Saturday, 29 May 2010

Farewell Easy Rider (Dennis Hopper 1936-2010)

The world became a little bit less interesting today with the news of Dennis Hopper's passing. Obituaries and send-offs for the great man are everywhere so I'll just say that I first saw Dennis Hopper in Apocalyspe Now when I was 14 or 15, probably followed by Easy Rider or Blue Velvet. I've been a fan since. Glancing over his filmography in preparion for writing this post, I was again astonished by the wealth of movies he appeared - more personal favourites Hopper films and performances include, The Trip, The Last Movie Mad Dog Morgan, Tracks, The American Friend, Out of the Blue, Rumble Fish, Colors, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, River's Edge, Paris Trout, True Romance. Hopper worked with many of the greats of Hollywood - Nicholas Ray and James Dean (Rebel Without A Cause), George Stevens (Giant), John Wayne (The Sons of Katie Elder), Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke), Clint Eastwood (Hang 'Em High), Sam Peckinpah (The Osterman Weekend), Orson Welles (on the unfinished The Other Side of the Wind), Robert Altman (O.C & Stigs), Sean Penn (The Indian Runner).

Aside form his film work, Dennis Hopper was an accomplished photographer. His b/w photos are well worth seeking out - when Hopper wasn't shooting his friends (Jane Fonda and Paul Newman), he was quite brilliantly capturing the moods, tastes, faces and places of ordinary American life. His 1961 photograph Double Standard, shot from behind the wheel of car, with its gas stations, open roads, and small town life makes me think of Jack Kerouac's On the Road, or The Last Picture Show. And music fans will instantly recognize at least one Hopper photograph, which was by chosen by Morrissey to front a compilation of Smiths music.


  1. He was an amazing talent. I have mentioned that I worked with him - sadly on Super Mario Bros, but still awesome to have met him. But one other Hopper related bit - when I interviewed Dean Stockwell for Psychotronic Video magazine in the 90's - we spent some time chatting about The Last Movie - a film Stockwell still felt was ahead of even that current time twenty years after it was shot.

    Dennis Hopper kept a presence in Wilmington NC after SMB - he bought a building downtown with plans for an art gallery that was never quite completed. But people told stories of interacting with him whenever he came back to town between his many movie roles - and the stories are always positive. We lost someone amazing the day Dennis Hopper died.

  2. Ah that's great, I love hearing stories like that... Hopper is such a great presense in my film collection, and if I ever see Super Mario Brothers, I'm sure that too would be on that list ! Dean Stockwell I like very much, I used to love Quantum Leap when I was a kid, and my attention level always perks up when I see him onscreen, even in junk like Air Force One...