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Five Easy Pieces
     

Five Easy Pieces

4.0 1
Director: Bob Rafelson

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Lois Smith

 

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A disaffected man seeks a sense of identity in one of the key films of Hollywood's 1970s New Wave. Once a promising pianist from a family of classical musicians, Bobby Eroica Dupea (Jack Nicholson, in his first major starring role) leads a blue-collar life as an oil rigger, living with needy waitress girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black) and bowling with their friends

Overview

A disaffected man seeks a sense of identity in one of the key films of Hollywood's 1970s New Wave. Once a promising pianist from a family of classical musicians, Bobby Eroica Dupea (Jack Nicholson, in his first major starring role) leads a blue-collar life as an oil rigger, living with needy waitress girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black) and bowling with their friends Elton (Billy "Green" Bush) and Stoney (Fannie Flagg). Feeling suffocated by responsibilities, Bobby seeks out his sister, Tita (Lois Smith), and, discovering that his father is gravely ill, he reluctantly heads back to the patrician family compound in Puget Sound with a pregnant Rayette in tow. After a road trip featuring a harangue from hitchhiker Palm (Helena Kallianiotes) about filth, and Bobby's ill-fated attempt to make a menu substitution in a diner, he tucks Rayette away in a motel before heading to the house. There Bobby seduces his uptight brother Carl's cultured fiancée, Catherine (Susan Anspach), but Rayette shows up unexpectedly. As Rayette's crassness collides with the snobbery of the Dupea circle, Bobby loses patience with both sides. After trying to reconcile with his mute father, Bobby departs, unwilling to give in to either destiny. Director Bob Rafelson and screenwriter Adrien Joyce (aka Carole Eastman) used the creative control afforded by the low budget to craft a European-influenced character study, catching a cultural mood of anomie and resentment as it was embodied in Bobby. Neither older generation nor hippie, Bobby fits in nowhere, and his desire for independence conflicts with his emotional emptiness. Nicholson's nuanced performance of simmering frustration resonated with 1970 audiences caught between Nixon's "silent majority" and the troubled counterculture; a substantial hit, Five Easy Pieces was nominated for several Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Actor, and established Nicholson as a star. Offering no "easy" answers to Bobby's existential crisis, Five Easy Pieces is one of the pre-eminent films in the early-'70s cycle of alienated American art movies, as even the fantasy of rebellion is reduced to merely running away.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
The role that propelled Jack Nicholson to stardom was his turn as frustrated, disaffected musician-turned-oil-rig-worker Bobby Dupea in Bob Rafelson's moody character study Five Easy Pieces. Many viewers remember it for the classic scene at a diner in which Nicholson orders a chicken salad sandwich without the chicken salad, and it established Nicholson as an icon of angst. The supporting cast, especially Karen Black as Bobby's pregnant girlfriend, and Susan Anspach as his brother's high-class fiancée, is strong. Written by Rafelson and Adrien Joyce, Five Easy Pieces was shot like an arthouse movie, on a low budget, but marketed to a mass audience. It was a key breakthrough in tearing down those divisions between commerce and art in American movies, and in highlighting the class and cultural divisions of the time that were eating away at America's cultural cohesion. Nicholson's classic alienated character was long defined by this film and his Oscar nomination for his role in it. Rafelson, however, did not translate his success with Five Easy Pieces to a memorable career.

Product Details

Release Date:
06/30/2015
UPC:
0715515149112
Original Release:
1970
Rating:
R
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
A
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:38:00
Sales rank:
27,649

Special Features

Restored high-definition digital transfer, supervised by Director of Photography Lászlo Kovács, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack; Audio commentary by Director Bob Rafelson and interior designer Toby Rafelson; Soul Searching in "Five Easy Pieces," a 2009 piece featuring Rafelson; BBStory, a 2009 documentary about the legendary film company BBS Productions, with Rafelson; actors Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, and Ellen Burstyn; filmmakers Peter Bogdanovich and Henry Jaglom; Documentary from 2009 about BBS featuring critic David Thomson and historian Douglas Brinkley; Audio excerpts from a 1976 AFI interview with Rafelson; Trailers and teasers; Plus: An essay by critic Kent Jones

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jack Nicholson Robert Eroica Dupea
Karen Black Rayette Dipesto
Lois Smith Partita Dupea
Susan Anspach Catherine Van Ost
Billy Green Bush Elton
Helena Kallianiotes Palm Apodaca
Sally Struthers Betty
Richard Stahl Recording Engineer
Fannie Flagg Stoney
William Challee Nicholas Dupea
Toni Basil Terry Grouse
John Ryan Spicer
Irene Dailey/Martin Donegan Samia
Lorna Thayer Waitress
Mariena MacGuire Twinky
Ralph Waite Carl Fidelio Dupea

Technical Credits
Bob Rafelson Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Bobby Braddock Songwriter
Christopher Holmes Editor
Andrien Joyce Asst. Director
Adrien Joyce Screenwriter
Merle Kilgore Songwriter
Laszlo Kovacs Cinematographer
Claude Putnam Songwriter
Toby Carr Rafelson Production Designer,Set Decoration/Design
Bucky Rous Costumes/Costume Designer
Bert Schneider Executive Producer
Harold Schneider Associate Producer
Gerald S. Shepard Editor
Billy Sherill Songwriter
Richard Wechsler Producer
Sonny Williams Songwriter
Tammy Wynette Songwriter

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Five Easy Pieces 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Slow moving but worthwhile. Story of a man trying to find himself in a world of irony.