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.