Dennis Hopper has been getting a lot of respect and affection lately. I could write about him for days and never run out of material. He’s like some kind of Mt. Rushmore figure now, beloved for his hipster authenticity and storied wackness. With the exception of Frank in Blue Velvet and the wackjob villain in Speed, the crazier or more eccentric or self-destructive Hopper seemed to be on a personal basis, the better he seemed to be on-screen. The saner and healthier he got, the less he seemed to bring.
Dennnis Hopper a day or so ago at Mann’s Chinese, in Giant (’56), during his extra-bad period in the late ’70s, with Daria Halprin in the early ’70s.
I tried to interview him at a Manhattan hotel in ’80 about Out Of The Blue, and he kept me waiting for over two hours — guess why? But at least now I can say I blew off a Dennis Hopper interview, etc. I have that memory. He came down to the lobby at the last minute as I was walking out, and I remember that hyper look in his eyes.
I could write about Hopper’s degenerated, cowboy-hatted Tom Ripley in The American Friend (“I know less and less about who I am, or who anyone else is”) until I’m blue in the face. Or his jabbering photo-journalist in Apocalypse Now. I remember quite liking his direction of Colors (’88) and The Hot Spot (’94). I don’t know why a guy like Hopper would direct something like Chasers (’94) except for the money. I guess that was it.
I’ve never even seen The Last Movie (’71), which destroyed his cred as a serious/rational/trustable director. It screened at the Aero in January 2009. I’d buy it in a second if it came out on Bluray or DVD, even.