Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Drama, Family Drama, Road Movie  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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The role that propelled Jack Nicholson to stardom was his turn as frustrated, disaffected musician-turned-oil-rig-worker Bobby Dupea in Bob Rafelson's moody character study Five Easy Pieces. Many viewers remember it for the classic scene at a diner in which Nicholson orders a chicken salad sandwich without the chicken salad, and it established Nicholson as an icon of angst. The supporting cast, especially Karen Black as Bobby's pregnant girlfriend, and Susan Anspach as his brother's high-class fiancée, is strong. Written by Rafelson and Adrien Joyce, Five Easy Pieces was shot like an arthouse movie, on a low budget, but marketed to a mass audience. It was a key breakthrough in tearing down those divisions between commerce and art in American movies, and in highlighting the class and cultural divisions of the time that were eating away at America's cultural cohesion. Nicholson's classic alienated character was long defined by this film and his Oscar nomination for his role in it. Rafelson, however, did not translate his success with Five Easy Pieces to a memorable career.