Easy Rider
Overview
Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie
Road movie
A road movie is a film genre in which the main character or characters leave home to travel from place to place. They usually leave home to escape their current lives.-History:...

 written by Peter Fonda
Peter Fonda
Peter Henry Fonda is an American actor. He is the son of Henry Fonda, brother of Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget and Justin Fonda...

, Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper
Dennis Lee Hopper was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant...

, and Terry Southern
Terry Southern
Terry Southern was an American author, essayist, screenwriter and university lecturer, noted for his distinctive satirical style...

, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two biker
Motorcycling
Motorcycling is the act of riding a motorcycle. A variety of subcultures and lifestyles have been built up around motorcycling.-Benefits:Robert M. Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a paean celebrating motorcycling...

s (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 with the aim of achieving freedom
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood
New Hollywood
New Hollywood or post-classical Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the "American New Wave", refers to the time from roughly the late-1960s to the early 1980s when a new generation of young filmmakers came to prominence in America, influencing the types of films produced, their production and...

 phase of filmmaking during the late sixties. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

 in 1998.

A landmark counterculture
Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and spread throughout much of the western world between 1960 and 1973. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam...

 film, and a "touchstone for a generation" that "captured the national imagination," Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise and fall of the hippie
Hippie
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

 movement, drug use
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

, and communal
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

 lifestyle.
Easy Rider is famous for its use of real drugs in its portrayal of marijuana and other substances.
The protagonists are two freewheeling hippies: Wyatt (Fonda), nicknamed "Captain America", and Billy (Hopper).
Quotations

No, I mean it. You've got a nice place. It's not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud.

[reading inscription] "If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent Him."

[while tripping on LSD] Oh Mother why didn't you tell me? Why didn't anybody tell me anything?...What are you doing to me now?...Shut up!...How could you make me hate you so?...Oh God, I hate you so much.

Whew. Man, look, I gotta get out of here, man. Now we - we got things we want to do, man, like - I just - uh - I gotta get out of here, man.

You gotta be kidding. I mean, you know who this is, man? This is Captain America. I'm Billy. Hey, we're headliners baby. We played every fair in this part of the country. I mean, for top dollar, too!

[about marijuana] It gives you a whole new way of looking at the day.

Well, you boys don't look like you're from this part of the country. You're lucky I'm here to see that you don't get into anything...Well, they got this here - see - uh - scissor-happy 'Beautify America' thing goin' on around here. They're tryin' to make everybody look like Yul Brynner. They used - uh - rusty razor blades on the last two long-hairs that they brought in here and I wasn't here to protect them. You see - uh - I'm - uh - I'm a lawyer. Done a lot of work for the A.C.L.U.

You can get out of here, if you haven't killed anybody - at least nobody white.

[to guard] Very groovy. Very groovy. See there. I bet nobody ever said that to you.

Here's to the first of the day, fellas. To ol' D. H. Lawrence. Nik-nik-nik-f-f-f-Indians!

Encyclopedia
Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie
Road movie
A road movie is a film genre in which the main character or characters leave home to travel from place to place. They usually leave home to escape their current lives.-History:...

 written by Peter Fonda
Peter Fonda
Peter Henry Fonda is an American actor. He is the son of Henry Fonda, brother of Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget and Justin Fonda...

, Dennis Hopper
Dennis Hopper
Dennis Lee Hopper was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant...

, and Terry Southern
Terry Southern
Terry Southern was an American author, essayist, screenwriter and university lecturer, noted for his distinctive satirical style...

, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two biker
Motorcycling
Motorcycling is the act of riding a motorcycle. A variety of subcultures and lifestyles have been built up around motorcycling.-Benefits:Robert M. Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a paean celebrating motorcycling...

s (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 with the aim of achieving freedom
Individualism
Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that stresses "the moral worth of the individual". Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance while opposing most external interference upon one's own...

. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood
New Hollywood
New Hollywood or post-classical Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the "American New Wave", refers to the time from roughly the late-1960s to the early 1980s when a new generation of young filmmakers came to prominence in America, influencing the types of films produced, their production and...

 phase of filmmaking during the late sixties. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

 in 1998.

A landmark counterculture
Counterculture of the 1960s
The counterculture of the 1960s refers to a cultural movement that mainly developed in the United States and spread throughout much of the western world between 1960 and 1973. The movement gained momentum during the U.S. government's extensive military intervention in Vietnam...

 film, and a "touchstone for a generation" that "captured the national imagination," Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise and fall of the hippie
Hippie
The hippie subculture was originally a youth movement that arose in the United States during the mid-1960s and spread to other countries around the world. The etymology of the term 'hippie' is from hipster, and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into San Francisco's...

 movement, drug use
Recreational drug use
Recreational drug use is the use of a drug, usually psychoactive, with the intention of creating or enhancing recreational experience. Such use is controversial, however, often being considered to be also drug abuse, and it is often illegal...

