Your Letters: Dennis Hopper, 'Pick Yourself Up'

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Host Scott Simon reads from the show's digital mailbag.


Let's go through your letters. I was away last week so my fill-in, David Greene, had the pleasure of interviewing Dennis Hopper. Among other things, they talked about the 40th anniversary of the seminal - interesting word, that - 1960s film "Easy Rider," which Mr. Hopper said had since been liberally edited by the Turner Classics Movie cable channel.

Mr. DENNIS HOPPER (Actor): They said, yeah, we're going to take out the cocaine at the beginning. And we're going to take out the nude scenes with the girls at the hot springs. And we're going to take out the nude part of the acid trip. And we're going to take out you giving the finger at the end. And I said, wow. I said, what's the movie about?

(Soundbite of laughter)

SIMON: Not so, writes Charles Tabish, senior vice president of programming at Turner Classic Movies. We were a little surprised when Mr. Hopper said that TCM wanted to edit the film. We respect Mr. Hopper's great work as an actor and director, but his statement about TCM and "Easy Rider" simply isn't true. We don't edit the films. In fact, we always show them completely uncut, commercial-free and letterboxed. We're hardcore cinephiles and believe strongly in maintaining a director's vision.

Well, we checked. TCM has indeed run "Easy Rider" intact. The TCM competitor, AMC, American Movie Classics, broadcasts an edited version of the film.

And last week NPR's Susan Stamberg noted that President Obama has twice urged Americans to, quote, "Pick yourself up, dust yourself off," a reference perhaps to the song "Pick Yourself Up" from the 1936 Fred Astaire/Ginger Rodgers musical romp "Swing Time."

(Soundbite of movie, "Swing Time")

Ms. GINGER RODGERS (Actress): (Singing) Nothing's impossible I have found. But when my chin is on the ground, I pick myself up; dust myself off, start all over again.

SIMON: Many listeners, including Rebecca Tolin of Bloomington, Indiana, pointed out that President Obama is likely to have recalled a more contemporary version of the song.

She wrote, When Barack Obama quoted lines from the song "Pick Myself Up," surely he was thinking of Peter Tosh's reggae classic. Given his generation and internationalist outlook, I feel sure our president is a reggae fan.

(Soundbite of song, "Pick Myself Up")

PETER TOSH (Singer/Songwriter): (Singing) But I got to pick myself up, dust myself off and I had to start all over. Then I start all over. I pick myself up and dust myself off and I start all over. Every time I start all over.

SIMON: Fans of our show and critics are welcome to write to us. You can send us an email, Click on Contact Us. Please tell us where you live and how to pronounce your name. If you prefer to tweet you can reach on Twitter at nprscottsimon, that's all one word. You can write to our editors and producers at nprweekend, all one word.

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