Dennis Hopper plays a George Lincoln Rockwell-like neo-Nazi in this creepy 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone.
Written by Rod Serling and directed by Stuart Rosenberg (Cool Hand Luke), “He’s Alive” is Serling at his preachiest but it’s a message that when it aired in January of 1963 was particularly relevant. At the time, The American Nazi Party and its psycho leader George Lincoln Rockwell were getting International attention. The roots of the White Power movement were beginning to take root and plenty of people were both repelled and drawn to Rockwell and his goose-stepping racist followers. Hopper’s jittery intensity suits the role perfectly. —Marc Campbell
by Rod Serling, 1957
Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Teleplays:
Photographs from the 25th Anniversary Blue Velvet Exhibit held in the Dennis Hopper Building, 20 Princess Street, Wilmington, North Carolina, November 9th through the 13th 2011. All of the photos were taken on location during the production of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet in 1985 by Peter Braatz.
Mysteries of Love is a 2002 documentary about David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, directed by Jeffrey Schwarz. The documentary includes clips from the film, footage and photographs from behind the scenes, and interviews with Lynch, Kyle MacLachlan, Isabella Rossellini, Dennis Hopper and others.
Fishing with John is a 1991 television series conceived, directed by and starring actor and musician John Lurie, which earned a cult following. The guests featured are film director Jim Jarmusch, actor Matt Dillon, musician Tom Waits, actor Willem Dafoe and actor-director Dennis Hopper.
John Lurie played a mean sax before pursuing acting, starring in some of Jim Jarmusch’s best films—Stranger Than Paradise and Down By Law, among others. But it was the 1990s television show he conceived and directed which really catapulted him into a cult obsession: the strange, wonderful, and hilarious Fishing With John. The concept of the show was simple: each episode, Lurie would take one of his pals to a certain locale around the world and fish. Just real men doing real things. Those pals also just happened to be Jim Jarmusch, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe, Dennis Hopper, and Matt Dillon. From Maine, Jamacia, and Thailand, Lurie would travel with his guest of honor and set out to brave the elements, search new territory, and, of course, catch some fish. The result was a fantastic exploration of finding the comedy in the mundane—the pleasure of watching two men sit on a boat in the heat or freezing to death on a frozen lake heightened to the surreal, with a narrated voiceover that could double you over. Tom Waits gets cranky, Jim Jarmusch is bored, Willem Dafoe dies, Dennis Hopper is…well, Dennis Hopper, and naturally a bit of disaster ensues. —Gone Fishing: An Interview With the Legendary John Lurie By Hillary Weston
All the episodes are available on YouTube, lets have some fishing fun!
- Jim Jarmusch: Fishing for shark off the coast of Montauk, New York State. Out here, the shark is at the top of the food chain.
- Tom Waits: Lurie and Waits fish for red snapper in Jamaica. Tom periodically becomes grumpy. A game of cards on dry land makes Tom feel much better. Waits catches a fish and puts it in his pants.
- Matt Dillon: Dillon and Lurie fish in San José, Costa Rica. Supernatural events ensue.
- Willem Dafoe: Ice fishing in northern Maine. Dafoe and Lurie run out of crackers and, the narrator tells us, starve to death.
- Dennis Hopper: The narrator happily reports that Lurie is still alive. Lurie and Hopper search for the mythical and elusive giant squid in Thailand, which also is apparently hunting them.
- Dennis Hopper: Part two in Thailand. The squid hypnotizes the protagonists with its “volley ball” sized eye. Deeper and deeper into Thailand, few are chosen.
— John Lurie (@lurie_john)
On the set of The Last Movie directed by Dennis Hopper
The American Dreamer (1971), a documentary portrait of Dennis Hopper is one of the great lost films of the early seventies. Made in 1971, as Hopper was basking in the glory of his Cannes winning film Easy Rider, and before the release of his second film The Last Movie (which would turn out to be a colossal bomb), The American Dreamer was filmed mostly around Hopper’s ranch in New Mexico and finds the bearded director (who could have strayed from the cover of The Band’s second album) baring his soul (and his ass) for the camera. Hopper’s musings on art, filmmaking, photography, sex and politics are wonderfully pretentious, including an incredible sequence where Hopper, with the need to feel “self conscious” strips off his clothes and walks down a sleepy LA suburban neighbourhood, balls naked. In between bouts of Hopper firing off various hand guns and rifles, and indulging in some softcore grappling with 2 girls in a bathtub, we see a pensive Hopper overseeing the endless editing on The Last Movie, while trying to stave off Universal who are anxious to see what Hopper did in Peru with all their money.