, and communal
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

 lifestyle.
Easy Rider is famous for its use of real drugs in its portrayal of marijuana and other substances.

Plot

The protagonists are two freewheeling hippies: Wyatt (Fonda), nicknamed "Captain America", and Billy (Hopper). Fonda and Hopper said that these characters' names refer to Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was an American gambler, investor, and law enforcement officer who served in several Western frontier towns. He was also at different times a farmer, teamster, bouncer, saloon-keeper, miner and boxing referee. However, he was never a drover or cowboy. He is most well known...

 and Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
William H. Bonney William H. Bonney William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr. est. November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881, better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier...

. Wyatt dresses in American flag
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

-adorned leather, while Billy dresses in Native American
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

-style buckskin
Buckskin
Buckskin may refer to:*Buckskin , leather made of buck hide*Buckskins, an outfit of buckskin leather*Buckskin , a color of horses similar to buckskin leather...

 pants and shirts and a bushman hat. The former is appreciative of help and of others, while the latter is often hostile and leery of outsiders.

After smuggling cocaine
Cocaine
Cocaine is a crystalline tropane alkaloid that is obtained from the leaves of the coca plant. The name comes from "coca" in addition to the alkaloid suffix -ine, forming cocaine. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, an appetite suppressant, and a topical anesthetic...

 from Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

 to Los Angeles
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

, Wyatt and Billy sell their contraband to "Connection," a man (played by Phil Spector
Phil Spector
Phillip Harvey "Phil" Spector is an American record producer and songwriter, later known for his conviction in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson....

) in a Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
The Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is a luxury car that was produced in Great Britain in various forms from 1965 to 1980. It was the first Rolls-Royce to use a monocoque chassis, a response to concerns that the company was falling behind in automotive innovation....

 and score a large sum of money. With the money from the sale stuffed into a plastic tube hidden inside the Stars & Stripes-adorned fuel tank of Wyatt's California-style chopper
Chopper (motorcycle)
A chopper is a type of motorcycle that was either modified from an original motorcycle design or built from scratch to have a hand-crafted appearance. The main features of a chopper that make it stand out are its longer frame design accompanied by a stretch front end...

, they ride eastward in an attempt to reach New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans, Louisiana
New Orleans is a major United States port and the largest city and metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana. The New Orleans metropolitan area has a population of 1,235,650 as of 2009, the 46th largest in the USA. The New Orleans – Metairie – Bogalusa combined statistical area has a population...

, in time for Mardi Gras
New Orleans Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a Carnival celebration well-known throughout the world.The New Orleans Carnival season, with roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany . It is a season of parades, balls , and king cake parties...

.

During their trip, Wyatt and Billy meet and have a meal with a rancher, whom Wyatt admires for his simple, traditional farming lifestyle. Later, the duo pick up a hitch-hiker (Luke Askew
Luke Askew
Luke Askew is an American actor best known for his role in the 1969 film Easy Rider.Askew was born in Macon, Georgia. He made his film debut in Otto Preminger's Hurry Sundown , but was first noticed as an actor for his role in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke...

) and agree to take him to his commune
Commune (intentional community)
A commune is an intentional community of people living together, sharing common interests, property, possessions, resources, and, in some communes, work and income. In addition to the communal economy, consensus decision-making, non-hierarchical structures and ecological living have become...

, where they stay for a day. Life in the commune appears to be hard, with hippies from the city finding it difficult to grow their own crops in a dry climate with poor soil. (One of the children seen in the commune is played by Fonda's four-year-old daughter Bridget
Bridget Fonda
Bridget Jane Fonda is an American actress. She is best known for her roles in films such as The Godfather Part III, Single White Female, Point of No Return, It Could Happen to You, and Jackie Brown...

.) At one point, the bikers witness a prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

 for blessing
Blessing
A blessing, is the infusion of something with holiness, spiritual redemption, divine will, or one's hope or approval.- Etymology and Germanic paganism :...

 of the new crop, as put by a communard: A chance "to make a stand," and to plant "simple food, for our simple taste." The commune is also host to a traveling theater group that "sings for its supper" (performs for food). The notion of "free love
Free love
The term free love has been used to describe a social movement that rejects marriage, which is seen as a form of social bondage. The Free Love movement’s initial goal was to separate the state from sexual matters such as marriage, birth control, and adultery...

" appears to be practiced, with two women seemingly sharing the affections of the hitch-hiking communard, and who then turn their attention to Wyatt and Billy. The hitch-hiker wants the two bikers to stay at the commune, saying, "the time is now", to which Wyatt replies "I'm hip about time...but I gotta go." As the bikers leave, the hitch-hiker (known only as "Stranger on highway" in the credits) gives Wyatt some LSD
LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

 for him to share with "the right people."

