Created by Barry Gifford
Private eye JOHNNIE FARRAGUT is a simple guy. He likes oyster sandwiches, Johnny Walker Black Label and he's a keen short story writer. He also happens to be besotted with his ex-lover Marietta Fortune, who's a complete nut job and dangerous to boot, and not above who using Johnnie's love to get any number of favors. When Marietta asks Johnnie to track down her wayward daughter Lula and her ex-con boyfriend Sailor in Barry Gifford's Wild At Heart: The Story Of Sailor And Lula (1990), he accepts the case as a favour. Unfortunately for Farragut, Marietta has also enlisted the help of Marcello Santos, cold-eyed suitor and contract killer. Needless to say, it's not long before Santos' motley crew of bizarre psychopaths have caught up with the P.I. and his writing days are numbered.
As played by Harry Dean Stanton in David Lynch's film adaptation Wild At Heart (winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Flm Festival), Johnnie is the epitome of the hangdog, endearingly eccentric, but ultimately doomed private eye. Stanton was born to play the part, and his heartbroken portrayal of Farragut, exemplified in his torture scene, is nothing short of outstanding. In fact, despite his quirks (he delights in playing peekaboo with Marietta), he's one of the only sane characters in the film. Which would explain why Lynch extended his torture scene for the test audience, resulting in walk-outs. Barry Gifford, on the other hand, was a big fan of the adaptation. He worked with Lynch again on the movie Lost Highway.
But fear not, Farragut fans!
Even if Johnnie meets an early and untimely ending cinematically, the private eye in the books lives a much longer and fuller life.
In Wild at Heart, the novel where he made his debut, Farragut's part is small, but he is still a well-written character. As well as being is madly in love with Marietta, he also fancies himself as a writer for "The Twilight Zone", if the show wasn't cancelled. But where he dies in the movie, he goes back home in the book.
In the later stories of Sailor and Lula, Farragut is almost always present, and as in love with Marietta as always. He helps look for Lula and Sailor's kidnapped son, befriends gangster Marcello Santos, and -- always the sucker -- serves as best man when Marietta marries another man.
Respectfully submitted by Ray Banks. Additional info supplied by Bryan Schingle.