The American Dreamer remains commercially unavailable today; apparently the film has been kept out of circulation by Hopper himself, which is not surprising as the film is hardly a flattering portrait. In one unnerving sequence, he indulges in, some rather Manson-like group sex with a bunch of groupies, (which he calls a “sensitivity encounter”), and at one point, Hopper mentions that he has visited Manson in prison. In a cringe worthy sequence, Hopper declares he is a male lesbian — I’d rather give head to a woman than fuck them… Basically, I think like a lesbian. The American Dreamer was co-written and directed by L.M. Kit Carson who would go on to write Paris Texas and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre Part 2. The soundtrack is composed of awful folk songs, written for the film — at one point the track The Screaming Metaphysical Blues goes — Here’s to Mr. Hopper who traded in his chopper (?) with the two best songs, Outlaw Song and the title track are by The Byrd’s Gene Clark. The film may not be officially available but can be found through the usual channels, and for Dennis Hopper fans and students of American independent Cinema, it is required viewing. —Plutonium Shores
Previously on Cinephilia and Beyond:
Easy Rider LaserDisc Commentary with writer/director/actor Dennis Hopper
On March 17, 1994 I visited writer/director Quentin Tarantino at the Los Angeles house where he was editing his new film, Pulp Fiction, a trilogy of stories set in contemporary Hollywood whose cast includes John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, and Christopher Walken. While his staff had lunch, we talked and took pictures. —Dennis Hopper
Blood Lust Snicker Snicker in Wide Screen
Dennis Hopper/Quentin Tarantino
Great list of Fresh Air Film interviews 2009-2012.
‘Waterfront’ Screenwriter Budd Schulberg
August 7, 2009 | NPR · Screenwriter Budd Schulberg, who wrote the screenplay for On the Waterfront, died Aug. 5 at age 95. Fresh Air remembers him with an interview he gave in 1990 — plus excerpts of chats with Elia Kazan and Eva Marie Saint.
The ‘Big Fan’ Team: Patton Oswalt, Robert Siegel
August 20, 2009 | NPR · The King of Queens star and the writer of last year’s acclaimed film The Wrestler have collaborated on a wrenching movie about an obsessive football fan whose life is upended after a brutal encounter with his favorite player.
Cinematographer Gordon Willis, Setting the Scene
November 13, 2009 | NPR · The Academy Awards aren’t until February, but cinematographer Gordon Willis is receiving his honorary Oscar for lifetime achievement award this fall. Willis is the visual mastermind behind classic films like Annie Hall, The Godfather, and Pennies From Heaven. We tip the hat in his direction with a rebroadcast of a 2002 conversation about his life behind the lens.
Will The Real Woody Allen Please Stand Up?
December 29, 2009 | NPR · Woody Allen may have played his share of mousy intellectuals in his films, but he says that growing up, he was always “picked first for the team.” On the occasion of his 40th movie, Whatever Works, Allen joins Terry Gross to talk about his inspiration and life behind the lens.
Lucas Looks Back On Movie-Making
January 6, 2010 | NPR · George Lucas talks about his early days making movies with Spielberg and Coppola, his latest book George Lucas’ Blockbusting,, and the technological innovations that revolutionized the movie-biz.
Anarchic Actor, Artist Dennis Hopper, 1936-2010
June 1, 2010 | NPR · Fresh Air remembers the iconic screen actor, who starred in such films as Easy Rider, Hoosiers and Apocalypse Now. Hopper sat down with Terry Gross in both 1990 and 1996 to discuss his film career, his battle with drugs and his career as an artist.
