Image from the motion picture Backtrack Image from the motion picture Backtrack

Backtrack - 35MM

Crime, Comedy, Action | 1991 | 116MIN


Dennis Hopper


Jodie Foster
Dennis Hopper
Dean Stockwell
Fred Ward

โ€œ๐™’๐™๐™š๐™ฃ ๐™ข๐™ช๐™ง๐™™๐™š๐™ง ๐™ž๐™จ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™—๐™ช๐™จ๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™š๐™จ๐™จ, ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช’๐™™ ๐™—๐™š๐™ฉ๐™ฉ๐™š๐™ง ๐™ฃ๐™ค๐™ฉ ๐™›๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐™ž๐™ฃ ๐™ก๐™ค๐™ซ๐™š ๐™ฌ๐™ž๐™ฉ๐™ ๐™ฎ๐™ค๐™ช๐™ง ๐™ฌ๐™ค๐™ง๐™ .โ€

Following an Oscar nomination for 1986โ€™s Hoosiers and rave reviews for helming the LAPD drama Colors, Hopper rigged up a magnum opus called Backtrack with Vestron Pictures, starring himself as an assassin named Milo who becomes obsessed with a young โ€œCindy Sherman-type artist-entrepreneurโ€ named Anne Benton (Jodie Foster) after she witnesses one of his hits go down. The production spiraled out of control and the producers commissioned a borderline-incoherent cut called CATCHFIRE, which Hopper took his name off of. The twist is that Anne is unabashedly based on the conceptual artist Jenny Holzer, whose signature LED panels โ€” scrolling ominous phrases such as MURDER HAS ITS SEXUAL SIDE, EVEN YOUR FAMILY CAN BETRAY YOU and the iconic ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE โ€” factor heavily into the film. Given Anneโ€™s voluntary (!) decision to become Miloโ€™s love-slave, Hopperโ€™s real-life fixation on the Taos, New Mexico location where much of Backtrack was shot, and the brain-breaking list of cameos from his extended creative circle, it seems likely his motivations were classic ones: vanity, wish-fulfillment, and challenging Hollywood philistinism by siphoning money to his friends. (Joe Pesci, Fred Ward, Tony Sirico, Sy Richardson, John Turturro, Dean Stockwell, Charlie Sheen, Catherine Keener, Bob Dylan, Alex Cox, Vincent Price and Neil Young all appear in speaking parts of varying sizes.)

Rare 35mm screening of Dennis Hopper’s 116MIN director’s cut of the film theatrically released as “Catchfire” (which runs 18MIN shorter). Programmed and introduced by programmer Steve Macfarlane. Print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive.

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