7 Shots From 7 Films: Special Dennis Hopper Edition


Dennis Hopper (1936–2010)

4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films is just what it says it is, 4 (or more) shots from 4 (or more) of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 (or more) Shots From 4 (or more) Films lets the visuals do the talking.

85 years ago, Dennis Hopper was born in Dodge City, Kansas.

It seems rather appropriate that one of America’s greatest cinematic outlaws was born in a town that will be forever associated with the old west. Dennis Hopper was a rebel, back when there were actual consequences for being one. He started out acting in the 50s, appearing in films like Rebel Without A Cause and Giant and developing a reputation for being a disciple of James Dean. He also developed a reputation for eccentricity and for being difficult on set and he probably would have gotten completely kicked out of Hollywood if not for a somewhat improbable friendship with John Wayne. (Wayne thought Hopper was a communist but he liked him anyways. Interestingly enough, Hopper later became a Republican.) Somehow, Hopper managed to survive both a raging drug addiction and an obsession with guns and, after a mid-80s trip to rehab, he eventually became an almost universally beloved and busy character actor.

Hopper, however, always wanted to direct. He made his directorial debut with 1969’s Easy Rider, a film that became a huge success despite being an infamously chaotic shoot. The success of Easy Rider led to the Hollywood studios briefly trying to produce counter-culture films of their own. Hopper was given several million dollars and sent to Peru to make one of them, the somewhat dangerously titled The Last Movie. Unfortunately, The Last Movie, was such a bomb that it not only temporarily derailed Hopper’s career but it also turned Hollywood off of financing counter culture films. Hopper spent a decade in the Hollywood wilderness, giving acclaimed performances in independent films like Tracks and The American Friend, even while continuing to increase his reputation for drug-fueled instability. Hopper would eventually return to directing with his masterpiece, 1980’s Out of the Blue. (Out of the Blue was so controversial that, when it played at Cannes, Canada refused to acknowledge that it was a Canadian production. It played as a film without a country. Out of the Blue, however, is a film that has stood the test of time.) Unfortunately, even after a newly cleaned-up Hopper was re-embraced by the mainstream, his directorial career never really took off. He directed 7 films, of which only Easy Rider and Colors were financially successful. Contemporary critics often didn’t seem to know what to make of Dennis Hopper as a director. In recent years, however, Hopper’s directorial efforts have been reevaluated. Even The Last Movie has won over some new fans.

Today, on his birthday, we honor Dennis Hopper’s directorial career with….

7 Shots From 7 Dennis Hopper Films

Easy Rider (1969, dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Laszlo Kovacs)
The Last Movie (1971,dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Laszlo Kovacs)
Out of the Blue (1980, dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Marc Champion)
Colors (1988, dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Haskell Wexler)
The Hot Spot (1990, dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Ueli Steiger)
Backtrack (1990, dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Edward Lachman)
Chasers (1994, dir by Dennis Hopper, DP: Ueli Steiger)

One response to “7 Shots From 7 Films: Special Dennis Hopper Edition

  1. Pingback: Lisa’s Week In Review: 5/17/21 — 5/23/21 | Through the Shattered Lens

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