While jokingly riding along with a parade in a small town, the pair are arrested by the local authorities for "parading without a permit" and thrown in jail. In jail, they befriend American Civil Liberties Union
American Civil Liberties Union
The American Civil Liberties Union is a U.S. non-profit organization whose stated mission is "to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States." It works through litigation, legislation, and...

 lawyer and local drunk George Hanson (Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

). George helps them get out of jail, and decides to travel with Wyatt and Billy to New Orleans. As they camp that night, Wyatt and Billy introduce George to marijuana
Cannabis (drug)
Cannabis, also known as marijuana among many other names, refers to any number of preparations of the Cannabis plant intended for use as a psychoactive drug or for medicinal purposes. The English term marijuana comes from the Mexican Spanish word marihuana...

. As an alcoholic and a "square,"
Square (slang)
Square used as slang may mean many things when referring to a person or in common language.In referring to a person, the word originally meant someone who was honest, traditional and loyal. An agreement that is equitable on all sides is a "square deal"...

 George is reluctant to try the marijuana ("It leads to harder stuff", and "I don't want to get hooked"), but he quickly relents.

While attempting to eat in a small rural Louisiana
Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana
Pointe Coupee Parish, pronounced "Pwent Koo-Pay" and , is a parish located in the U.S. state of Louisiana. The parish seat is New Roads. As of 2000, the population was 22,763....

 restaurant, the trio's appearance attracts the attention of the locals. The girls in the restaurant want to meet the men and ride with them, but the local men and police officer make mocking, racist, and homophobic remarks. One of the men menacingly states, "I don't believe they'll make the parish line." Wyatt, Billy, and George leave without eating and make camp outside of town. The events of the day cause George to comment: "This used to be a hell of a good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it." He observes that Americans talk a lot about the value of freedom, but are actually afraid of anyone who truly exhibits it.

In the middle of the night, the local men return and brutally beat the trio with baseball bats while they are sleeping. Billy luckily manages to scare the men off by pulling a switchblade
Switchblade
A switchblade is a type of knife with a folding or sliding blade contained in the handle which is opened automatically by a spring when a button, lever, or switch on the handle or bolster is activated A switchblade (also known as an automatic knife, pushbutton knife, switch, Sprenger, Springer,...

 on them. Wyatt and Billy suffer minor injuries, but George is killed by a machete
Machete
The machete is a large cleaver-like cutting tool. The blade is typically long and usually under thick. In the English language, an equivalent term is matchet, though it is less commonly known...

 strike
Strike (attack)
A strike is an attack with an inanimate object, such as a weapon, or with a part of the human body intended to cause an effect upon an opponent or to simply cause harm to an opponent. There are many different varieties of strikes...

 to the neck. Wyatt and Billy wrap George's body up in his sleeping bag, gather his belongings, and vow to return the items to his parents.

They continue to New Orleans and find the brothel
Brothel
Brothels are business establishments where patrons can engage in sexual activities with prostitutes. Brothels are known under a variety of names, including bordello, cathouse, knocking shop, whorehouse, strumpet house, sporting house, house of ill repute, house of prostitution, and bawdy house...

 George had intended to visit. Taking prostitutes Karen (Karen Black
Karen Black
Karen Black is an American actress, screenwriter, singer, and songwriter. She is noted for appearing in such films as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Great Gatsby, Rhinoceros, The Day of the Locust, Nashville, Airport 1975, and Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot...

) and Mary (Toni Basil
Toni Basil
Antonia Christina Basilotta , better known by her stage name Toni Basil, is an American singer-songwriter, actress, filmmaker, film director, choreographer, and dancer, best known for her multi-million-selling worldwide #1 hit "Mickey" from 1982.-Early life:Basil was born Antonia Christina...

) with them, Wyatt and Billy decide to go outside and wander the parade-filled street of the Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
The terms "Mardi Gras" , "Mardi Gras season", and "Carnival season", in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday...

 celebration. They end up in a cemetery, where all four ingest LSD
LSD
Lysergic acid diethylamide, abbreviated LSD or LSD-25, also known as lysergide and colloquially as acid, is a semisynthetic psychedelic drug of the ergoline family, well known for its psychological effects which can include altered thinking processes, closed and open eye visuals, synaesthesia, an...

. They experience a psychedelic
Psychedelic
The term psychedelic is derived from the Greek words ψυχή and δηλοῦν , translating to "soul-manifesting". A psychedelic experience is characterized by the striking perception of aspects of one's mind previously unknown, or by the creative exuberance of the mind liberated from its ostensibly...

 bad trip
Bad trip
Bad trip is a disturbing experience sometimes associated with use of a psychedelic drug such as LSD, Salvinorin A, DXM, mescaline, psilocybin, DMT and sometimes even other drugs including cannabis, alcohol and MDMA....

 infused with Catholic prayer
Prayer
Prayer is a form of religious practice that seeks to activate a volitional rapport to a deity through deliberate practice. Prayer may be either individual or communal and take place in public or in private. It may involve the use of words or song. When language is used, prayer may take the form of...

