10 June 2010


Over the past few weeks, two actors I hold quite dear to my heart passed away: Dennis Hopper and Rue McClanahan. Obviously, this isn’t news to anyone, but as I was amid a death in my own family, I wasn’t able to post anything until now. Though she appeared in over 20 films, McClanahan will always be remembered best for the small screen, as that tarty firecracker Blanche Devereaux on The Golden Girls. A Southern belle with a charming vanity and a healthy appetite for men, Blanche gave McClanahan the opportunity to put all of her talents to their fullest effect, after previously playing recurring characters on Maude (also with Bea Arthur) and, yes, Mama’s Family. Though less recognized than her television work, McClanahan’s film career consisted of several great oddities, including playing a biology teacher in Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers, Gina Gershon’s mother in a film adaptation of Jim Thompson’s short story This World, Then the Fireworks directed by Michael Oblowitz and Mervyn Nelson’s little-seen, Boys in the Band-esque Some of My Best Friends Are from 1971, which co-starred Candy Darling, Sylvia Sims, Gil Gerard, Dick O’Neill and gay porn star Calvin Culver (Score, Ginger, Boys in the Sand). My favorite little obituary for Rue was written by Michael K. at Dlisted who said, “Thank you for playing a character that showed me it’s okay to be a big ass slut with a bitchy tongue as long as you do it while wearing pastel florals.” He also posted a quote from the last remaining Golden Girl Betty White the same day.

Where does one start with Dennis Hopper? I guess everyone can choose how they’ll remember him best, and I have a feeling a lot of the people I know will be channeling his memory through his performance as Frank Booth in Blue Velvet. From his screen debut in Nicholas Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause, Hopper’s appearances onscreen were consistently unpredictable, working steadily for six decades. His outings as a director were a lot more intermittent. After achieving a cult hit with Easy Rider, his follow-up The Last Movie–which placed Hopper opposite a wild cast that included Tomas Milian, Samuel Fuller, Sylvia Miles, Peter Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, Henry Jaglom, John Phillip Law, Michelle Phillips, Dean Stockwell, Russ Tamblyn and Toni Basil–is still relatively unknown to this day. Hopper had his name taken off the film Catchfire in 1990 after Vestron Pictures decided to cut his three-hour version; the film, which starred Jodie Foster and a lot of other famous actors, was later released with the title Backtrack, twenty-minutes longer but still an hour short of Hopper’s intended version. His other directing credits include Out of the Blue, the neo-noir The Hot Spot with Don Johnshon, Virginia Madsen and Jennifer Connelly, the police drama Colors and the terrible Chasers with Tom Berenger and Erika Eleniak. I could probably spend a lot more time talking about some of his great performances throughout the years, but that could take a really long time. Some of the highlights, in my eyes: in a loincloth beside Taylor Mead in Andy Warhol’s close-to-unwatchable Tarzan and Jane Revisited… Sort of; running naked through a train in Henry Jaglom’s Tracks; playing “Tom Ripley” in Wim Wenders’ The American Friend [Der amerikanische Freund]; on incredible amounts of drugs as a photojournalist in Apocalypse Now; playing a police lieutenant in Tobe Hooper’s weird-as-fuck sequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre; making a cameo as Grace Jones’ lover in Alex Cox’s Straight to Hell; giving Christopher Walken a history lesson on Sicily in True Romance; planting bombs on buses in Speed; bringing the reptilian villain King Koopa to life in the film version of the Super Mario Bros. video game; raving about the future of video as it pertains to cinema in Abel Ferrara’s The Blackout; bringing about the only moments of joy to George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead; and lending advice to Ben Kingsley about his affair with Penélope Cruz before perishing at wife Debbie Harry's side in Isabel Coixet’s Elegy. So, Dennis and Rue, as Frank Booth would say, here's to your fucks.

