Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday American Cinema Classic

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Thursday American Cinema Classic. I’m taking a course called American Cinema Since 1960 where we’re charting the history and development of American Cinema from the 1960s to the present. We’ll be watching some pretty iconic films, some of which I haven’t seen before. Each week, I’ll be providing a short review of one contemporary classic from the annals of recent history.

Easy Rider
Directed by Dennis Hopper
Released July 14, 1969

This film serves as an excellent example of the counterculture in the 1960s featuring Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper as bikers heading south to reach New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras. It’s a film that indulges in lengthy drug trips and truly gets inside the minds and mindsets of these men. The soundtrack and images are iconic, and it’s a truly classic film. Fonda is subdued and compelling as Captain America Wyatt, and Hopper, also working behind the camera, is magnificently unhinged and crazy as his loudmouthed buddy Billy. The best performance, hands-down, in the film is tha of Jack Nicholson as crooked lawyer George Hanson. It was Nicholson’s first Oscar nod, and it’s clear that this actor has an incredible amount of potential. He displays the token Nicholson traits that have become so familiar over the past forty years, though he seems so innocent and youthful at only 32. He’s only onscreen for a very limited amount of time, but it’s an extraordinarily memorable turn. Watch the clip above for an excerpt of his brilliant portrayal. The feel of this movie is one of unfettered exploration, and it’s certainly an experience. By its end, it gets more than a bit caught up with its drug trip sequences, but that’s all part of it, and part of what makes it such a singular film representative of an era.


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