Movie Review #681
Studio: Columbia Pictures Corporation — Pando Company Inc. — Raybert Productions
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Spoken Languages: English — Spanish
Directed by Dennis Hopper. Produced by Peter Fonda. Written by Peter Fonda & Dennis Hopper & Terry Southern.
Rated R by the MPAA – frequent drug material, infrequent nudity. Runs 1 hour, 35 minutes. Premiered at Cannes Film Festival on May 8, 1969. Limited release in New York City, New York on July 14, 1969.
Starring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Also starring Luke Askew and Jack Nicholson as George Hanson.
“Here’s the first of the day, fellas. To ol’ D. H. Lawrence.”
– George Hanson (Jack Nicholson)
I’ve never exactly “gotten” stoner movies. The assumption among that crowd of celluloid seems to be that he who watches a stoner movie is stoned. There never seems to be a plot to me. I’m assuming “Easy Rider” is also a road movie, because, well, these guys are riding around all the time. I’m not sure though because their destination is all but obvious. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were maplessly trekking the plains hoping to find somewhere to light up every fifteen, twenty miles.
“Easy Rider” is a fun, if pointless, movie. Perhaps it’s better than the average stoner, as these characters aren’t plain stupid. They’re aimless, though, for those who think that’s much different. I had high expectations of this movie. Dennis Hopper starring, directing, writing. Peter Fonda starring, producing, writing. Jack Nicholson in his first mainstream role. And I’ll give this points. The soundtrack is awesome. If the movie isn’t edgy or relevant to its time, then the music is. Watch the first ten minutes, which features some of the simplest titles ever. Though they feel dynamic with Steppenwolf’s “Born to Be Wild” in the background. I’m also not surprised that this one brought Jack Nicholson to fame, instead of something later. (And this was his first thing that wasn’t a B-movie, so god, he had an early start.) His performance doesn’t come along for 45 minutes, but it grabs our attention when it does come along.
“Easy Rider” is neither a good movie nor a bad movie. Sure, Dennis Hopper directed it with style, and the financial results were successful. Compare this rising actor’s directorial debut with “One Eyed Jacks”, a much lesser known from Marlon Brando, the man who ruled the ’50s. But here’s a question. Why exactly was everybody so thrilled over this to make it a box office success? I’d like to say it’s because LSD was prominent in the day, but then I look at the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine album. It’s all about acid trips, and 75% of the album is songs only serious Beatles fans have heard of.