, represented through quick edits, sound effects, and over-exposed
Exposure (photography)
In photography, exposure is the total amount of light allowed to fall on the photographic medium during the process of taking a photograph. Exposure is measured in lux seconds, and can be computed from exposure value and scene luminance over a specified area.In photographic jargon, an exposure...

 film.
Making camp afterward, Wyatt declares: "We blew it." Wyatt realizes that their search for freedom, while financially successful, was a spiritual failure. The next morning, the two are continuing their trip to Florida (where they hope to retire wealthy) when two redneck
Redneck
Redneck is a historically derogatory slang term used in reference to poor, uneducated white farmers, especially from the southern United States...

s in a pickup truck
Pickup truck
A pickup truck is a light motor vehicle with an open-top rear cargo area .-Definition:...

 spot them and decide to "scare the hell out of them" with their shotgun
Shotgun
A shotgun is a firearm that is usually designed to be fired from the shoulder, which uses the energy of a fixed shell to fire a number of small spherical pellets called shot, or a solid projectile called a slug...

. As they pull alongside Billy, one of the men lazily aims the shotgun at him and threatens and insults him by saying "Want me to blow your brains out?" and "Why don't you get a haircut?" When Billy flips his middle finger
Middle finger
The middle finger or long finger is the third digit of the human hand, located between the index finger and the ring finger. It is usually the longest finger...

 up at them, the hillbilly fires the shotgun at Billy who immediately hits the pavement, seriously wounded in the side. As the truck then takes off past Wyatt down the road, Wyatt turns around and races back to put his jacket over his fatally injured friend already covered in blood before riding off for help. But by this time, the same pickup truck has turned around and closes on Wyatt. Not wanting any witnesses to report them to the police, the hillbilly fires at Wyatt as he speeds by the pickup, hitting the bike's gas tank and causing it to instantly erupt into a fiery explosion. Wyatt lands by the side of the road, dead. As the murderous rednecks drive away, the film ends with a shot of the flaming bike in the middle of the deserted road, as the camera ascends to the sky.

Cast

  • Peter Fonda
    Peter Fonda
    Peter Henry Fonda is an American actor. He is the son of Henry Fonda, brother of Jane Fonda, and father of Bridget and Justin Fonda...

     as Wyatt
  • Dennis Hopper
    Dennis Hopper
    Dennis Lee Hopper was an American actor, filmmaker and artist. As a young man, Hopper became interested in acting and eventually became a student of the Actors' Studio. He made his first television appearance in 1954 and appeared in two films featuring James Dean, Rebel Without a Cause and Giant...

     as Billy
  • Jack Nicholson
    Jack Nicholson
    John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

     as George Hanson
  • Luke Askew
    Luke Askew
    Luke Askew is an American actor best known for his role in the 1969 film Easy Rider.Askew was born in Macon, Georgia. He made his film debut in Otto Preminger's Hurry Sundown , but was first noticed as an actor for his role in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke...

    as Stranger on Highway
  • Phil Spector
    Phil Spector
    Phillip Harvey "Phil" Spector is an American record producer and songwriter, later known for his conviction in the murder of actress Lana Clarkson....

     as Connection
  • Karen Black
    Karen Black
    Karen Black is an American actress, screenwriter, singer, and songwriter. She is noted for appearing in such films as Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Great Gatsby, Rhinoceros, The Day of the Locust, Nashville, Airport 1975, and Alfred Hitchcock's final film, Family Plot...

     as Karen
  • Toni Basil
    Toni Basil
    Antonia Christina Basilotta , better known by her stage name Toni Basil, is an American singer-songwriter, actress, filmmaker, film director, choreographer, and dancer, best known for her multi-million-selling worldwide #1 hit "Mickey" from 1982.-Early life:Basil was born Antonia Christina...

     as Mary
  • Antonio Mendoza as Jesus
  • Mac Mashourian as Bodyguard
  • Warren Finnerty
    Warren Finnerty
    Warren Finnerty was an American actor best known for his Obie award-winning performance in The Connection . After making his film debut in Murder, Inc. , he made a few television appearances before starring in the film adaption of The Connection , reprising his role from the stage production...

     as Rancher
  • Tita Colorado as Rancher's Wife
  • Luana Anders
    Luana Anders
    Luana Anders was an American film and television actress.-Career:Anders, born Luana Margo Anderson, began her career appearing in several supporting roles in low budget B-movies for American International Pictures, quite a few of them directed by Roger Corman. She was part of a group of well known...

     as Lisa
  • Sabrina Scharf as Sarah
  • Robert Walker Jr.
    Robert Walker Jr.
    Robert Hudson Walker, Jr. is an American actor.He was born in Queens, New York and is the elder son of actors Robert Walker and Jennifer Jones. A younger brother, Michael Walker, died in 2007 ....

     as Jack
  • Sandy Brown Wyeth as Joanne


Production

When seeing a still of himself and Bruce Dern
Bruce Dern
Bruce MacLeish Dern is an American film actor. He also appeared as a guest star in numerous television shows. He frequently takes roles as a character actor, often playing unstable and villainous characters...

 in The Wild Angels
The Wild Angels
The Wild Angels is a 1966 Roger Corman film, made on location in Southern California. The Wild Angels was made three years before Easy Rider and was the first film to associate actor Peter Fonda with Harley-Davidson motorcycles and 1960s counterculture...

