Dennis Hopper and wife Daria Halprin at the Jack Tar Hotel, San Francisco.
From The Village Voice–
The Last Movie was actually to be Hopper’s first. Inspiration hit him in Durango, Mexico, during the making of the John Wayne western The Sons of Katie Elder— “I thought, my God, what’s going to happen when the movie leaves and the natives are left living in these Western sets?” Hopper hoped to make The Last Movie in 1966 but the project fell through when music producer Phil Spector withdrew financial support; his opportunity came in the wake of Easy Rider. Universal gave Hopper $850,000 and total autonomy (including final cut), so long as he stayed within budget.
Actor and director Dennis Hopper on the set of his film “The last Movie”, 1971. — Image by © Apis/Sygma/Corbis
Given Easy Rider‘s epochal success, The Last Movie was the most eagerly awaited picture of 1971. After winning an award at the Venice Film Festival, Hopper’s opus opened in New York and broke the single-day box office record at the RKO 59th Street theater, site of Easy Rider‘s triumphant engagement. But unlike Hopper’s first film, The Last Movie was attacked and ridiculed by virtually every reviewer in America and was withdrawn by its distributor within two weeks. Although it achieved a negative notoriety unsurpassed until Heaven’s Gate,The Last Movie was not a financial boondoggle. Hopper’s sin wasn’t wasting money—it was something far worse. The Last Movie is an act of visionary aggression that desecrates Hollywood’s universal church.
Actor and director Dennis Hopper on the set of his film “The Last Movie”, 1971. — Image by © Apis/Sygma/Corbis
The Last Movie made the name “Dennis Hopper” marquee death. Finished in late 1971, Kid Blue—an amiable comic western with Hopper as an aging outlaw attempting to go straight—was shelved for over a year. After a New York opening was canceled, the movie was included in the New York Film Festival. This honor proved the kiss of death. Kid Blue‘s ensuing commercial run lasted four days.
All this was a major setback for the rebellious visionary– and it appeared the Dennis Hopper’s career was all but over…
Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper & Michelle Phillips. Phillips and Hopper were married briefly (all of eight days), and she appears in The Last Movie. She also dated Jack Nicholson, among other stars of that time.
Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper at an Academy Awards after party in Los Angeles, California, April 1970. Singer Michelle Phillips stands in the foreground. –Photo by Max Miller
The fashion influence of Dennis Hopper during this era can definitely be felt in Owen Wilson’s “Eli Cash” character– from Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums.”