84 – Easy Rider (1969)

Billy: Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.

 

Seen before?

F: Nope.

R: Once, more than a decade ago.

 

Thoughts?

F: I’m not sure whether to admit this on a film blog but I’m 100% blaming you Rob for making me think Peter Fonda was Jack Nicholson until Jack Nicholson showed up! I knew Nicholson was only in this film briefly but you convinced me he was a main star and so I just thought Wyatt was him!

R: The last time I saw this film was back when people would tell me I needed to get my hair cut, and I was likely more-than-a-little intoxicated. I can only apologise that my muddle-mindedness got you muddled up too. But there is definitely a resemblance there, and neither of us have seen a young Nicholson or Fonda in anything recently, so let’s not be too hard on ourselves.

F: Yes definitely a likeness. But Jack Nicholson has one of the most famous faces in Hollywood. And no one plays the creepy/crazy character better. For me the film jumped up a level when his character was introduced.

R: I agree that a lot of what comes before the George Hanson character is introduced is just scene-setting. It’s really only once he’s involved that we get a hint of what this film is really about, and that it has more to offer than simply celebrating a certain kind of lifestyle.

F: Agree it starts off like a typical 60’s road movie which I was enjoying but it becomes about more once it gets going. Did you enjoy the soundtrack?

R: Of course! Who wouldn’t? You’ve got some of the best tracks of the ’60s in there. The soundtrack is pretty essential to the ambience of the movie, isn’t it?

F: Absolutely. Any good road trip movie needs the accompanying soundtrack. I must say though some of the editing was a bit suspect. The weird cutaways where it flicked between the new scene and the previous scene about three times I didn’t like very much.

R: It was probably supposed to convey the drugged-out disorientation of the main characters and give you a sense of the days blurring into one, but I think it’s fair to say it wasn’t totally successful. It does though help give the film a unique feel. It would be relatively easy to guess the year that this came out if you didn’t know.

F: It didn’t work at all in my eyes. This film is very much of its time but was probably a more accurate reflection of a lot of young people in America in the late 60’s than other films from that era.

R: You think? Were there a lot of young people in the 60’s trafficking large amounts of cocaine?

F: Very funny. It’s more that a lot of other films from that time had a fairly rose tinted view of this subject. This was a bit more like The Last Picture Show in the sense it had genuine characters in realistic situations.

R: Sure, the characters are all pretty believable, despite being on the wild side. But this is a more avant-garde film than The Last Picture Show, despite having a very simple plot. I think though that’s how it gets away with having so very little in the way of exposition. We are basically just thrown into the lives of these guys and left to make of the film whatever we want.

F: I think I was left feeling a bit shortchanged only because the ending was so abrupt! Without wanting to give away any spoilers, I was taken aback by how the film suddenly ended. Not sure I liked it that much.

R: I love the ending, and would say it’s the most important part of the film. Tellingly, it was the almost the only thing I remembered from watching it all those years ago. Watching it this second time I found it really coloured how I saw the earlier scenes. I reckon you might need to see the film again before deciding conclusively whether or not it works.

 

Is it worthy of the top 100?

F: Yes but only just – the ending did slightly taint my opinion.

R: It’s a much deeper film than it appears at first glance. A definite yes from me.

Up next:
83 – Titanic (1997)
Previously:
85 – A Night At The Opera (1935)
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