Robert Duvall: From ‘The Godfather’ To ‘Get Low’
July 22, 2010 | NPR · The Academy Award-winning actor details some of his most memorable roles, including his portrayal of Tom Hagen in The Godfather and Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore in Apocalypse Now. He also describes his latest role, a hermit planning a “living funeral,” in the upcoming film Get Low.
Fresh Air Remembers ‘Bonnie And Clyde’ Director
October 1, 2010 | NPR · The legendary filmmaker who directed Alice’s Restaurant and Bonnie and Clyde died on Tuesday. He was 88. Fresh Air remembers Penn with highlights from a 1989 interview.
Fresh Air Remembers ‘Spartacus’ Star Tony Curtis
October 1, 2010 | NPR · Actor Tony Curtis, whose notable roles included parts in The Sweet Smell of Success and Spartacus died on Wednesday night of heart failure. He was 85. Fresh Air remembers the legendary actor with highlights from a 1991 interview.
Michael Caine Reflects On His ‘Hollywood’ Career
November 2, 2010 | NPR · Michael Caine has been acting on stage and screen for more than 50 years. He shares some of his favorite memories, including the advice John Wayne gave him during his first week in Hollywood, in his memoir, The Elephant to Hollywood.
Coen Bros. On Wet Horses, Kid Stars: It’s A Wild West
January 12, 2011 | NPR · Joel and Ethan Coen’s latest film is an adaptation of the Charles Portis western novel True Grit. The filmmakers and writers discuss the making of the film and the difficulties of working with both child actors and horses.
Sidney Lumet: A Director Who Gave Actors His All
April 15, 2011 | NPR · Fresh Air remembers director Sidney Lumet — who died Saturday at age 86 — with excerpts from a 1988 interview. One of Hollywood’s most prolific directors, Lumet created more than 40 films, including Network, Serpico, Fail-Safe, Dog Day Afternoon, The Wiz, The Verdict and Prince of the City.
Francis Ford Coppola Reflects On His Film Career
November 22, 2011 | NPR · At this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, the director of Apocalypse Now and the iconic Godfather films shared memories and anecdotes with a sold-out crowd.
Trent Reznor: The Fresh Air Interview
December 19, 2011 | NPR · The man behind Nine Inch Nails composed the music for the U.S. film adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Here, he discusses composing the film’s unsettling score, his early days making music in Cleveland and his work with Nine Inch Nails.
Peter Fonda recently said that he wrote the script for Easy Rider without the aid of drugs between 1:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. in a low-rent Toronto motel.
You wrote Easy Rider in Toronto?
I was sitting in Toronto on Sept. 27, 1967, and I started at 1:30 in the morning and finished at 4:30 a.m. I was at the Lakeshore Motel — pretty seedy then and something tells me it’s still pretty seedy now.
What were you doing in Canada?
I was in the middle of promoting The Trip, which Jack Nicholson had directed, and figuring out what my next film would be.
Did you know how big that film would be?
I like anything that rocks the boat and makes people want to see the movie again. That’s good repeat attendance, and I knew Easy Rider would rock the boat. I remember when it was finished, 4:30 a.m. at the Lakeshore Motel, I called Dennis Hopper. It was 1:30 in the morning L.A. time.
What’s Dennis Hopper doing at 1:30 a.m. in 1967?
Dennis was asleep! I remember his wife answered and I told her to go wake him up.
What do you miss most about your friend?
He introduced me to so many things in the art scene. He was such a creative person and early on, Dennis said, “I’m going to take this young man under my wing.” He was only a few years older than me, but I’ll always miss our connection.
I have to ask you: it’s 4:30 a.m. in Toronto at the Lakeshore Motel in 1967 and you’ve just finished Easy Rider. Are you high?
I don’t think I would’ve been able to write a story on LSD! I was promoting The Trip, but no, I wasn’t doing LSD at the time. Drugs have been a ribbon attached to the chest of the ’60s, but it’s the battle ribbon of the ’80s — all that cocaine — that brought the roof down.
Do you recall your first reaction when Dennis Hopper contacted you?
