Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Easy Rider (Special Edition)
#88 (1998) and #84 (2007) on the AFI Top 100 American Movies of all time.
Easy Rider is a 1969 American road movie written by Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, and Terry Southern, produced by Fonda and directed by Hopper. It tells the story of two bikers (played by Fonda and Hopper) who travel through the American Southwest and South with the aim of achieving freedom. The success of Easy Rider helped spark the New Hollywood phase of filmmaking during the late sixties. The film was added to the Library of Congress National Registry in 1998.
A landmark counterculture film, and a "touchstone for a generation" that "captured the national imagination," Easy Rider explores the societal landscape, issues, and tensions in the United States during the 1960s, such as the rise and fall of the hippie movement, drug use, and communal lifestyle. Easy Rider is famous for its use of real drugs in its portrayal of marijuana and other substances.
* Peter Fonda as Wyatt
* Dennis Hopper as Billy
* Jack Nicholson as George Hanson
* Luke Askew as Stranger on Highway
* Phil Spector as Connection
* Karen Black as Karen
* Toni Basil as Mary
* Antonio Mendoza as Jesus
* Mac Mashourian as Bodyguard
* Warren Finnerty as Rancher
* Tita Colorado as Rancher's Wife
* Luana Anders as Lisa
* Sabrina Scharf as Sarah
* Robert Walker Jr. as Jack
* Sandy Brown Wyeth as Joanne
The motorcycles for the film, based on hardtail frames and Panhead engines, were designed and built by chopper builders Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy, following ideas of Peter Fonda, and handled by Tex Hall and Dan Haggerty during shooting.
In total, four former police bikes were used in the film. The 1949, 1950 and 1952 Harley Davidson Hydra-Glide bikes were purchased at an auction for $500, equivalent to about $3300 in current money. Each bike had a backup to make sure that shooting could continue in case one of the old machines failed or got wrecked accidentally. One "Captain America " was demolished in the final scene, while the other three were stolen and probably taken apart before their significance as movie props became known. The demolished bike was rebuilt by Dan Haggerty and shown in a museum. He sold it at an auction in 2001. It now resides at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, Iowa. Many replicas have been built since the film’s release.
Hopper and Fonda hosted a wrap party for the movie and then realized they had not shot the final campfire scene. Thus, it was shot after the bikes had already been stolen, which is why they are not visible in the background as in the other campfire scenes.
The movie's "groundbreaking" soundtrack featured The Band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and Steppenwolf. Editor Donn Cambern used various music from his own record collection to make watching hours of bike footage more interesting during editing. Most of Cambern's music was used, with licensing costs of $1 million, more than the budget of the film. When CSN viewed a rough cut of the film, they assured Hopper that they could not do any better than he already had.
Bob Dylan was asked to contribute music, but was reluctant to use his own recording of "It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)", so a version performed by Byrds frontman Roger McGuinn was used instead. Also, instead of writing an entirely new song for the film, Dylan simply wrote out the first verse of “Ballad of Easy Rider” and told the filmmakers, “Give this to McGuinn, he’ll know what to do with it.” McGuinn completed the song and performed it in the film.