Daily Archives: November 10, 2020

Farewell to Dennis Hopper (R.I.P., 1936-2010)–and Farewell to Linda Manz (R.I.P., 1961-2020)

This obviously wouldn’t be an appropriate time to revive my negative review of Hopper’s Colors in the Chicago Reader 22 years ago, which can easily be accessed by anyone who might be interested. But I’d like to reproduce a couple of short paragraphs from it about my favorite Hopper film, which I continue to cherish:

To make sure my memory wasn’t playing tricks on me, I recently took another look at Hopper’s previous film, Out of the Blue (1980). Here was proof, if any is needed, that a celebrated burnt-out case came back to establish himself as the legitimate American heir to the cinema of Nicholas Ray — a cinema of tortured lyricism and passionate rebellion that reached its fullest flower in the 50s, as if to match the action painting that was roughly contemporary with it. Hopper managed to remake Ray’s Rebel Without a Cause (the film in which Hopper made his acting debut) in terms of a working-class punk (Linda Manz), an androgynous heroine whose grim fate suggested an Americanized version of Robert Bresson’s Mouchette. Casting himself, moreover, as her dissolute father, Hopper gave himself a disturbing part that seemed to update his role as Billy in Easy Rider.… Read more »

A Mankless Credit

Herman Mankiewicz is undoubtedly the victim of a credit thief, but the thief in question isn’t Orson Welles but director David Fincher, brandishing and “delivering” the screenplay of his late father Jack. All the best lines in this script come from Herman, but Fincher Sr. is allotted the only writing credit because that’s the way money (not writing) is supposed to work in Lotusland. Yet we’re supposed to credit Mank for telling us how Old Hollywood thought about itself (and incidentally about us too–assuming that we must be idiots for buying into all their lies, Louis B. Mayer’s as well as Fincher’s). I got tired very quickly of all the witty lines, by Herman and Jack alike, thinking, “Can’t somebody, just once, speak half-normally? Is cynicism the only spice we’re allowed to taste, Hecht and Company by the bucketful?” Yes, I know (spoiler alert), the white wine came up with the fish, and all I could think about, almost to Mank‘s bitter end, was when Jack would finally work in that climactic line. Finally, climactically, at the bitter end, natch. Give that dead man an Oscar.… Read more »