A landmark in film history, EASY RIDER blew the studio doors open for more young directors than any film before or since, helping to create the wide-open climate that would lead to the production of many outstanding films in the 1970s. As its director, Dennis Hopper is usually given the lion's share of credit for the film's success, but the revelations of time suggest that the contributions of the late Terry Southern and, to some degree, Jack Nicholson have endowed the film with much of its residual power. Starring Peter Fonda as Wyatt (alias Captain America) and Hopper as Billy, it traces the hippie duo's adventures as they mount their seriously chopped hogs on a journey to find the real America en route to Mardi Gras. In Arizona, they visit a commune whose members are having a tough time, and in a small Texas town they're jailed for joining a parade. But they're quickly sprung by an ACLU lawyer, the quirky, hard-drinking George Hanson (Jack Nicholson), who accepts their offer to join them on the trip to New Orleans, eager to visit the best whorehouse in the South. EASY RIDER accurately reflects the tensions and hostilities of the period, Laszlo Kovacs's photography is superb, Nicholson is exceptional in his breakthrough role--and the startling, stunning ending is a shocker.
Main Cast & Crew:
Dennis Hopper - Director
- Format: DVD (Special Edition)
- Run Time: 95
- Color Format: Color
- UPC: 043396017498
- Genre: Drama
- Rating: R (MPAA)
- Release Date: June 1998
This landmark film stars Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as Wyatt (alias Captain America) and Billy, respectively. After closing a big-time coke deal in L.A., the two bikers head their hogs east, trying to discover the real America on the way to Mardi Gras. On the way, they cruise Monument Valley, spend some time at a commune, get thrown in jail, and try to deal with the negative vibes their hippie regalia provokes in most of the citizenry. Directed by Dennis Hopper at the age of 31 for a mere $340,000, this film went on to make multiple millions and change the pop culture landscape. This often-imitated-but-never-duplicated movie defined a generation and has a great soundtrack (featuring the Byrds, the Band, Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, the Electric Prunes, and more). Record producer Phil Spector is also featured in the film, and late novelist Terry Southern (THE MAGIC CHRISTIAN) collaborated with Hopper and Fonda on the script. The film also features a riotous turn by Jack Nicholson.
Theatrical release: July 14, 1969. Shooting locations: Lafayette and New Orleans, LA; Las Vegas, NV; Monument Valley, UT; Wupatki Sunset Crater Volcano, AZ; and New Mexico. EASY RIDER was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 1998. Rip Torn was originally slated for the role of George Hanson, but withdrew shortly before production began. Dennis Hopper carried a loaded pistol throughout production. Of the motorcycles used in the film, one burned, and three were stolen before the end of production. As a result, the final scene had to be shot around a campfire. EASY RIDER is number 88 in the American Film Institute's list of the 100 greatest American movies. EASY RIDER was Dennis Hopper's directorial debut. The film cost $340,000 to make; it grossed $19 million in the U.S. alone.
"...Marvelous outdoor photography..." -- 3 1/2 out of 4 stars - 11/24/1995 USA Today, p.4D
"...There's nothing safe about Hopper's directorial debut....A pointedly bad trip..." - 08/05/1994 Entertainment Weekly, pp.56-7
"...A period piece of special value, because it captures so surely the tone and look of a particular moment in time..." - 06/01/1995 Chicago Sun-Times, p.27
"[A] major hit, launching an era of 'youth movies' in the '70s that became the most wildly creative, lunatics-running-the-asylum chapter in Hollywood history..." - 12/01/2003 Premiere, p.11
"It looks as mythically beautiful as it did back in '69." - 08/01/2004 Uncut, p.134
"EASY RIDER is a distilled expression of counterculture cool, with a long-haired Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper roaring through middle America on souped-up choppers, while Steppenwolf blares on the soundtrack." -- Grade: A- - 04/30/2016 A.V. Club