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A podcast with Ann Louise Bardach, the screenwriter of Dennis Hopper’s Backtrack

By Adam Lippe

Here’s a podcast with Ann Louise Bardach, journalist for The New York Times, Newsweek, Slate, etc., and the screenwriter of Dennis Hopper’s Backtrack, the director’s cut of which I reviewed here. Now Backtrack was an incredibly troubled production, sitting on the shelf for two years before being dumped by its bankrupt distributor in a cut retitled Catchfire, shorn of 20 minutes that Hopper intended to be part of the film. It wasn’t until 1992 when Live Home Video put out a VHS of Hopper’s preferred cut that any of the footage was available. Unfortunately all of the DVD versions have been the cut version, still re-titled Catchfire.

In our interview, Ann Louise discusses some of the trouble Hopper found himself on the set, especially as the 1988 writer’s strike was in full swing in the midst of production. Hopper was also recently sober, which may have caused a lot of the tension that resulted in the cast and crew giving Hopper the silent treatment.  During this 15 minute interview (audio quality is fair as cell phone static is an occasional problem) you can also enjoy hearing about how Hopper’s unpredictable whims resulted in the more ridiculous scenes in the film. Download the podcast or stream it below. Or you can go to Itunes and subscribe to A Regrettable Moment of Sincerity.

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1 comment on “A podcast with Ann Louise Bardach, the screenwriter of Dennis Hopper’s Backtrack”

  1. Good quick interview! I saw Backtrack for the first time today (from what I understand I watched the original European cut) and I really dug it. I had no idea that the movie had a troubled past!

    I decided to look into it because Pesci’s name wasn’t in the credits. So I’m searching the web and BAM all this stuff about the messed up production and the director’s cut totally threw me for a loop. This film really went thru the ringer.

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By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]

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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.