Notable Filmography

Rebel Without a Cause, 1955, d. Nicholas Ray
Giant, 1956, d. George Stevens
Night Tide, 1961, d. Curtis Harrington
The Thirteen Most Beautiful Boys, 1964, d. Andy Warhol
Tarzan and Jane Regained… Sort of, 1964, d. Andy Warhol
The Trip, 1967, d. Roger Corman
Cool Hand Luke, 1967, d. Stuart Rosenberg
Hang ‘Em High, 1968, d. Ted Post
Head, 1968, d. Bob Rafelson
Easy Rider, 1969
True Grit, 1969, d. Henry Hathaway
The Last Movie, 1971
The Other Side of the Wind, 1972, d. Orson Welles
Mad Dog Morgan, 1976, d. Philippe Mora
Tracks, 1977, d. Henry Jaglom
Der amerikanische Freund [The American Friend], 1977, d. Wim Wenders
Les apprentis sorciers [The Sorcerer’s Apprentice], 1977, d. Edgardo Cozarinsky
Apocalypse Now, 1979, d. Francis Ford Coppola
Out of the Blue, 1980
Reborn, 1981, d. Bigas Luna
Human Highway, 1982, d. Dean Stockwell, Neil Young
Rumble Fish, 1983, d. Francis Ford Coppola
The Osterman Weekend, 1983, d. Sam Peckinpah
O.C. and Stiggs, 1985, d. Robert Altman
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, 1986, d. Tobe Hooper
River’s Edge, 1986, d. Tim Hunter
Blue Velvet, 1986, d. David Lynch
Hoosiers, 1986, d. David Anspaugh
Running Out of Luck, 1987, d. Julien Temple
Black Widow, 1987, d. Bob Rafelson
Straight to Hell, 1987, d. Alex Cox
The Pick-Up Artist, 1987, d. James Toback
Colors, 1988
Chattahoochee, 1989, d. Mick Jackson
Catchfire, 1990
The Hot Spot, 1990
Superstar: The Life & Times of Andy Warhol, 1990, d. Chuck Workman
Paris Trout, 1991, d. Stephen Gyllenhaal
The Indian Runner, 1991, d. Sean Penn
The Heart of Justice, 1992, d. Bruno Barreto
Super Mario Bros., 1993, d. Annabel Jankel, Rocky Morton, Roland Joffé, Dean Semler
Red Rock West, 1993, d. John Dahl
True Romance, 1993, d. Tony Scott
Chasers, 1994
Speed, 1994, d. Jan de Bont
Witch Hunt, 1994, d. Paul Schrader
Waterworld, 1995, d. Kevin Reynolds, Kevin Costner
Carried Away, 1996, d. Bruno Barreto
Samson and Delilah, 1996, d. Nicolas Roeg
Space Truckers, 1996, d. Stuart Gordon
Basquiat, 1996, d. Julian Schnabel
The Blackout, 1997, d. Abel Ferrara
Who Is Henry Jaglom?, 1997, d. Henry Alex Rubin, Jeremy Workman
Jesus’ Son, 1999, d. Alison Maclean
Leo, 2002, d. Mehdi Norowzian
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood, 2003, d. Kenneth Bowser
Tell Them Who You Are, 2004, d. Mark Wexler
Land of the Dead, 2005, d. George A. Romero
Sketches of Frank Gehry, 2005, d. Sydney Pollack
Inside Deep Throat, 2005, d. Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato
Chelsea on the Rocks, 2008, d. Abel Ferrara
Elegy, 2008, d. Isabel Coixet
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!, 2008, d. Mark Hartley
The Brothers Warner, 2008, d. Cass Warner
Palermo Shooting, 2008, d. Wim Wenders


J E Warner said...

please talk to me. Just for 5 minutes. 202-596-2890 or warnerj@vcu.edu

lolo said...

I love this site, thank you to all who are created, I learned many things, very positive, a thousand thank you.
voyance, Tarot Marseille