, Peter Fonda had the idea of a modern Western, involving two bikers travelling around the country and eventually getting shot by hillbillies. He called Dennis Hopper, and the two decided to turn that into a movie, The Loners, with Hopper directing, Fonda producing, and both starring and writing. They brought in screenwriter Terry Southern
Terry Southern
Terry Southern was an American author, essayist, screenwriter and university lecturer, noted for his distinctive satirical style...

, who came up with the title Easy Rider. The film was mostly shot without a screenplay, with ad-libbed lines, and production starting having only the outline and the names of the protagonists - keeping the Western theme, Wyatt was named after Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Earp
Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp was an American gambler, investor, and law enforcement officer who served in several Western frontier towns. He was also at different times a farmer, teamster, bouncer, saloon-keeper, miner and boxing referee. However, he was never a drover or cowboy. He is most well known...

 and Billy after Billy the Kid
Billy the Kid
William H. Bonney William H. Bonney William H. Bonney (born William Henry McCarty, Jr. est. November 23, 1859 – c. July 14, 1881, better known as Billy the Kid but also known as Henry Antrim, was a 19th-century American gunman who participated in the Lincoln County War and became a frontier...

.

During test shooting on location in New Orleans, Hopper fought with the production's ad hoc crew for control. At one point he entered into a physical confrontation with photographer Barry Feinstein
Barry Feinstein
Barry Feinstein was an American photographer who was reputed to have produced over 500 album covers. Barry Feinstein began in his youth as a photographer. In 1955 he was engaged as an assistant at Life magazine...

, who was one of the camera operators for the shoot. After this turmoil, Hopper and Fonda decided to assemble a proper crew for the rest of the film.

Allegedly, the characters of Wyatt and Billy were respectively based on Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

 and David Crosby
David Crosby
David Van Cortlandt Crosby is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter. In addition to his solo career, he was a founding member of three bands: The Byrds, Crosby, Stills & Nash , and CPR...

 of The Byrds
The Byrds
The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member until the group disbanded in 1973...

. According to Terry Southern's biographer, Lee Hill, the part of George Hanson had been written for Southern's friend, actor Rip Torn
Rip Torn
Elmore Rual "Rip" Torn, Jr. , is an American actor of stage, screen and television.Torn received an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his role in the 1983 film Cross Creek. His work includes the role of Artie, the producer, on The Larry Sanders Show, for which he was nominated...

. When Torn met with Hopper and Fonda at a New York restaurant in early 1968 to discuss the role, Hopper began ranting about the "redneck
Redneck
Redneck is a historically derogatory slang term used in reference to poor, uneducated white farmers, especially from the southern United States...

s" he had encountered on his scouting trip to the South. Torn, a Texan, took exception to some of Hopper's remarks, and the two almost came to blows, as a result of which Torn withdrew from the project and had to be replaced by Jack Nicholson. In 1994, Hopper was interviewed about Easy Rider by Jay Leno
Jay Leno
James Douglas Muir "Jay" Leno is an American stand-up comedian and television host.From 1992 to 2009, Leno was the host of NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Beginning in September 2009, Leno started a primetime talk show, titled The Jay Leno Show, which aired weeknights at 10:00 p.m. ,...

 on The Tonight Show, and during the interview, he alleged that Torn had pulled a knife on him during the altercation, prompting Torn to sue Hopper successfully for defamation.

The hippie commune was recreated from pictures and shot near Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica, California
Santa Monica is a beachfront city in western Los Angeles County, California, US. Situated on Santa Monica Bay, it is surrounded on three sides by the city of Los Angeles — Pacific Palisades on the northwest, Brentwood on the north, West Los Angeles on the northeast, Mar Vista on the east, and...

 overlooking Malibu Canyon, since the New Buffalo commune near Taos
Taos, New Mexico
Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2000 census, its population was 4,700. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, and El Prado. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American...

 in Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico
Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico
Arroyo Hondo is a small unincorporated town in Taos County near Taos, New Mexico, United States. It is historically notable as the site of the killing of six to eight employees by a force of allied Native Americans at Simon Turley's mill on January 20, 1847...

 did not permit shooting there.

A short clip near the beginning of the film shows Wyatt and Billy on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff is a city located in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2010, the city's population was 65,870. The population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area was at 134,421 in 2010. It is the county seat of Coconino County...

