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Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    Highly recommeended - a must for all movie fans.

    Peter Winkler has produced the definitive biography of one of our finest stage and screen actors. Dennis Hopper: The Wild Ride of a Hollywood Rebel is the story of the talented but troubled man who excelled as an actor, director, photographer, and artist. Hopper was gifted with incredible creativity but was haunted by a volatile personality, difficult relatinships with women, and years of drug and alcohol abuse. Winkler tells the story of Dennis Hopper with insight and commendable empathy. Movie fans will enjoy reading about the life and times of a Hollywood icon.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2013

    "And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corn

    "And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say "Do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? 'If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you'..." - I mean, I'm no, I can't - I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's, he's a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas - I mean"

    This is 'crazy Dennis Hopper' as Francis Ford Coppola called him, from the film "Apocalypse Now." I love Dennis Hopper when he was in this crazy period; I also love him when he cleaned up and showed his true force as an actor in films such as "Blue Velvet" and "Hoosiers." Peter L. Winkler has written an extremely detailed account of the actor that led many lives and went through many transformations as an artist. Having devoured this excellent biography in a sitting, re-reading my favorite Hopper periods Wings of Wax, Lost in Taos being my favorite sections in the book. The Taos chapter, the longest in the book, is incredible; his filming of "The Last Movie;" Nick Ray staying at his house; the drugs, the madness, 'the horror, the horror.'

    Hopper is well chronicled from beginning to end in nine chapters, with great anecdotes strewn throughout. Book is cleanly written. "The Last Movie" being a cult favorite of mine, waiting for Criterion to release that lost gem; I love the detail in the book of Hopper wearing Dean's ring during that period. "Blue Velvet" and Frank Booth is given a half-a-dozen pages, ample; though, would've loved more from that masterful performance. What I really appreciated about this book are the details: filmography, bibliography, and index. This is a book I can go back to for the many great films and madness that was Dennis Hopper. Being a high school filmlit teacher and film historian, this is a fine piece of film history, a reference guide to Hopper as actor and director and his many facets. The great tornado that never slowed down even after he sobered up. His incredible comeback performances in "Blue Velvet," "Hoosiers," "River's Edge" are my personal favorites, as well as his mature turn in "Carried Away." I also loved his role in "Elegy" with Ben Kingsley, so many great performances, still waiting on a release of Wim Wenders' "Palermo Shooting"! Solid job on this!!!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Superb!

    Mr. Winkler writes about Dennis Hopper with immense wit and wisdom. The entire book is a page-turner and filled with vivid details; Mr. Winkler obviously did his homework here! This book should be read by each and every Dennis Hopper fan, each and every movie fan, and above all else, each and every superbly written book fan. Cheers to Mr. Winkler!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 4, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A full portrait of the one and only Dennis HopperBy Grady HarpĀ P

    A full portrait of the one and only Dennis HopperBy Grady Harp Peter L. Winkler has done the next to impossible task of making sense of the life of Dennis Hopper. Probably history will record the icon as one of the most enigmatic of Hollywood geniuses (think Orson Welles et al) but Winkler has taken a straightforward look at the life and influences of this wild man of cinema and the result is an immensely readable, very well written and researched biography, and if we're lucky some screenwriter will hone in on this book and convert it into a film honoring the wild man of Hollywood: Winkler writes so well that perhaps he will be the obvious candidate to take on that task!
    A bit of encyclopedic background for starters: Dennis Hopper (May 17, 1936 - May 29, 2010) was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. He began his acting career appearing in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause (1955) and Giant (1956). During the next 10 years, Hopper appeared frequently on television in guest roles, and by the end of the 1960s had played supporting roles in several films. He directed and starred in Easy Rider (1969), the cinematic symbol of the 1960s, a celluloid anthem to freedom, macho bravado and anti-establishment rebellion. He was unable to build on his success for several years, until a featured role in Apocalypse Now (1979) brought him attention. He subsequently appeared in Rumble Fish (1983) and The Osterman Weekend (1983), and received critical recognition for his work in Blue Velvet and Hoosiers, with the latter film garnering him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. He directed Colors (1988), played the lead character named after the movie title in Paris Trout, and played the villain in Speed (1994). He played another villain, King Koopa, in Super Mario Bros. (1993). Hopper's last performance was filmed just before his death: The Last Film Festival, originally slated for a 2011 release. Hopper was also a prolific and acclaimed photographer, a profession he began in the 1960s. He was married five times, addicted to cocaine and alcohol and died at his home in Venice, CA at the age of 74, due to complications from prostate cancer. These are the abrupt facts.
    What Winkler does with this information is weave a tapestry of an almost incontrollable Wildman whose actual life was far more entertaining than the memorable roles he created in movies and television. An aspect that makes Winkler's biography unique is his refusal to sensationalize any part of Hopper's life: he knows when to leave fact alone because in the manner in which he shares all the realities of Hopper's life he is able to prove that fact is stranger than fiction.
    For an enormously interesting `novel' few at present are as entertaining as Winkler's magisterial yet very human view of the life of Dennis Hopper. Grady Harp

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 30, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    After reading Peter Winkler’s book, “Dennis Hopper: The wild ride of a Hollywood rebel,” I had an epiphany. Dennis Hopper is Forrest Gump, the guy who does a little bit of everything in a big way. As a movie actor, director, producer, beatnik artist, poet, paramour, and businessman, Hopper had his finger on the pulse of creative America, and at the same time had his hands on some of the most famous women of his time. In a word, Hopper had a little bit too much fun. With quotes, anecdotes, and commentary Peter Winkler expertly draws us into the world of Dennis Hopper and shows us why Hopper defined the term “renaissance man.” Winkler’s style is economical and cuts through the fluff to get right to the heart of the matter. His storytelling ability kept me engaged, and wanting. A finely crafted and fun read that will even motivate you to get off the couch and start living life a bit more fully!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 7, 2011

    A Great Read

    This thoroughly researched biography tells the story of the richly eventful life of actor-artist-director Dennis Hopper without ever lapsing into fanboy gushing. I like how the author used excerpts from Hopper's interviews whenever possible. It almost reads like Hopper narrating his own story at times. The chapter on Easy Rider is especially impressive, as it sorts through conflicting accounts of the making of the film. Above all, the book was very entertaining.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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