Monday, August 23, 2010

MAD DOG MORGAN (1976) - Philippe Mora

Aye, what a mess this movie be! If it isn't Dennis Hopper's wayward Irish brogue one minute, then it's his paste-on ZZ Top beard the next! But the worst of it is the hack-and-slash editing, scenes beginning and ending abruptly even in the "shocking uncut version" (which, not so shockingly, as a Troma Films release, looked like it was transferred from a dirty VHS).

Granted, director Mora had a big task ahead of him cutting around Hopper's mid-70s "method" performance. To play the legendary Aussie folk hero Dan Morgan, Hopper was admittedly blotto on bottles of rum for most of the shoot. You can tell. His line readings are all over the place and seem to get away from him as much as his horse. It's not quite as fun (or funny) as you would think.

I love Dennis Hopper, may he rest in peace. But it takes a better director than Mora to channel the force of nature that was Hopper in his bad-boy heyday and get something usable. It takes a Coppola, Lynch, Wenders or Hopper himself. Reportedly, David Gulpilil, who played Morgan's Aborigine guide, disappeared in the middle of the shoot to take a several day walkabout. While walking, he asked the Kookaburra birds if Hopper was, in fact, crazy. They told him yes.

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