, passing a large figure of a lumberjack, once in front of the Lumberjack Cafe. That lumberjack statue remains in Flagstaff, but now stands inside the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome
Walkup Skydome
The J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome is an indoor multi-purpose stadium in Flagstaff, Arizona, on the campus of Northern Arizona University. Opened in September 1977, it is the home of the NAU Lumberjacks football and basketball teams of the Big Sky Conference. The seating capacity is 16,230, with...

 on the campus of Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University
Northern Arizona University is a public university located in Flagstaff, Arizona, United States. It is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and has 39 satellite campuses in the state of Arizona. The university offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees.As of...

. A second, very similar statue was also moved from the Lumberjack Cafe to the exterior of the Skydome.

Most of the film is shot outside with natural lighting. While this can be attributed to the film being a road movie, at the time Hopper said all the outdoor shooting was an intentional choice on his part, because "God is a great gaffer." The production used two five-ton trucks, one for the equipment and one for the motorcycle
Motorcycle
A motorcycle is a single-track, two-wheeled motor vehicle. Motorcycles vary considerably depending on the task for which they are designed, such as long distance travel, navigating congested urban traffic, cruising, sport and racing, or off-road conditions.Motorcycles are one of the most...

s, with the cast and crew in a motor home. One of the locations was Monument Valley
Monument Valley
Monument Valley is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching above the valley floor. It is located on the northern border of Arizona with southern Utah , near the Four Corners area...

.

The restaurant scenes with Fonda, Hopper, and Nicholson were shot in Morganza, Louisiana
Morganza, Louisiana
Morganza is an incorporated village near the Mississippi River in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana, United States. The population was 659 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Statistical Area. The village's zip code is 70759...

. The men and girls in that scene were all Morganza locals. In order to inspire more vitriolic commentary from the local men, Hopper told them the characters of Billy, Wyatt, and George had raped and killed a girl outside of town. The scene in which Billy and Wyatt were shot was filmed on Louisiana Highway 105
Louisiana Highway 105
Louisiana Highway 105 is a state highway in Louisiana that serves Avoyelles Parish and Saint Landry Parish. It spans north/south for...

 North just outside of Krotz Springs, Louisiana
Krotz Springs, Louisiana
Krotz Springs is a town in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana on the Atchafalaya River. The population was 1,219 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Opelousas–Eunice Micropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

, and the two other men in the scene were Krotz Springs locals, Johnny David and D.C. Billedeau.

While shooting the cemetery scene, Hopper tried to convince Fonda to talk to the statue of the Madonna
Mary (mother of Jesus)
Mary , commonly referred to as "Saint Mary", "Mother Mary", the "Virgin Mary", the "Blessed Virgin Mary", or "Mary, Mother of God", was a Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee...

 as though it were Fonda's mother
Frances Ford Seymour
Frances Ford Seymour was a socialite, the second wife of actor Henry Fonda and the mother of actors Jane Fonda and Peter Fonda.-Early life:...

 (who had committed suicide
Suicide
Suicide is the act of intentionally causing one's own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair or attributed to some underlying mental disorder, such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, alcoholism, or drug abuse...

 when he was 10 years old) and ask her why she left him. Although Fonda was reluctant, he eventually complied. Later, Fonda used the inclusion of this scene as leverage to persuade Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

 to allow the use of his cover of Bob Dylan's "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
"It's Alright, Ma " is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home. It was written in the summer of 1964, first performed live on October 10, 1964, and recorded on January 15, 1965...

".

Despite being filmed in the first half of 1968, roughly between Mardi Gras
New Orleans Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Louisiana, is a Carnival celebration well-known throughout the world.The New Orleans Carnival season, with roots in preparing for the start of the Christian season of Lent, starts after Twelfth Night, on Epiphany . It is a season of parades, balls , and king cake parties...

 and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

, with production starting on February 22 the film did not have a U.S. premiere
Premiere
A premiere is generally "a first performance". This can refer to plays, films, television programs, operas, symphonies, ballets and so on. Premieres for theatrical, musical and other cultural presentations can become extravagant affairs, attracting large numbers of socialites and much media...

 until July 1969, after having won an award at the Cannes film festival
Cannes Film Festival
The Cannes International Film Festival , is an annual film festival held in Cannes, France, which previews new films of all genres including documentaries from around the world. Founded in 1946, it is among the world's most prestigious and publicized film festivals...

 in May. The delay was partially due to a protracted editing process. Inspired by 2001: A Space Odyssey
2001: A Space Odyssey (film)
2001: A Space Odyssey is a 1968 epic science fiction film produced and directed by Stanley Kubrick, and co-written by Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke, partially inspired by Clarke's short story The Sentinel...

,
one of Hopper's proposed cuts was 220 minutes long, including extensive use of the "flash-forward
Flashforward
A flashforward is an interjected scene that takes the narrative forward in time from the current point of the story in literature, film, television and other media. Flashforwards are often used to represent events expected, projected, or imagined to occur in the future...

