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Dennis Hopper Defies Death

Thompson on Hollywood By Tim Appelo | Thompson on Hollywood August 1, 2010 at 1:40AM

Enjoy this Dennis Hopper anecdote shared by Tim Appelo:
Thompson on Hollywood

Enjoy this Dennis Hopper anecdote shared by Tim Appelo:

How gratifying to see Dennis Hopper defy death! In this 1983 clip by documentary filmmaker Brian Huberman (on the jump), Hopper decides to edify the audience at Rice University Media Center by scrapping the speech, busing everybody to a racetrack, climbing under a coffin, and having a stunt expert blow it up. "The two-way radio will set off that dynamite right now, so let's just be cool for a minute here!" says Hopper. Terry Southern gravely makes the sign of the cross. Wim Wenders tells Huberman, "Otherwise I blow your camera up, jah? If there's one stick of dynamite left, I put it in your camera."

"The guy's a little bit wasted, but he knows what he's doing," somebody says. Channeling his pal Elvis Presley, Hopper says, "Pardon us, we have to T.C.B.: take care of business." After the blast, Hopper gives a brief shell-shocked lecture. "It's like bein' hit by Muhammad Ali, man...It's a theory I have of how solar systems are made -- you see, dynamite doesn't blow in on itself....Now that I'm not into sex anymore, I guess I'll just--I may start reading." The lesson of the day, according to Film Professor Hopper: "I have to say, whoooo-eeey!"

I have to say what the racetrack announcer says: "DENNIS HOPPER! DENNIS HOPPER, Ladies and gentlemen!"

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.