Friday, June 4, 2010

Dennis Hopper, the easy rider, is gone...

This is old news by now, but I thought I would pay tribute to Dennis Hopper. He was a hell of an actor. He played a lot of memorable parts IMHO.

The first time I recalled seeing him was in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now! He played a funky hippy reporter who was almost totally under the sway of the Coronel Kurtz cult. I am sure I saw him before that, but I never ID the actor or flagged his performance prior to that point.

The next time he popped up on my Radar it was in back-to-back performances in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which was outrageously funny, and the ultimate David Lynch classic Blue Velvet. I remember watching the Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 in Washington D.C., in 1986 just a few hours before John Elway led the Broncos to a victory over the Browns with The Drive. Actually, that just tied the game. The game winning field goal came in overtime.

Skip the Massacre. It's funny as hell watching Hopper chainsaw fight Leather Face, but the movie is pretty greazie. Blue Velvet is the movie you want to see. This is where Hopper played his most psychotic bad-guy. Don't think so? Check this out.

Most people would point at Easy Rider as his big project. Many people don't understand that he directed that movie as well. I don't understand why so much sound and furry surrounds that project. Ultimately, it signifies nothing. It was but a poor player that strutted and fretted it's time upon the stage and then was heard no more. It was a tale told by an... Well... I don't want to say that. I understand the historical facts surrounding this movie, despite the fact that I was just 2.5 years old when it was released. Nevertheless, the movie is cheazy, greazie, kornie stuff.

If you ask me, the ultimate Dennis Hopper moment came in Tony Scott's movie [written by Quentin Tarantino] True Romance. I still regard that as Quentin Tarantino's best bit of writing to-date. The movie is a mando-cane, truth is stranger than fiction, chain of coincidence, escalating crisis movie. There is a lot of dark comedy along the way. This movie has it all, action, drama, comedy, romance.

Hopper has an unforgettable scene in this movie with a fellow named Christopher Walken. Walken is perhaps my favorite character actor of all time. [Lance Hendrickson is another] In this scene, we learn about the origins of Sicilians. Believe me, in an era when political correctness was grabbing a strangle-hold on the nation, it took a lot of balls to execute ultra-incorrect humor like this.

Walken and Hopper show amazing acting chemistry in this scene. This scene works entirely because of the fact that these two actors crackle and boom together. For the rest of Hopper's life, folks in Hollywood were talking about getting him back together with Christopher Walken in some sort of a movie project... any sort of a movie project. They just wanted to see these guys bounce off each other again.

Regrettably, it never happened. Now it never will.