" narrative device, wherein scenes from later in the movie are inserted into the current scene. But only one flash-forward survives in the final edit, when Wyatt in the New Orleans brothel has a premonition of the final scene. At the request of Bob Rafelson
Bob Rafelson
Robert "Bob" Rafelson is an Emmy Award winning American film director, writer and producer. He was an early member of the New Hollywood movement in the 1970s and is most famous for directing and co-writing the film Five Easy Pieces, starring Jack Nicholson, as well as being one of the creators of...

 and Bert Schneider
Bert Schneider
Berton "Bert" Schneider is an American movie producer, who was behind a number of important and topical films of the late-1960s and early-1970s. The son of Abraham Schneider, onetime president of Columbia Pictures, the younger Schneider tended toward the rebellious. He briefly attended Cornell...

, Henry Jaglom
Henry Jaglom
- Life and career :Born January 26, 1941 in London, England to Simon and Marie Jaglom, Henry Jaglom trained with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio in New York, where he acted, wrote and directed off-Broadway theater and cabaret before settling in Hollywood in the late 1960s...

 was brought in to edit the film into its current form, while Schneider purchased Hopper a trip to Taos so he would not interfere with the recut. Upon seeing the final cut, Hopper was originally displeased, saying that his movie was "turned into a TV show", but eventually accepted, claiming that Jaglom had crafted the film the way Hopper had originally intended. Despite the large part he played in shaping the film, Jaglom only received credit as an "Editorial Consultant".

Motorcycles

The motorcycles for the film, based on hardtail frames
Motorcycle frame
A motorcycle frame includes the head tube that holds the front fork and allows it to pivot. Some motorcycles include the engine as a load-bearing, stressed member. The rear suspension is an integral component in the design. Traditionally frames have been steel, but titanium, aluminium, magnesium,...

 and Panhead engines, were designed and built by chopper
Chopper (motorcycle)
A chopper is a type of motorcycle that was either modified from an original motorcycle design or built from scratch to have a hand-crafted appearance. The main features of a chopper that make it stand out are its longer frame design accompanied by a stretch front end...

 builders Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy, following ideas of Peter Fonda, and handled by Tex Hall and Dan Haggerty
Dan Haggerty
Dan Haggerty is an American actor, best known for the title role in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams....

 during shooting.

In total, four former police officer bikes were used in the film. The 1949, 1950 and 1952 Harley Davidson Hydra-Glide bikes were purchased at an auction for US$ 500 (equivalent to approx. US$ 2500 at 2007 currency rates). Each bike had a backup to make sure that shooting could continue in case one of the old machines failed or got wrecked accidentally. One "Captain America " was demolished in the final scene, while the other three were stolen and probably taken apart before their significance as movie props
Theatrical property
A theatrical property, commonly referred to as a prop, is an object used on stage by actors to further the plot or story line of a theatrical production. Smaller props are referred to as "hand props". Larger props may also be set decoration, such as a chair or table. The difference between a set...

 became known. The demolished bike was rebuilt by Dan Haggerty
Dan Haggerty
Dan Haggerty is an American actor, best known for the title role in The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams....

 and shown in a museum. He sold it at an auction in 2001. Many other replicas have been built since the film’s release.

Hopper and Fonda hosted a wrap party for the movie and then realized they had not shot the final campfire scene. Thus, it was shot after the bikes had already been stolen, which is why they are not visible in the background as in the other campfire scenes.

Significance

A box office hit with a $19 million intake, along with Bonnie and Clyde
Bonnie and Clyde (film)
The film was originally offered to François Truffaut, the best-known director of the New Wave movement, who made contributions to the script. He passed on the project to make Fahrenheit 451. The producers approached Jean-Luc Godard next...

and The Graduate
The Graduate
The Graduate is a 1967 American comedy-drama motion picture directed by Mike Nichols. It is based on the 1963 novel The Graduate by Charles Webb, who wrote it shortly after graduating from Williams College. The screenplay was by Buck Henry, who makes a cameo appearance as a hotel clerk, and Calder...

, Easy Rider helped kick-start the New Hollywood
New Hollywood
New Hollywood or post-classical Hollywood, sometimes referred to as the "American New Wave", refers to the time from roughly the late-1960s to the early 1980s when a new generation of young filmmakers came to prominence in America, influencing the types of films produced, their production and...

 phase during the late 1960s and early 1970s. The major studios realized that money could be made from low-budget films made by avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 directors. Heavily influenced by the French New Wave
French New Wave
The New Wave was a blanket term coined by critics for a group of French filmmakers of the late 1950s and 1960s, influenced by Italian Neorealism and classical Hollywood cinema. Although never a formally organized movement, the New Wave filmmakers were linked by their self-conscious rejection of...

