Book Review – Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

Dennis Hopper

Here at Jordan and Eddie we like to delve into all aspects of film including literary projects by film-makers. In doing book reviews we look to review those books either about films, by film-makers/actors or books that have been adapted either into a past or future film project. Happy reading!

Title – Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel

2011 Peter L. Winkler

Review by Jordan

When Dennis Hopper passed away aged 74 in May 2010, he took with him a feverishly imaginative spirit, the likes of which had never been seen before, and will never be seen again. Working in a business that strives to make actors one-dimensional – marketing tools to sell genre films and provide the audience with nothing more than what they’re expecting, Hopper refused categorisation, and perhaps this is why he never achieved the recognition he so richly deserved.

Peter Winker’s detailed account of Hopper’s life is an essential piece of reading for fans of not only the iconic actor/director but counterculture cinema in general, ranging from his early works with James Dean (Rebel Without a Cause, 1955) and Paul Newman (Cool Hand Luke, 1967), through his zeitgeist challenging period where he directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969) and The Last Movie (1971), his redemption after being lost in a wilderness of isolation and drug abuse with David Lynch’s essential Blue Velvet (1986) and his sole Oscar nominated turn as the town drunk in Hoosiers (1986) and finally concluding with him nestled in the hearts of the world audience in the ‘90’s (where he found his niche playing a villain) with True Romance, Red Rock West, Speed and the ill-fated but rollicking Waterworld. Perhaps his best role of the naughties, his tantalisingly accurate depiction of the Bush administration in George A. Romero’s return to his zombie roots Land of the Dead (2005) is included also.

An abundance of pages are also dedicated to Hopper’s passion for photography and art; he has been the subject of many galleries the world over, and famously worked with Andy Warhol back when the term ‘pop art’ hadn’t yet been coined. A number of photographs he took whilst on set, particularly during the filming of Cool Hand Luke and some of his earlier westerns, have become iconic images from this period of film history.

From rebel, to auteur, to cult figure; the life of Dennis Hopper was one filled with heartache, scandal, vision and ultimately reformation. With Easy Rider he represented the changing face of American cinema, and as Frank Booth he gave us one of the great performances of all time. When he passed away I shed a tear, but we can be thankful of the legacy he left behind.

4.5 Last Movies out of 5

5 responses to “Book Review – Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel (2011)

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