Tuesday, June 1, 2010

R.I.P. Dennis Hopper

Something occurred to me tonight when I was in the car and listening to an interview with Robert Duvall. I guess this goes without saying, considering the inexorable march of time, but all these actors, lets say, of a certain generation are going to passing away now sooner rather than later. And I mean the actors, such as, Dennis Hopper, who worked not only within the confines of the studio system, but also in the, to some, wild years of the 70's and beyond. Hopper is a particularly interesting case to me, in some ways he has been everywhere and done most everything, even going so far back as to work with James Dean in Giant and Rebel Without A Cause. He's also interesting as a person, once being a symbol of the counterculture and ending up becoming a Republican. Peter Biskind, in his book about the 70's film revolution, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls talks about an incident where John Wayne threatened to beat Hopper up on the set of True Grit because apparently some Black Panthers on his daughter's college campus swore around her. But to be honest he has been honored elsewhere better than I could. (Seriously, check those both out.) One thing is for sure, all this talk of Easy RIder has made me want to see it again. There's a good chance that my high school self might have given it short shrift back in the day.

That being said, I wanted to do something in this space, and I had actually forgotten about his turn in True Romance. I mean, at his scariest, and maybe my favorite Dennis Hopper performance, to be honest, is probably his amazing, truly scary turn as Frank Booth in Blue Velvet. But a rather large confluence of things I enjoy take place in this amazing scene from True Romance with Christopher Walken, two crazy heavyweights going at it. The Playlist mentions this in their article above about their favorite Dennis Hopper performances, but apparently until Quentin Tarantino wrote the opening scene to Inglourious Basterds, this was his favorite scene that he had written. And I wonder if that was not only because of the dialogue, but who ended up speaking that dialogue. It probably wouldn't have worked half as well with two other actors.

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