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Logline: A drifter and outcast, who abandoned his upper crust life to work as an oil rigger, returns home to see his dying father.

Review: Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces is one of the best road movies and remains a fascinating character study of a drifter, played by Jack Nicholson at his absolute best.

The 1960s was such an innovative time for cinema around the world.  By the late 60s in America, the old Hollywood studio system had fallen and the New Hollywood emerged.  Enter Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner, who formed BBS Productions, an independent company that produced realistic and innovative films from the late 1960s and into the 1970s.  They were responsible for two of the absolute best films of the 70s: Five Easy Pieces and The Last Picture Show (1971).  Everything in Five Easy Pieces feels so real, so genuine that you feel like you are stepping right into the counterculture rhythm of that time period.

Jack Nicholson starred in a series of Roger Corman films and a couple of westerns before a small role in the BBS produced Easy Rider (1968) launched him to stardom.  I love Nicholson’s early work, before he was typecast in over the top roles and larger than life characters.  As much as I enjoy “crazy Jack”, I love his more subtle performances, as seen here.

A film that can be both funny and emotionally wrenching, Five Easy Pieces is a rare slice of American cinema; a slow, masterful evocation of alienation and the lost American dream.

Great scene: This heartfelt monologue from Nicholson is moving and shows the actor at his best.