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HISTORY

Five Easy Pieces was Jack Nicholson’s first starring role.
       An item in the 7 Nov 1969 DV announced that the film was “being shot on the Columbia lot” in Hollywood, CA. A few weeks later, shooting moved to OR, according to the 1 Dec 1969 DV. The scenes of the seaside “Dupea” family home were filmed at an eleven-room mansion outside of Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada. The 11 Jan 1970 LAT reported that the $1-million film was “tentatively” titled Five Easy Pieces at that point. On the set, Nicholson explained that his participation in the film grew out of “a handshake deal” he made with producer-director-writer Bob Rafelson before his recent co-starring role in Easy Rider (1969, see entry) launched him to stardom. Nicholson and Rafelson co-wrote and co-produced the 1968 film, Head (see entry), starring The Monkees.
       The film received glowing reviews and did well at the box office. One of its scenes, in which Nicholson’s character, “Bobby Depea,” tussles with a diner waitress while ordering a chicken salad sandwich, has become part of moviegoers’ permanent “collective memory,” according to Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert.
       Five Easy Pieces was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture (Bob Rafelson and Richard Wechsler), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Supporting Actress (Karen Black), and Writing—Original Screenplay (Bob Rafelson and Adrien Joyce). Joyce, who was also credited with writing the story, was a pseudonym for Carole ... More Less

Five Easy Pieces was Jack Nicholson’s first starring role.
       An item in the 7 Nov 1969 DV announced that the film was “being shot on the Columbia lot” in Hollywood, CA. A few weeks later, shooting moved to OR, according to the 1 Dec 1969 DV. The scenes of the seaside “Dupea” family home were filmed at an eleven-room mansion outside of Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, Canada. The 11 Jan 1970 LAT reported that the $1-million film was “tentatively” titled Five Easy Pieces at that point. On the set, Nicholson explained that his participation in the film grew out of “a handshake deal” he made with producer-director-writer Bob Rafelson before his recent co-starring role in Easy Rider (1969, see entry) launched him to stardom. Nicholson and Rafelson co-wrote and co-produced the 1968 film, Head (see entry), starring The Monkees.
       The film received glowing reviews and did well at the box office. One of its scenes, in which Nicholson’s character, “Bobby Depea,” tussles with a diner waitress while ordering a chicken salad sandwich, has become part of moviegoers’ permanent “collective memory,” according to Chicago Sun-Times critic Roger Ebert.
       Five Easy Pieces was nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture (Bob Rafelson and Richard Wechsler), Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Supporting Actress (Karen Black), and Writing—Original Screenplay (Bob Rafelson and Adrien Joyce). Joyce, who was also credited with writing the story, was a pseudonym for Carole Eastman.
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Nov 1969.
---
Daily Variety
1 Dec 1969.
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Los Angeles Times
11 Jan 1970
Section N, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
27 Sep 1970
Calendar, p. 22.
Los Angeles Times
27 Feb 2004.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Story
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Interior des
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Piano solo
SOUND
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
Loc mgr
Prod coordinator
Key grip
Casting
Prop master
SOURCES
MUSIC
Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach
Piano Concerto in E-flat Major, K. 271 and Fantasy in D Minor, K. 397 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Fantasy in F Minor, op. 49 and Prelude in E minor, Opus 28, No. 4 by Frédéric Chopin.
SONGS
"Stand by Your Man," words and music by Billy Sherrill and Tammy Wynette
"D-I-V-O-R-C-E," words and music by Bobby Braddock and Claude Putman
"When There's a Fire in Your Heart," words and music by Merle Kilgore and Sonny Williams
+
SONGS
"Stand by Your Man," words and music by Billy Sherrill and Tammy Wynette
"D-I-V-O-R-C-E," words and music by Bobby Braddock and Claude Putman
"When There's a Fire in Your Heart," words and music by Merle Kilgore and Sonny Williams
"Don't Touch Me," words and music by H. Cochran. All songs sung by Tammy Wynette.
+
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
12 September 1970
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 September 1970
Production Date:
November 1969 - January 1970
Copyright Claimant:
B. B. S. Productions
Copyright Date:
1 September 1970
Copyright Number:
LP38186
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
96
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Classical pianist Robert Dupea, who comes from a family of musicians, works in a California oil field. Most of his time is spent in bowling alleys, drinking beer in the trailer of his friend Elton, or with his waitress girl friend, Rayette. When he learns that she is pregnant, he quits his job and leaves for Los Angeles where his sister Partita, also a pianist, is making a recording. Partita informs him that their father has suffered two strokes and urges him to return to the family home on Puget Sound. He tells Rayette that he must go to see the old man and reluctantly agrees to take her along. On the way, they pick up Palm and Terry, two lesbians whose constant chatter about ecology increasingly annoys Robert. The four of them are thrown out of a restaurant when he becomes involved in an argument with a waitress who cannot bring his special order. Eventually, Robert reaches his destination; embarrassed by Rayette's lack of polish, he registers her in a motel and goes to visit his father, who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. At dinner that night, he meets Catherine Van Ost, a young pianist engaged to his brother Carl, a violinist; in spite of personality differences, Robert and Catherine become attracted to each other and make love in her room. Meanwhile, Rayette becomes bored at the motel and comes to the Dupea estate unannounced. Her presence creates an awkward situation, but when Samia, a pompous family friend, ridicules Rayette's background, Robert is forced into a fiery defense of her. Storming from the room, he discovers his father's huge male nurse giving a massage ... +


Classical pianist Robert Dupea, who comes from a family of musicians, works in a California oil field. Most of his time is spent in bowling alleys, drinking beer in the trailer of his friend Elton, or with his waitress girl friend, Rayette. When he learns that she is pregnant, he quits his job and leaves for Los Angeles where his sister Partita, also a pianist, is making a recording. Partita informs him that their father has suffered two strokes and urges him to return to the family home on Puget Sound. He tells Rayette that he must go to see the old man and reluctantly agrees to take her along. On the way, they pick up Palm and Terry, two lesbians whose constant chatter about ecology increasingly annoys Robert. The four of them are thrown out of a restaurant when he becomes involved in an argument with a waitress who cannot bring his special order. Eventually, Robert reaches his destination; embarrassed by Rayette's lack of polish, he registers her in a motel and goes to visit his father, who is confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak. At dinner that night, he meets Catherine Van Ost, a young pianist engaged to his brother Carl, a violinist; in spite of personality differences, Robert and Catherine become attracted to each other and make love in her room. Meanwhile, Rayette becomes bored at the motel and comes to the Dupea estate unannounced. Her presence creates an awkward situation, but when Samia, a pompous family friend, ridicules Rayette's background, Robert is forced into a fiery defense of her. Storming from the room, he discovers his father's huge male nurse giving a massage to the semi-nude Partita; even more angered, Robert picks a senseless fight with him and is quickly knocked to the floor. After a frustrating attempt to talk with his father, Robert leaves with Rayette. Unable to function in the intellectual world of his family or in the working-class world of the oil fields, he stops at a gas station, abandons Rayette when she goes in for some coffee, and hitches a ride on a truck. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.