Archived: Five easy pieces


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Five Easy Pieces, feature film, drama, USA, 1970 DIRECTED BY: Bob Rafelson

CAST: Jack Nicholson (Robert Eroica Dupea), Karen Black (Rayette Dipesto), Billy Green Bush (Elton), Fannie Flagg (Stoney), Sally Struthers (Betty)

SCRIPT: Carole Eastman

PHOTOGRAPHY: László Kovács

EDITING: Christopher Holmes, Gerald Shepard


Robert Eroica Dupea, aka Bobby, has left his pianist career and is working in the oil fields. He lives with the waitress Rayette with whom he is in a love affair. He accidentally meets his sister Partita, a pianist, and learns from her that their father has become seriously ill. So she decides to visit her wealthy and cultured family living on an island in Washington state in the northwestern United States, and takes pregnant Rayette with her. But the visit turns into a conflict with the family who cannot accept Robert’s decision to end his music career. In addition, Robert became close with his brother's student and potential fiancée Catherine…

Five Easy Pieces is commonly considered the inaugural film of New Hollywood. It was written by Bob Rafelson and Carole Eastman, the latter under her permanent pseudonym Adrien Joyce, with whom she had also written the screenplay for one of the key revisionist westerns of the 1960s and one of the very few films of the genre with the main female character, The Shooting of Monte Hellman. . Nevertheless, the idea holder of the project was the producer and director Rafelson, who was previously, unsigned, one of the producers of the cult independent work Naked in the Saddle (1969) by Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. For Rafelson, Five Easy Pieces was actually a 'real' directorial debut (he formally made his feature film debut in 1968 with Glava, an 'applied' work of psychedelic prose in the service of the Monkees, promoted as a more radical version of Richard Lester's Beatles films). resonated strongly for several reasons. Although initially an independent production of Rafelson's BBS, Hollywood Major Columbia was heavily involved in the production, and although the majors knew how to have a stake in some of the short-lived American (proto) modernism films of the 1960s, Warner Bros. co-produced Penn's Bonnie and Clyde in 1967. .), Five Easy Pieces was then a rare case of an artistically unconventionally ambitious film in the production of which one of the largest Hollywood companies is directly involved. The great critical success, but also the solid commercial performance, which grew significantly over the years (the film was continuously in the North American cinema network for five years), forced Hollywood powerful people to open the door to a different type of film, which will ultimately result in the bravest era in the history of American cinema, the so-called New Hollywood of the 1970s. Narrative-dramaturgical prose Five Light Pieces was then quite a novelty for Hollywood cinema: a spilled fable devoid of typical tension and the usual cause-and-effect structure, instead of which viewers get a so-called character study, but without the standard ‘point on i’, without dramaturgical rounding. Consistent with such a conception was the main character of an alienated rebel against tradition and authority, otherwise well known in American cinema (the iconic representative is Rebel Without a Cause by Nicholas Ray), but now presented with a less explicit romantic legacy and no glamor, with a woven legacy of French existentialism and Antonioni's 'neorealism of the soul', and Jack Nicholson made a rich contribution to all this, to whom it was a breakthrough role to the status of a big star. Also, Five Easy Pieces is one of the very few Hollywood films that takes place for the most part in a working-class environment, although it is not a 'real' working-class film given the social background of its (anti) hero. The film was nominated for four Oscars (for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Lead Actor and Supporting Actress – Karen Black), and in 2000 the Library of Congress listed it in the National Film Registry.

COLOR, 98 ′

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