My first instinct was to turn him down, because I had had my fill of biker films. I went to the meeting, and Dennis tossed the script aside and acted out all the parts. It was a story about two hippies, played by Dennis and Peter Fonda, who search for freedom by making money selling dope. They travel to New Orleans by motorcycle and meet Jack Nicholson, a small-town lawyer. I realized it was a great story about my adopted land. At the end of that meeting, I asked Dennis when we were going to begin. —Laszlo Kovacs on the 35th anniversary of Easy Rider
Paul Newman photographed by Dennis Hopper in 1967. Courtesy of Taschen/Tony Shafrazi Gallery
Dennis Hopper was known to most for his contributions to film — as an actor or director in films like Rebel Without A Cause, Easy Rider, Apocalypse Now and Hoosiers. But he was also a successful painter, a sculptor and, through it all, a photographer.
Superb portrait of Paul Newman by Dennis Hopper is.gd/dPq2hZ— LaFamiliaFilm (@LaFamiliaFilm) November 16, 2012
“I Was A Big Filmmaker.” A piece of a fun 1971 Merv Griffin interview with Dennis Hopper, who had just shown Hollywood a way out of its post-Studio System doldrums with the cheap indie smash, Easy Rider, and was in the process of undermining his own newly booming career with the quixotic, drug-fueled mess, The Last Movie.
“I Found Myself Walking Nude Somehwere In Mexico.” Dennis Hopper interviewed by David Brenner in 1986, just as David Lynch released his masterpiece, Blue Velvet, which would lead to a career renaissance for the actor. Hopper was married for a few years to Daria Halprin.
photos by William Claxton
In 1983 Dennis Hopper went to Rice University in Houston, Texas ostensibly to screen his latest film Out Of The Blue. But little known to anyone, other than Hopper and a handful of his buddies, he had another agenda entirely. While he did indeed screen his movie, Hopper had actually come to Houston to blow himself up. After screening Out Of The Blue, Hopper arranged to have the audience driven by a fleet of school buses to a racetrack on the outskirts of Houston, the Big H Speedway. Hopper and the buses arrived at the speedway just as the races were ending and a voice was announcing over the public address system “stick around folks and watch a famous Hollywood film personality perform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act. That’s right, folks, he’ll sit in a chair with six sticks of dynamite and light the fuse.”
Was famous Hollywood personality Dennis Hopper about to go out with a bang? Hopper apparently learned this stunt when he was a kid after seeing it performed in a traveling roadshow. If you place the dynamite pointing outwards the explosion creates a vacuum in the middle and the person performing the stunt is, if all goes according to plan, unharmed. After bullshitting for awhile with the crowd and his friends, a drunk and stoned Hopper climbed into the “death chair’ and lit the dynamite.
Rice News correspondent describes the scene:
Dennis Hopper, at one with the shock wave, was thrown headlong in a halo of fire. For a single, timeless instant he looked like Wile E. Coyote, frazzled and splayed by his own petard. Then billowing smoke hid the scene. We all rushed forward, past the police, into the expanding cloud of smoke, excited, apprehensive, and no less expectant than we had been before the explosion. Were we looking for Hopper or pieces we could take home as souvenirs? Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again. At the moment, though, none of that mattered. He had been through the thunder, the light, and the heat, and he was still in one piece. And when Dennis Hopper staggered out of that cloud of smoke his eyes were glazed with the thrill of victory and spinout.
In this video footage shot by filmmaker Brian Huberman, we see Hopper in all his intoxicated glory before and after his death defying stunt. Huberman on the film clip:
The large guy making the sign of the cross is the writer Terry Southern and the jerk threatening to blow up my camera is the German filmmaker, Wim Wenders.
Here’s a piece of history folks.
Dennis Hopper knew Nicholas Ray for nearly 25 years. “Rebel Without A Cause” was Dennis Hopper’s first role in the movies. It was also the biggest hit of Nicholas Ray’s career, the film for which he would be best known. James Dean is the one who made “Rebel Without A Cause” far more than a movie. Dean’s presence in the film became one of the prime legends of Hollywood and America. You could say that Hopper and Ray would remain always as satellites in the stardom of James Dean.
