.” (Craig Miller with Wrapped in Plastic)
For those who attended a previous festival, you might’ve had the chance to see I Don’t Know Jack on Saturday night. But it’s now on DVD for everyone else to see and it’s great. You really don’t know Jack Nance until you see this and you still aren’t 100% for sure after watching.
A variety of interviewees help make up the DVD including David Lynch (who is unshaven and looks very tired), Catherine Coulson (the Log Lady from Twin Peaks and Jack’s first wife), Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs), Wayne Grace (Mulholland Drive), brothers of Jack, and some of his friends. Included is a revealing and emotional interview with Bobby Logan, director of Meatballs 4.
Logan discusses what happened when Jack was breaking up with his wife (Kelly van Dyke) over the phone while filming Meatballs 4. Van Dyke told him not to hang up or she would kill herself, when suddenly the storm outside caused the phone to go dead. Nance ran to Logan’s cabin, upset and trembling saying that he thought he killed her. A few hours later while at the police station nearby, they found out that Van Dyke hadn’t made it.
There aren’t only sad stories about Jack, but also funny ones, including two during the credits from Charlotte Stewart about Wheel of Fortune and David Lynch about a time when Jack caught a shark while fishing.
Covering the highlights of Jack’s career, the DVD focuses mostly on his work in the 70s and his substance abuse during that decade and the 80s. Dennis Hopper (Blue Velvet) discusses how he helped get Jack into rehab right about the time of Blue Velvet. For over a decade, Jack was sober (even through the suicide of his wife) until his last year after he told his brother that he had only a year to live. It was during this year that Jack Nance died after a run-in with some men who beat him up outside the a Winchell’s. Other things you learn about Jack include the fact that he was a Republican, he often carried a Bible, he had a very good memory and could easily quote sources often using Biblical Scriptures in everyday life, and his struggle with alcoholism. You’ll see never-before-seen footage and pictures that give you a new side of Jack Nance.
The DVD has a few extras including a photo montage, production notes, the I Don’t Know Jack trailer, ann the 7 Year Zig-Zag trailer. But the most interesting extra is the 22 minute film featuring the lead detective on Jack’s death, Kimmy Robertson (Lucy from Twin Peaks) and Richard Green (magician from Mulholland Drive). This short but interesting feature is edited a little strangely (lots of cutting back and forth), but discusses the “facts” of the case, including the lead detective’s views on the homicide. He never really comes out and says it, but the detective inferes that it is possible Jack Nance didn’t get into a fight at all, and actually had an accident in the bathroom causing the head damage that would later cause his death.
Sadly, there’s not a lot of David Lynch oriented documentaries out there. But luckily, I Don’t Know Jack is a great documentary for any fan of Lynch, and especially for any fan of Jack Nance. You get to see a side of Jack that you would never imagine, a human Jack Nance, one that you wish was still here with us.