, the films of the so-called "post-classical Hollywood" came to represent a counterculture generation increasingly disillusioned with its government as well as the government's effects on the world at large, the Establishment. Although Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

 appears only as a supporting actor and in the last half of the film, the standout performance signaled his arrival as a movie star, along with his subsequent film Five Easy Pieces
Five Easy Pieces
Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 American drama film written by Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson, and directed by Rafelson. The film stars Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, and Susan Anspach. The cast also includes Billy 'Green' Bush, Fannie Flagg, Ralph Waite, Sally Struthers, Lois Smith, Toni Basil, and...

in which he had the lead role.

The film's success, and the new era of Hollywood that it helped usher in, gave Hopper the chance to direct again with complete artistic control. The result was 1971's The Last Movie
The Last Movie
The Last Movie is a 1971 drama film from Universal Pictures. It was written and directed by Dennis Hopper, who also played a horse wrangler named after the state of Kansas. It also starred Peter Fonda, Henry Jaglom and Michelle Phillips...

, which was a notable box office and critical failure, effectively ending Hopper's career as a director for well over a decade.

Awards and honors

Hopper received the First Film Award (Prix de la première œuvre) at the 1969 Cannes Film Festival
1969 Cannes Film Festival
The 22nd Cannes Film Festival was held on May 8 - 23, 1969. At this festival a new non-competitive section called "Directors' Fortnight" is added, in response to the cancellation of the 1968 festival.-Jury:*Luchino Visconti...

. At the Academy Awards
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

, Jack Nicholson was nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry. Since its inception, however, the...

, and the film was also nominated for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Based on Material Not Previously Published or Produced.

The film appears at number 88 on the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

's list of 100 Years, 100 Movies. In 1998, Easy Rider was added to the United States National Film Registry
National Film Registry
The National Film Registry is the United States National Film Preservation Board's selection of films for preservation in the Library of Congress. The Board, established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, was reauthorized by acts of Congress in 1992, 1996, 2005, and again in October 2008...

, having been deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 recognition
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies
    AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies
    The first of the AFI 100 Years… series of cinematic milestones, AFI's 100 Years…100 Movies is a list of the 100 best American movies, as determined by the American Film Institute from a poll of more than 1,500 artists and leaders in the film industry who chose from a list of 400 nominated movies...

     #88
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs
    AFI's 100 Years... 100 Songs
    Part of the AFI 100 Years… series, AFI's 100 Years…100 Songs is a list of the top 100 songs in American cinema. The list was unveiled by the American Film Institute June 22, 2004 in a CBS special hosted by John Travolta, who appeared in two films honored by the list, Saturday Night Fever and...

     #29
    • Born to be Wild
      Born to Be Wild
      "Born to Be Wild" is a rock song written by Mars Bonfire and made famous by the Canadian-American rock band Steppenwolf. It is often used in popular culture to denote a biker appearance or attitude...

  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) #84

Music

The movie's "groundbreaking" soundtrack featured The Band
The Band
The Band was an acclaimed and influential roots rock group. The original group consisted of Rick Danko , Garth Hudson , Richard Manuel , and Robbie Robertson , and Levon Helm...

, The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience
The Jimi Hendrix Experience were an English-American psychedelic rock band that formed in London in October 1966. Comprising eponymous singer-songwriter and guitarist Jimi Hendrix, bassist and backing vocalist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell, the band was active until June 1969, in which...

, and Steppenwolf
Steppenwolf (band)
Steppenwolf are a Canadian-American rock group that was prominent in the late 1960s. The group was formed in 1967 in Los Angeles by vocalist John Kay, guitarist Michael Monarch, bassist Rushton Moreve, keyboardist Goldy McJohn and drummer Jerry Edmonton after the dissolution of Toronto group The...

. Editor Donn Cambern used various music from his own record collection to make watching hours of bike footage more interesting during editing. Most of Cambern's music was used, with licensing costs of $1 million, more than the budget of the film. When CSN viewed a rough cut of the film, they assured Hopper that they could not do any better than he already had.

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, musician, poet, film director and painter. He has been a major and profoundly influential figure in popular music and culture for five decades. Much of his most celebrated work dates from the 1960s when he was an informal chronicler and a seemingly...

 was asked to contribute music, but was reluctant to use his own recording of "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)
"It's Alright, Ma " is a song written and performed by Bob Dylan and first released on his 1965 album, Bringing It All Back Home. It was written in the summer of 1964, first performed live on October 10, 1964, and recorded on January 15, 1965...

", so a version performed by Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn
Roger McGuinn
James Roger McGuinn is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. He is best known for being the lead singer and lead guitarist on many of The Byrds' records...

 was used instead. Also, instead of writing an entirely new song for the film, Dylan simply wrote out the first verse of “Ballad of Easy Rider
Ballad of Easy Rider
Ballad of Easy Rider is the eighth album by the American rock band The Byrds and was released in November 1969 on Columbia Records . The album was named after the song "Ballad of Easy Rider", which had been penned by The Byrds' guitarist and singer, Roger McGuinn , as the theme song for the 1969...

” and told the filmmakers, “Give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it.” McGuinn completed the song and performed it in the film.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
x
OK