Dennis was 5 years younger than Jimmy, the affectionate name by which he would be remembered among those attached to his short life and death at 24 years of age. Dennis admired Jimmy as a god of acting while Nick was amazed by the power of Jimmy’s imagination above all, something which Elia Kazan, who first directed Dean in “East Of Eden,” frowned upon in later years. Of course, Dean died a month before “Rebel” was released in 1955.
Dennis called Dean’s death “the most personal tragedy of my life.” Likewise, Nick Ray was overwhelmed with grief after Jimmy died. They had planned to make another movie together, even to form a production company. Dennis acted opposite James Dean again in “Giant” directed by George Stevens. Sal Mineo, who played Plato, the student tormented by his classmates in “Rebel” including Hopper, played a small role in “Giant.”.
During the filming of “Rebel,” Nick Ray, who was 43 years old, engaged in a romantic liaison with Natalie Wood, then 16. Simultaneously, Dennis also had an affair with Natalie, which caused tension with Nick. Dennis was 18 years old and once challenged Nick to a fistfight over Natalie’s affections, which Nick dismissed as immature. Dennis wanted to become James Dean, whom he considered a genius. At least, he was determined to become as good an actor as Dean. This ambition led to a confrontation with stern director Henry Hathaway during the filming of “From Hell To Texas.” Fed up with Hollywood, Dennis fled to New York to study acting under Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio. While in New York, Dennis shared an apartment with Anthony Ray, Nick’s son by his first marriage, born in 1937. Tony Ray played a part in “The True Story Of Jesse James” directed by his father in 1957. Tony also acted in the first feature film John Cassavetes directed called “Shadows.”
Flash forward to 1969. After wandering around Europe for years and unable to get another film project off the ground, Nick Ray sees Dennis Hopper again for the first time in years when “Easy Rider” wins a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Down on his luck, Nick borrowed money from Dennis. Nick tried to make a film about the Chicago Conspiracy Trial in 1970 but the project collapsed. Meanwhile, Dennis has shot a film in Peru called “The Last Movie,” which Dennis has written with Stewart Stern, the screenwriter of “Rebel Without A Cause.” Samuel Fuller, Nick’s old colleague and friend from Hollywood, played the director of the film within a film. Dennis invited Nick to visit his ranch in Taos, New Mexico where all the editing of the film would be done. According to Dennis, Nick stayed at his ranch for 5 months and ran up his telephone bill for thousands of dollars. From all reports, the scene in Taos was one of drugs and alcohol and guns, a haven of paranoia. Nevertheless, Nick called “The Last Movie” the greatest film made by a North American in years.
In 1971, Nicholas Ray accepted a teaching position at Harpur College of the State University of New York at Binghamton. Nick decided that the only way to teach filmmaking was to direct all his students in making a feature film based on improvisations. Nick invited Dennis Hopper to visit the university and to screen “The Last Movie.” However, the producer would not allow Dennis to screen the film to students, fearing that it would be a flop compared to the phenomenal hit “Easy Rider” became. Dennis arrived at Harpur College in October 1971 along with Howard Alk, who edited a film which was screened instead entitled “The Murder of Fred Hampton,” a powerful political documentary showing the real blood of a leader of the Black Panthers in Chicago slain by the FBI in a raid of his home. Dennis Hopper was famous among universities then in a way that would have made James Dean proud. In effect, “Easy Rider” was about what James Dean would have done in the 1960s if he had lived.
In 1977, Dennis Hopper played the title character in “The American Friend,” which put Wim Wenders on the international map as an important film director from West Germany. Nicholas Ray was recruited to play the character of a painter in New York’s SoHo supposedly dead but whose paintings are selling at auctions in Hamburg as forgeries. It was a convoluted plot with extraordinary locations, but Nick got to play opposite Dennis. Sam Fuller also played a role in this masculine tale of deception and betrayal, shifting from Hamburg to New York to Paris. The film ended with Nick on the deserted westside highway at dusk with the World Trade Center looming in the background. That’s the last time Nick and Dennis would work together. Nicholas Ray died in 1979. Dennis Hopper died in 2010.
