Golden Anniversaries: Films of 1970

Five Easy Pieces with Calvin Wilson

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Five Easy Pieces

Bob Rafelson, U.S., 1970, 98 min.

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Following Jack Nicholson’s breakout supporting turn in “Easy Rider,” director Bob Rafelson devised a powerful leading role for the new star in the searing character study “Five Easy Pieces.” Nicholson plays the now iconic cad Bobby Dupea, a shiftless thirtysomething oil rigger and former piano prodigy immune to any sense of responsibility, who returns to his upper-middle-class childhood home, blue-collar girlfriend (Karen Black, in an Oscar-nominated role) in tow, to see his estranged, ailing father. Moving in its simplicity and gritty in its textures, “Five Easy Pieces” is a lasting example of early 1970s American alienation.

Intro and discussion by Calvin Wilson, theater critic and former film critic for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.