Dennis Hopper has passed away. I was reading the wikipedia article on him, trying to see if I’ve seen him in anything. I haven’t seen him in much, since I haven’t gotten around to watching James Dean movies (though I did watch the James Dean Biography, back when I had my DVR). But I noticed that there was one role in which I did see Dennis Hopper, a role that has been in my mind for probably more than a decade. Hopper played Shooter in the movie, Hoosiers.
Shooter was an alcoholic, who continually embarrassed his son, a high school basketball player. But he knew a lot about basketball. Shooter could sound really learned about it in the barber-shop, discussing strategy. And so Coach Norman Dale (played by Gene Hackman) decided to make Shooter his assistant coach.
Shooter was definitely a rough diamond in the works! He showed up at one basketball game drunk, again embarrassing his son. Coach Norman dunked Shooter’s head into the bathroom sink a few times, telling him that he wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior!
On another occasion, Coach Norman was thrown out of the game because he argued with the referee, and so Shooter was left holding the bag. Shooter didn’t know what to do or say, so he just stood there. Again, his son was embarrassed. Shooter made Coach Norman promise never to do that again! And Coach Norman promised.
But some promises are made to be broken, and Coach Norman understood that Shooter had potential that needed to be brought out. And so Coach Norman had another outburst, and was again thrown out of the game at a crucial point. Again, Shooter was left holding the bag. Shooter’s son melted the ice a little bit by offering his father some advice. Shooter then develops a solid winning strategy for the team. Shooter wasn’t as glib at that game as he was in the barber-shop, but he had a little more confidence, compared to the last game in which he was left holding the bag!
I identify with Shooter because of the alcoholism, and also because I too can freeze up and appear dumb in certain situations. But is there a diamond underneath all that, as there was with Shooter? I hope it’s that way for all of us!