Sunday, May 30, 2010

Daddy's Home

There are entertainment careers and then there's the career of Dennis Hopper, just passed at 74, who was an actor, director, photographer and headcase with the biggest ups and downs imaginable. Having hit Hollywood in the late 1950's he acted beside his idol, James Dean, in both the landmark Rebel Without a Cause and the blockbuster, Giant, then got himself banished due to Method acting on the set of a Henry Hathaway movie. Later reinstated by Hathaway himself, Hopper went on to ignite the Hollywood youth movement with his independent release, Easy Rider, which was not only Hopper's directorial debut but also made the long-struggling Jack Nicholson a star. No doubt directors like Scorsese and Spielberg have Hopper to thank for getting their breaks, but with his second film, the ill-fated The Last Movie, Hopper trashed it all in a drug-fueled orgy of endless principle photography and long-gestating over-editing that again made him a pariah.

After getting kicked out of the town of Taos for his psychotic behavior and pulling a gig on Apocalpyse Now -- like Giant, the over-budget scandal of its time, he went on to accidentally direct the low-budget Out of the Blue when the original director crapped out, doing a terrific job also acting as a ne'er-do-well dad just out of jail, mirroring his own struggles. He lobbied hard for and secured the indelible role of Frank Booth in David Lynch's 80's milestone, Blue Velvet, breaking some unknown gas and murmuring, "Daddy's home..." as he molested Isabella Rossellini. Colors was probably his biggest-budgeted directing effort, also in the 1980's, and he had the lead villain role in -- again the most expensive Hollywood picture to date -- Waterworld.

Along the way his accomplished photography and art world cred included a long friendship with Bruce Connor, in the very top tier of mid-20th century underground filmmaking pioneers.

A few months ago, Matt Zoller Seitz put together this terrific docu-video on Hopper. Enjoy:

I'd say, "Dennis, we hardly knew ye." But I think we did.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great clip!