Cast & Crew
Catherine E. Coulson
A double amputee attempts to write a letter while her nurse gets in the way.
The Amputee, Version 1 (1974) -
Having won a scholarship to the American Film Institute's Center for Advanced Film Studies, David Lynch traded classes at the Philadelphia Academy of the Fine Arts for hands on experience in Hollywood but he soon grew weary of academia. Wanting to immerse himself in the filmmaking process, Lynch got started on what would be his feature film debut. Eraserhead (1977) would take three years to complete, beginning in 1972; less than a year into principal photography, Lynch's funding dried up and production was halted. In the interregnum, Lynch's Eraserhead cinematographer Frederick Elmes was assigned to test out two different brands of black-and-white video stock that the AFI was considering buying. Though Elmes had planned to use simple test patterns for the comparison, Lynch convinced him to make a short film in two versions; Elmes agreed and Lynch dashed off a quick script. In both versions of The Amputee, Catherine Coulson (Lynch's assistant director on Eraserhead and then married to the film's star, Jack Nance) plays a bilateral amputee who sits composing an angry letter while a male nurse (Lynch) cleans and re-bandages her stumps. Coulson would later play "The Log Lady" on Lynch's cult-TV series, Twin Peaks.
By Richard Harland Smith