I count Dennis Hopper’s appearances in at least two Western Classics: Gunfight at OK Corral with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas (1957); and True Grit (1969) with John Wayne. Even if Western movie fans didn’t count these movies as Classic, it would be recognized that Hopper had appeared with three of the Greatest Western Movie Stars of all time: Wayne, Lancaster and Douglas.
Some Western fans may also include Hang ’em High (1968) with another of the Greatest Western Actors of all time: Clint Eastwood; and The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) with John Wayne (again), Dean Martin and Earl Holliman.
Among Western TV Shows. Gunsmokeand Bonanzawould well be considered Classics. Cheyenne ? (Note: Hoppers roles in the TV Westerns were as a Guest Star – not a regular.)
Even so, not a bad legacy for one the legendary bad boys of the Entertainment industry.
“Ferociously violent – unexpectedly kind. Ruthless bandit or rebel hero? An outlaw’s outlaw with a score to settle.
The true story of the legendary Mad Dog Morgan… a jolting chapter in history.”
You know all those stories about Dennis Hopper ?
They’re all true.
A true Hollywood madman and renegade– and proof positive that nobody can die before their time – no matter how hard they try.
Black listed and black balled from Hollywood for his insane antics, massive substance abuse and irascible nature, he just wouldn’t stay down. And somehow along the way left a noticeable trail of pretty good work – even appearing in 2 or 3 Western Classics.
Wikipedia: “The director (DirectorPhilippe Mora)says that Hopper was a handful during the making of the film, constantly imbibing drink and drugs. However he says the actor could be very professional, a skilful improviser and gave a performance which was “really extraordinary. I think he identified with the role.” He “brought an insanity to the role, and an intensity that most actors would have found impossible to create”.
DirectorPhilippe Mora: recalled that when they finished filming Hopper: “Rode off in costume, poured a bottle of O.P. rum into the real Morgan’s grave in front of my mother Mirka Mora, drank one himself, got arrested and deported the next day, with a blood-alcohol reading that said he should have been clinically dead, according to the judge studying his alcohol tests.”
(MFW: Yep … there’s some strong “identification’ going on here.)
Mad Dog Morgan (Fully Restored Director’s Cut) Movie Trailer: In 2009 Philippe Mora released his Director’s Cut – greatly improving image quality and the overall movie.
Incredibly, Hopper wasn’t the first choice for Morgan. Stacy Keach, Martin Sheen, Malcolm McDowell and Alan Bates were all considered for the part. Keach was the first choice but disagreements meant his hiring fell through. Sheen was the second choice, and this casting too did not happen. Hopper finally was approached and did the part for 50,000 dollars.
Outside of Australia, this movie has been described an Australian Western. This movie actually won an award for Best Western at a Western Film Festival at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival. A 2009 Director’s Cut re-edited and remastered much of the footage – greatly improving it’s viewability.
This movie is based on the real life and death of Australian bushranger Daniel Morgan. All filming was done in the actual locations of the real events. The film was made and released about two years after Margaret Carnegie’s source book ‘Morgan: The Bold Bushranger‘ was first published in 1974 – based on twelve years of research. Carnegie is credited for the film for both story and research.
MFW: I wouldn’t say Mad Dog Morgan is everybody’s bottle of rum (Morgan’s?). There are a some fairly graphic scenes in there and some of the movie making shows … edges. But there’s also some very good scenes and Hopper is almost mesmerizing in his maniacal presence and acting.
Mad Dog Morgan
The mythology of Australian bush-ranger Daniel Morgan says that Morgan was legendary for carrying eight revolvers, two in his hands and six on his belt.
From: Bushrangers – Australian outlaws in the 1800’s
Mad Dog Morgan 1830 – 1865
“We know him as Mad Dog Morgan but he was a man of many aliases. His known criminal record began in 1854 when, under the name “John Smith”, he was sentenced to twelve years’ hard labour for highway robbery at Castlemaine, Victoria. When he was released from jail he had a hatred of authority and become Australia’s public enemy No 1.
After his 3rd murder the reward for Morgan’s capture was raised to £1000 and police were sent to track and capture him.”
Apparently, the real-life Daniel Morgan’s real name at birth was John Fuller. He was also apparently known as Jack Fuller and John Smith as well as the nicknames of Billy the Native and Down-the-River Jack. There is also some debate as to his “Mad” nickname i.e. as Mad Dog or as Mad Dan.
This film is considered an Ozploitation picture, an Australian exploitation movie.
Ozploitation (a portmanteau of Australia and exploitation) films are a type of low budget horror, comedy and action films made in Australia after the introduction of the R rating in 1971. The year also marked the beginnings of the Australian New Wave movement, and the Ozploitation style peaked within the same time frame (early 1970s to late 1980s). Ozploitation is often considered a smaller wave within the New Wave, “a time when break-neck-action,schlock-horror, ocker comedy and frisky sex romps joined a uniquely antipodean wave in exploitation cinema”