Sunday, May 30, 2010

Dennis Hopper

I had come to appreciate Dennis Hopper on a whole new level within the past several months. I watched both Giant and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which he filmed very early in his career in 1956 and 1957, respectively. And though they were only his third and fourth film roles, both of these were supporting roles with meat to them. He held his own with the likes of Burt Lancaster, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. With his recent passing away at the age of 74, one of the very few links to the old Hollywood is gone.

Very little of this will be mentioned in the obituaries on his career. They'll instead start where most people do with Hopper: 1969 and the watershed of Easy Rider. Any mention of his early years will focus on his friendship with James Dean, with whom he would work with in Rebel Without a Cause and Giant. And after watching the two of them together in Giant, I must admit that, in my opinion, Hopper was the better actor of the two.

So instead of wondering what kind of career Dean would have had had he not crashed his Porsche Spyder in 1955, I would prefer to marvel at the career Hopper did have. It was a long, strange trip, and we're all the better off for it.

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