Who Hijacked Our Country

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dennis Hopper: 1936 — 2010

God, what a career he had. As far as I know, his first movie role was Rebel Without A Cause (1955), and he was still making films right up through 2009. (This site has a complete list of all of his films.)

Who would’ve guessed that stoned biker from Easy Rider would be a huge star for the next forty years?

He could do that certain crazed intensity that was unlike any other actor I can think of. Those characters (from Speed, River’s Edge, True Romance, The Pickup Artist, among others) always seemed like their warped gonzo craziness would explode onscreen, but they never quite did — like a pan of water that keeps on simmering at 211 degrees and doesn’t boil over.

If I had to pick a favorite — in that sick sort of way — Dennis Hopper character, it would be his role in River’s Edge (1986). It wasn’t one of his better known movies. I don’t remember if it was a big hit or not; it was probably too bleak and pessimistic to attract a lot of viewers. It was about the dead-end lives of a few white trash teenagers in a small town. Dennis Hopper was this crazed recluse that everyone was leery of.

The movie starts with a teenager (who looks like his IQ is about ten) strangling his girlfriend and hiding her body at the edge of a river. Later in the movie it turns out Dennis Hopper had killed his own girlfriend a long time ago. He was telling this same teenager about it, getting all poetic and emotional about why he’d killed her. It was actually moving, in that sick twisted Dennis Hopper sort of way.

He was saying something like “I was so overcome with love and emotion, I just lost control and I had to kill her.” Something like that. And then he said to the teenager, “What about you? Why did you kill your girlfriend?”

The kid just looks at him, deadpan, and says “she was talkin’ shit.”

So Dennis Hopper shot him.


Labels: , , ,


Blogger Teeluck said...

Such a great loss...he did well...

May 29, 2010 at 4:04 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

I did see Rivers edge and thought it surreal. I think Dennis always played himself so it wasn't to far a stretch.
He was interesting all on his own.
He will be remembered by us quirky ones cause we identified with him.

May 29, 2010 at 4:21 PM  
Blogger J. Marquis said...

That was a great role in a great movie.

I think my favorite was the character he played in "Blue Velvet". Man, was he scary.

May 29, 2010 at 4:41 PM  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Well, thanks a lot for the spoiler alert. That's OK, I don't care much for psycho killer movies. I've known enough of them in real life.

May 29, 2010 at 4:45 PM  
Blogger Beekeepers Apprentice said...

River's Edge was a cult classic...he was a total freak in that movie.

He'll be missed. There aren't that many who can effectively play freaks, and have the audience really like it.

May 29, 2010 at 4:48 PM  
Blogger Holte Ender said...

My favorite role was of that insane journalist in "Apocalypse Now" and also he had a role in the cheesy John Wayne movie "The Sons of Katy Elder"

May 29, 2010 at 6:36 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Ah yes, the Feck weed. I wonder if there's any beer left in that can.
River's Edge is a great movie. I still have a VHS copy of it to watch now and then. But as weird as his performance was, he was certainly out-weirded by Crispin Glover.
Dennis Hopper was one of our greatest actors, treasure that most people didn't appreciate. He never was a box office draw, but to me, he was a factor in whether or not I saw a movie.

May 29, 2010 at 10:06 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

He really was amazing.

May 30, 2010 at 3:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK where is our diversity? You have yet to mention Gary Coleman ;-)


May 30, 2010 at 5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Blue Velvet, Speed, and the Director's cut of Apocalypse Now



May 30, 2010 at 5:34 AM  
Blogger TomCat said...

I never saw River's Edge, but OI loved him in Easy Rider. He shall be missed.

May 30, 2010 at 10:52 AM  
Blogger Suzan said...

Thanks for the memories, Tom.

I also tried to see all of his films. I never quantified exactly what it was that drew me - guess I just thought he was worth my time and shouldn't be missed. What an original artist (and person) he was.

I miss him already.


And I agree with Tim:

He will be remembered by us quirky ones cause we identified with him.

May 30, 2010 at 12:17 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Teeluck: Yup, he did really well.

Tim: I never knew anything about him, but judging by yesterday's news articles, it sounds like his personal life was just like his movie characters.

J: I still haven't seen Blue Velvet. I love David Lynch; I've seen Mulholland Drive, Lost Highway and Wild at Heart a bunch of times.

Dave: Sometimes real life offers more psychodrama than any movie.

Bee: He played a wicked freak, that's for sure.

Holte: I've never seen Apocalypse Now, I hate to admit. Someday. I saw Sons of Katy Elder when it came out; I hadn't heard of Dennis Hopper at the time (Easy Rider was 2 years later).

Lew: That's true, Crispin Glover's character was pretty wacked out in that movie; a weird combination of effeminate and street punk.

Carlos: Yup, amazing.

Erik: He sure was over the top in Speed.

TomCat: Easy Rider was great. I still watch it (or parts of it) sometimes when it's on one of the movie channels.

Suzan: He sure made a lot of movies. Some of the movies on that list, I'd seen a long time ago but I forget he was in them.

Most people probably have an inner Dennis Hopper that's drawn to his movies.

May 30, 2010 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger Snave said...

Paris Trout, Speed, and Blue Velvet!

June 2, 2010 at 7:13 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home