Anthology Film Archives


December 2 – December 11

A Hollywood enfant terrible of the highest order, Dennis Hopper was a wildman, director, actor, photographer, art collector, and rebel. A survivor of the studio system (albeit after several ejections from Hollywood), Hopper created a bona fide countercultural phenomenon with his directorial debut EASY RIDER, a film that helped usher in a new era of filmmaking in America.

The infamy of his second project as director, THE LAST MOVIE, obliterated his chances at helming another film for nearly a decade, a task he took up again with OUT OF THE BLUE in 1980, fresh off a jolt to his acting career with his acclaimed role as the crazed photo-journalist in Coppola’s APOCALYPSE NOW. Out of this dark, drug- and booze-fueled period during which he shot holes in his walls (and, famously, in his Warhol Mao screenprint) in fits of paranoia – in his own words: “When the radio starts talking to you, then you know you’re in deep shit” – Hopper emerged alive and went sober. Most biographical sketches of Hopper jump from the failure of THE LAST MOVIE to his knockout performance as Frank Booth in BLUE VELVET (1986), but in this dark period of Hopper’s life came some of the most visceral and powerful acting roles of his career, including a handful that are all but unknown.

This series aims to shed light on the wrongly-maligned and largely forgotten roles that Hopper tackled between his ‘official’ successes, and to celebrate the unhinged energy that Hopper was unafraid to let loose on screen. There’s more to Hopper’s talent than his typecast roles as burnout or tortured maniac, more to his candor than can be explained solely by his legendary drug and alcohol use – no matter the role, Hopper brought a raw potency, intensity, and frankness, navigating an uncomfortable line that few other actors dare to tread.

Programmed by Jon Dieringer and Ava Tews. Special thanks to Cassie Blake (Academy Film Archive); Chris Chouinard (Park Circus); Kyle Greenberg (BOND/360); Lloyd Kaufman & John Brennan (Troma); Philippe Mora; Christopher Santacroce (The Hopper Art Trust); Lawrence Schiller; Frieder Schlaich (Filmgalerie 451); and John Simon.

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