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Easy Later

from The Hollywood Reporter

“Tell Me We Haven’t Blown It”: Peter Fonda Reflects on ‘Easy Rider’ and Its Unanswered Question

by Susan King

Photofest / Peter Fonda as Wyatt (aka Captain America) in 1969’s ‘Easy Rider’

Fifty years later, the filmmaker and those involved and close to the groundbreaking biker movie (and soundtrack) look back at the wild ride: “I knew how it was going to end when I started writing it.”

If 1939 was cinema’s golden year, 1969 was its watershed. Though Hollywood was still producing big-budget films (Hello, Dolly!) and features starring such veterans as John Wayne (True Grit), the counterculture was quickly taking root. That year heralded the arrival of such new filmmakers as Paul Mazursky (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice) and three X-rated dramas — John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool and Frank Perry’s Last Summer — which all became critical and commercial successes. Midnight Cowboy even claimed the best picture Oscar at the 42nd Academy Awards over relatively lighter fare like Dolly! and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

But in a year packed with classics, the film that made the biggest impact was a deceptively simple biker flick, Easy Rider. Ahead of the film’s 50th anniversary on July 14, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with those involved and close to the making of the project, including producer-writer-star Peter Fonda, veteran filmmaker Henry Jaglom, actress Toni Basil and singer-songwriter Roger McGuinn as well as Roger Corman, who was originally set to executive produce but was replaced ahead of the shoot. When the film rode full-tilt-boogie into theaters, the entire landscape changed and dozens of movies looked to emulate the spirit of the drama.

The movie, which was made for around $375,000 and grossed $60 million worldwide, stars Fonda and director Dennis Hopper as two biker buddies — Wyatt, aka Captain America (Fonda) and Billy (Hopper) — who travel through the Southwest and South with the money they made from their last cocaine deal. Audiences are still trying to figure out what Wyatt means when he is sitting with Billy at a campfire near the film’s end and tells him, “We blew it.” Fonda didn’t explain then and he won’t explain now. “I never intended to answer that question,” he tells THR by email, adding, “I intended it to be enigmatic and applicable to all kinds of things. When asked today if it’s still relevant, go look out the window and tell me we haven’t blown it.”

[ click to continue reading at THR ]

Posted on July 16, 2019 by Editor

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