Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Drama / Music (more)
Tagline: He Rode The Fast Lane On The Road To Nowhere.
Plot Outline: A trashy oil rigger returns home to comfort his dying father, where he is confronted with the past he ran away from: A successful career as a classical pianist. (more) (view trailer)
The decade when movies mattered.
7.4/10 (4,538 votes)
Australia:M / Finland:K-16 / New Zealand:R16 / USA:R / UK:15 / UK:AA (original rating)
When Dupea goes to quit his oil-rigging job, the loud whirring of machines can be heard in the background. This identical sound effect was used seven years later by George Lucas, for the trash compacter scene in Star Wars (1977).
Continuity: A full rack of ten pins appears after Rayette picks up the spare following her gutter ball.
When I was four, just four years old, I went to my mother and I said, "What's this hole in my chin?" - I saw this dimple in my chin in the mirror, and didn't know what it was. And my mother said - get what my mother says - she says, "When you're born, you go on a assembly line past God, and if He likes you, He says,
[grabs her cheeks with both her hands]
"You cute little thing!" and you get dimples there. And if He doesn't like you, He goes,
[presses one finger on her chin]
"Go away." So about six months later, my mother found me saying my prayers, and I was going,
Nominated for 4 Oscars.
Another 15 wins
24 out of 26 people found the following comment useful:-
The decade when movies mattered., 20 August 2005
filmfactsman (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Beverly Hills, CA
The themes and issues of the Sixties rapidly matured and by the
decade's end the sense of antagonism and opposition in the country had
deepened. On one side was the Nixon administration, firm in its belief
that a "silent majority" of Americans endorsed its related policies of
"peace with honor" in Vietnam and confrontation rather than
conciliation with the burgeoning antiwar movement at home. Meanwhile,
on the other side was a counterculture which grew daily more secure in
its abundance, militant in its politics, confident and diversified in
its culture (rock 'n' roll), its rituals (drugs) and its varied
Into such an atmosphere 1970's "Five Easy Pieces" arrived. The "easy"
of the title echoed "Easy Rider" (1969) and the film's protagonist,
Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson), seemed a likely elaboration of the
supporting character Nicholson had portrayed in the earlier film. There
were certain structural similarities between the two movies, but "Five
Easy Pieces" illuminated the distance between 1969 and 1970 in its
suggestion that the resentment and anger in the land were no longer a
sole affliction of the young but could be located in any American. The
badge of youth culture (a hot bike, long hair, drugs, etc.) was no
longer necessary to convey the sense of crisis; the outsider of the
film is not a "hippie," nor in his lifestyle evidently antisocial.
Bobby's is a private ordeal, and one of the fundamental premises of the
film is that Bobby seeks not the solidarity of Haight-Ashbury but
rather a world adverse to Sixties youth: the closed blue-collar
universe of the Southern California oil fields and the culture of beer,
bowling and country music that sustains it. A classically trained
pianist from an intellectual background, Bobby has fled his
culture-worshiping family--first for the Las Vegas honky-tonks, now a
step further to the manual labor of the oil fields. We meet him in the
latter setting, one in which he at first seems to thrive; the film then
back steps to reveal his true background. This structure tends to
legitimize Bobby's alternative life, while it casts suspicion over his
actual one, implicating us in the film's tension and subject: the acute
identity crisis of a man who doesn't fit in. The search for a person's
identity has seldom been better shown. The film is more character study
than story, and the tale has no compelling tension, other than the
excellence of the players.
"Five Easy Pieces" has been called a "road picture," a genre that is
peculiarly American because it is about homeless people in search of
something. In "Easy Rider" featuring Nicholson along with Peter Fonda
and Dennis Hopper, the search was for a life-style, a place to settle
down among like-thinking people and yet retain independence. But we
never knew who the people really were and what made them the restless
souls they turned out to be. What sets "Five Easy Pieces" apart from
other road films is that we come to know the hero's roots. He returns
home. And his visit tells us why he left.
The film is full of odd, funny moments (like the memorable waitress
scene) and unusual movie characters including Karen Black's Rayette,
Bobby's pregnant girlfriend, Sally Struthers's floozy Bette and Helena
Kallianiotes's constantly complaining hitchhiker Palm Apodaca. But the
humor is cut by Tammy Wynette's shattered-dreams songs on the
soundtrack and an assortment of pathetic characters who are trapped in
wheelchairs and neck braces, or by their own insecurities or
circumstances. We aren't supposed to admire Bobby for escaping his
trap, life with the likable but annoying Rayette (who often sings
Wynette's "Stand by Your Man"), but we would understand that he would
suffocate if he committed himself to her. So we accept his running away
because it is for her benefit more than his own.
As disaffected a character as Bobby Dupea is, he was sort of an
Everyman in 1970. Young viewers in the counterculture realized that
Bobby didn't share their discontent with the political state of
America, and they didn't relate to his present or past lives, but they
did identify with Bobby's outsider status; restlessness; fury and
irritation when pressured; sexual energy; inability to fit comfortably
into marriage, parenthood, or other niches; need to keep the exit door
within sight; disappointment in himself; and desperation to mend and
give meaning to his life. They could relate to his feeling that nothing
in America worked properly, that everything was geared to drive a
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