It’s 1969. Baby boomers are in rebellion. Easy Rider roars across the screen.
Parents are at their wits end. Henry Fonda, the venerable father of the film’s co-star, couldn’t even find a plot. “What does the movie mean?” he asked in bewilderment.
There was a plot of sorts: two biker hippie drug dealers make a big score and travel south to retire in Florida. Along the way, the movie tag says “…they went looking for America. And they couldn’t find it.” What they do find is a dysfunctional mixture of hippie communes and small town bigotry.
New York Times critic Vincent Canby didn’t like the tone: “Right away, you know that something superior is up, that somebody is making a statement…that it’s going to put down the whole rotten scene. What scene?…Man, I can’t tell you if you don’t know. What I mean to say is, if you don’t groove, you don’t groove.” Canby describes Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as “vacuous, romantic symbols.”
Peter Fonda’s Captain America Chopper sold for 1.35 million at auction
Old Hollywood that produced 1950s classics was giving way to avant guard baby boomer film makers free from censorship codes and traditional ideas, ready to take on The Establishment, however defined.
While the quality of the film may be argued, few deny it was a pop culture landmark. “We blew it,” the most memorable line, is an amorphous sigh of futility—they didn’t find what they were looking for, whatever that was: a place to fit it, acceptance, a meaning in life. The dark, brooding story foretells the “end of innocence” of the hippie era. The 1970s had arrived.
· Jack Nicholson was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his role an alcoholic Southern ACLU lawyer who springs the boys from jail and then joins the journey.
Nicholson and Fonda in their roles
· Co-star and co-writer Dennis Hooper picked up the Cannes Festival First Film Award.
· The sound track was hip, hip, hip—The Band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf.
· According to many sources, the drug scenes used the real stuff.
►Just because a movie is a big hit doesn’t mean it wins Best Picture or captures the four major acting awards. Only one of the following #1 box office blockbusters took home any of those Oscars.
Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
►Boomer Match Game: Connect the line to the movie
~ “I’m your biggest fan.”
~ “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
~ “You want answers?”
“I want the truth.”
“You can’t handle the truth”
~ “What we got here is a failure to communicate.”
A Few Good Men, Cool Hand Luke, Misery, Godfather
► Song Trivia: What’s the next line of this Eagles hit about a drug dealer cruising America:
♫ Well, I’m running down the road tryin’ to loosen my load
Got a world of troubles on my mind
Just tryin’ to find…
Answers at end of post
Easy Riders stars at the Cannes Film Festival, 1969
►Rain Main won Best Picture and Best Actor for Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an enfant savant. The film also picked up Best Director and Original Screenplay.
►Boomer Match Game: Connect the line to the movie:
“I’m your biggest fan” →Misery
“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.” → Godfather
“You want answers?”
“I want the truth.”
“You can’t handle the truth” → A Few Good Men
“What we got here is a failure to communicate.” → Cool Hand Luke
► Song Trivia: ♫…a lover who won’t blow my cover, she’s so hard to find.