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.
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