24 Frames

Movies: Past, present and future

Category: Dennis Hopper

Around Town: Superman flies again and the New Wave returns

December 1, 2011 |  7:00 am


A Francois Truffaut retrospective, an animation festival and a screening of 1978’s “Superman” are among this week’s highlights.

The American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre celebrates the legacy of one of the founders of France’s New Wave cinema, Francois Truffaut, who died at the age of 52 in 1984. “The Film Lover: A Francois Truffaut Retrospective” commences Friday evening with his first feature film, 1959’s “The 400 Blows,” his critically acclaimed autobiographical drama about a troubled young boy, Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Leaud in a stunning performance). The second feature is Truffaut’s third entry in the Antoine Doinel series, the 1968 romantic comedy “Stolen Kisses,” with Leaud and Delphine Seyrig.

Truffaut pays homage to one of his icons, Alfred Hitchcock, in his 1968 mystery thriller “The Bride Wore Black,” starring Jeanne Moreau in the title role, which screens Saturday. Also on tap is his 1962 masterwork, “Jules and Jim” with Moreau and Oskar Werner. The retrospective concludes Sunday with his 1960 film noir, “Shoot the Piano Player” with Charles Aznavour, and 1980’s World War II drama “The Last Metro,” with Gerard Depardieu and Catherine Deneuve. http://www.americancinematheque.com

Cinefamily’s Silent Movie Theatre gets highly animated this week. The “Animation Breakdown” begins with “An Evening With Don Hertzfeldt” on Thursday, featuring the L.A. premiere of his latest animated short, “It’s Such a Beautiful Day.” The filmmaker will be appearing in person. On Friday, Cinefamily shines the spotlight on Polish animation with several shorts by noted animators including an exclusive presentation of the Brothers Quays’ latest film, “Maska.” Saturday afternoon’s offering is a sneak preview of Pixar’s newest short film, “La Luna,” six months before its theatrical release. Later in the afternoon, Cinefamily presents a cast and crew reunion of the Cartoon Network series “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast.”

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Dennis Hopper's on-screen tribute, coming this fall

May 30, 2010 |  4:18 pm

Posthumous screen appearances can be a little eerie, like hearing a phone message from someone after they passed away. But they can also be touching reminders of an actor's legacy -- and because the person is acting, a chance to see them in a guise far different from their frail final days.

With its lag between production and release, moviedom has a long history of posthumous roles. Heath Ledger gave us creepy villainy in "The Dark Knight," which came out six months after he died. Massimo Troisi conveyed poetic beauty in "Il Postino."

We probably won't get those tour de force moments in Dennis Hopper's posthumous turn. But the prolific actor will bring his spirit to a movie screen one last time with "Alpha and Omega," an independently made 3-D animated film that Lionsgate will release in September.

The movie itself will probably break little creative ground; judging by the trailer, the story of a dominant female wolf (Hayden Panettiere) and timid male one (Justin Long) who form a bond when transplanted to Idaho to repopulate the species will feature all the familiar wisecracking animals and easy life lessons common to "Madagascar," "Bolt" and other awards-worthy fare.

But the appearance of Hopper as a wolf named Tony will, at the very least, give it a poignant touch. There's talk that the film will be dedicated to him, and if Lionsgate can hit the right marketing note (a studio representative said Sunday it was too early to comment on plans), the film can take on the feel of a celebration of Hopper's diverse career. (Of course the challenge will be to get the more grown-up Hopper fans to see a film about young cartoon wolves in love.)

It's worth noting that in the annals of posthumous screen appearances, no one did it with as much force or spectral presence as James Dean, who appeared on the screen in the oil drama "Giant" despite his death in a motor accident before the movie was even edited. Dean's co-star in the film? A young actor named Dennis Hopper. The cycle continues.

-- Steven Zeitchik


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Hopper: My complicated relationship with James Dean

May 30, 2010 | 12:25 pm

  James Dean Rebel
When the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian Theatre kicks off its "Widescreen Wednesdays" series this week with a terrific James Dean double bill, 1955's "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause," it will take on more poignancy because of the death of Dennis Hopper, who made his big-screen debut in "Rebel Without a Cause." 

Hopper, then 18, had received nice reviews in early 1955 after playing a young epileptic in the medical series “Medic" and was cast as one of the high school gang members who plagued Dean in “Rebel.” (As soon as “Rebel” wrapped, Hopper landed a much bigger role in “Giant,” Dean’s final film before this death.)

Although I never met Hopper, I talked to him on the phone a few times, including a decade ago when six surviving stars of "Rebel" reunited for a screening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Hopper told me he thought he was “the best young actor around” until he saw Dean on the set of “Rebel. He told Dean: “I don’t have a clue what you are doing, but I know how great you are. What should I do? Should I stop my contract [at Warner Bros.] and go study with Lee Strasberg in New York?”

Dean took him aside and gave him advice: “He said you have got to start doing things and not showing them. He said don’t have any preconceived ideas about how the scene is going to play. Just go on a moment-to-moment reality level, and don’t presuppose anything.”

Hopper also related that Dean was standoffish toward him on “Rebel.” It wasn’t until “Giant” that they became friends.

"He was really into his work and acting,” Hopper recalled. “I was 18, and he was five years older. That is really a big difference. His whole life was acting. Some days, he would come in, and you would say ‘hello’ to him, and he’d walk right by you. He was totally concentrated on what he was doing. Other days, he was open and gracious."

-- Susan King

Photo: James Dean's knife-fight scene from "Rebel Without a Cause," with a young Dennis Hopper at the far right. Credit: Warner Bros. Inc.

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

R.I.P., Dennis Hopper

May 29, 2010 | 10:57 am

Dennis Hopper died Saturday morning in Southern California at the age of 74. Hopper, who had been suffering from prostate cancer for some time, was of course a screen legend who had roles in numerous films including "Rebel Without a Cause," "Apocalypse Now" and "Blue Velvet," and of course also directed, co-wrote and co-starred in the generation-defining "Easy Rider."

He'll also be heard on the big screen one more time, as he appears as one of the lead voices in Lionsgate's animated "Alpha and Omega," which comes out on September 17.

We were reminded of all of those roles, as well as his appearance receiving his star on the the Hollywood Walk of Fame, when we heard of his death. "Everything I learned in my life, I learned from you," he told the assembled group of family and friends as he received the honor. Here's The Times' obituary of Hopper's rich and at times complicated life, and, below, The Times' video of the Walk of Fame ceremony.

--Steven Zeitchik

Hollywood Star Walk

A new Times database puts readers on the sidewalks of Hollywood, using more than a century of archives to track the lives of the stars, including recent Oscar winners Jeff Bridges and Sandra Bullock and recent honorees Dennis Hopper and Russell Crowe.

Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by the Los Angeles Times. The Times Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.

Dennis Hopper's star shines in Hollywood

March 26, 2010 |  3:37 pm

157453.ME.0326.hopper.08 Months after revealing that he was battling prostate cancer, Dennis Hopper was back in front of the cameras on Friday morning when he received the 2,403th star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.

The 73-year-old actor, who disclosed his cancer last October, appeared to be in good spirits as he arrived for  the ceremony on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the Egyptian Theater. He appeared having lost a significant amount of weight; his face, shaded partly by a newsboy cap, appeared gaunt and a heavy jacket hung off his body.

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