DENNIS HOPPER: A Madness to His Method by Elena Rodriquez

DENNIS HOPPER: A Madness to His Method

Email this review


The brief burst of glory, fall, comeback and recovery of James Dean's most troubled idolater. Raised on a Kansas farm, movie-obsessed Hopper was told during WW II that his father had died on a munitions ship. After the war, Dad appeared out of the blue, he and his wife alone knowing that his death had been ""an elaborate coverup because his father had been working in top-secret intelligence."" Dennis was thrilled but also felt deeply betrayed. Upon this he bases his understanding of his later rebellion against adult authority figures, and first-book author Rodriquez accepts his idea. The family moved to California, where high-school stagework, summer stock, and an intro by Dorothy McGuire got Dennis work on TV when he was only 18. Later, he fell in with James Dean on the set of Rebel Without a Cause, and they bonded their friendship working together in Giant. Dean's death blew Dennis to pieces and his career went into a long, draggy slump and a ruinous marriage to Brooke Hayward, Margaret Sullivan's daughter. All the while, Dennis railed against Hollywood and promised an anti-establishment work of genius when he had his shot at directing--which came a decade with Easy Ra'der. But again he went into a druggy slump, produced the disastrous The Last Movie, and did not really come back until hitting bottom and joining A.A. Then came sober roles in Blue Velvet and an Oscar nomination for Hoosiers. He's now back directing, sober and tightly wrapped. Sympathetic, with absorbing clinical detail about Hooper's nervous breakdowns and upbeat on the recovery.

Pub Date: Dec. 19th, 1988
Publisher: St. Martin's