A video essay by Dennis Hopper on his friend, Nicholas Ray. This piece uses scans of about a half dozen photos taken by Mark Goldstein from Binghamton, NY where Nick taught cinema in the early 70’s. Also some were used in “Live Fast, Die Young: The Wild Ride of Making Rebel Without a Cause” by Lawrence Frascella and Al Weisel published 10/05.
Nicholas Ray at SUNY Binghamton 1971-72
Source: Flickr / mg-irc
Quentin Tarantino talks about the evolution of True Romance from script to screen. “In Tarantino’s breathless audio commentary, he actually expounds on this. The writer states that Romance was his most ‘commercial’ script in the sense of not being overly esoteric and playing to better known aspects of popular culture. As noted, Quentin had creative differences with the director, most specifically on the ending. The theatrical ending, while not exactly feel-good, does play out in what may be thought of as stereotypical ‘Hollywood’ audience pleasing fashion. The writer defends Scott’s finale based on it being a personal choice and not a concession to popular tastes. Tarantino openly states this is not the ‘True Romance’ he would have made but finds the ending consistent with the overall ‘fairytale’ feel Scott brought to his adaptation.”
The rest of the post is here.
“In Tarantino’s breathless audio commentary, he actually expounds on this. The writer states that Romance was his most ‘commercial’ script in the sense of not being overly esoteric and playing to better known aspects of popular culture. As noted, Quentin had creative differences with the director, most specifically on the ending. The theatrical ending, while not exactly feel-good, does play out in what may be thought of as stereotypical ‘Hollywood’ audience pleasing fashion. The writer defends Scott’s finale based on it being a personal choice and not a concession to popular tastes. Tarantino openly states this is not the ‘True Romance’ he would have made but finds the ending consistent with the overall ‘fairytale’ feel Scott brought to his adaptation.”
Dennis Hopper on shooting the scene with Christopher Walken in True Romance:
Everywhere I go, all over the world, I was just in China making a film, I was just in South Africa making a film, I made a film last year in Germany – and everywhere I go they talk about this scene. We shot this in one day, Chris Walken and I. It was a wonderful wonderful creative day. When I first came in in the morning I saw that they were lit to do Chris Walken’s part first. They had three cameras and they had lit the trailer that way. And Tony came up to me, Tony Scott the director, and he said, “I just talked to Chris and Chris has a problem going first. He’d like you to go first. Do you mind that?” And I said, “As an actor, I don’t mind, but as a director, I’d go crazy. How do you feel about it? You’ve got a 2 1/2 hour lighting job to do here to turn it around.” Tony said, “It doesn’t bother me at all.” So I said, “Well, it’s fine with me.” So he re-lit the scene. It took about 2 1/2 hours to turn it around, put the three cameras on me. Tony Scott, a terrific director, one of the best I’ve ever worked with. Morgan Creek put a lot of money into promotion of this movie but it wasn’t successful when it was first released, financially. Artistically it was. I was never at a preview that didn’t have wonderful cards, 90% approval rating.
A lot of people think this scene was improvised but this was one of those rare scenes in a movie that Tarantino wrote, you have 3 pages of dialogue from one person, 3 pages of dialogue from the other – the only improvisation was, “You know, you’re all part eggplant” and he said, “You’re a cantaloupe” – those are the only improvised words, the rest of it is word for word what Tarantino wrote. I remember what my teacher Lee Strasberg said: If you watch people on a sound stage or in a radio booth where you can’t hear what they’re saying, you can tell whether they’re acting or not just by the way they’re behaving. And it looks like Chris and I are living and not acting here. Just before we shot the scene, Tony said, “Now, I’ve got this one gimmick where I’m gonna put the gun right up to your head and he can fire it because they’ve fixed the blanks so they won’t come out and you’ll see flame coming out the sides, but everything will be great.” I said, “I don’t really trust that.” He said, “Let me show you, I’ll do it to myself.” So he shot himself in the forehead. Blood started dripping down his face and he said, “Oh. Maybe I won’t do it that way.” He sent me a nice little card and he wrote on it, “If you ever need a stuntman …” and there was a picture of him with the bleeding on his forehead. Tony Scott couldn’t have been more wonderful to work with.
From the special edition of “True Romance”, selective commentaries special features.