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HOPPER by Tom Folsom

HOPPER

A Journey into the American Dream

By Tom Folsom

Pub Date: March 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0062206947
Publisher: It Books/HarperCollins

A hip biography of American actor, photographer and pop-art collector Dennis Hopper (1936–2010).

Folsom (The Mad Ones: Crazy Joe Gallo and the Revolution at the Edge of the Underworld, 2009, etc.) considers Hopper as an energetic acolyte of James Dean who cultivated a renegade persona through drug abuse, sexual wildness, violence and confrontations with directors as well as other studio figures over embracing method acting when it was regarded with skepticism. Spanning Hopper's beginnings in theater to a part in Rebel Without a Cause, his ambitious project in Peru, The Last Movie and a career resurgence later in life, the author emphasizes how the actor's talent was sometimes overshadowed by his reputation—to the extent that the actor once agreed in a 60 Minutes interview that his work could be regarded as a failure with moments of brilliance. Folsom’s tendency toward extended metaphors occasionally hinders the narrative—e.g., of Hollywood legends, he writes, “Up in the firmament, outside his [Peter Fonda’s] window, Brando, Dean, and Clift twinkled in the cosmos. Marlon’s comet shone brightest. It hooked around the sun, didn’t get sucked in, and then seemed to orbit around it. A celestial navigator, Fonda watched it come, exit, it was really incredible. The tail of the comet sent showers and meteors fizzing down through the atmosphere.” There are also several other instances of purple prose, but Folsom provides frank anecdotes regarding Hopper's fellow actors, such as Natalie Wood.

Occasionally overwritten, but a rich portrayal of an unconventional, free-wheeling thinker whose checkered experiences shock and beguile on the page.