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"Five Easy Pieces" (1970), Directed, Co-Produced, and Co-Written by Bob Rafelson - Jack Nicholson's First Starring Role


DonRocks
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I'd heard about "Five Easy Pieces" throughout my entire adult life (I'd even read "Six Easy Pieces" by Richard Feynman (which really weren't all that easy)), but I really had no idea what the film was about until I saw it over the past couple of days. Instead of writing a review, let me just give a really well-played example of each of the "Five Easy Pieces" (which really aren't all that easy):

Chopin Fantasie in F-Minor Op 49, played by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli:

Bach Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue in D-Minor, played by Wilhelm Kempff:

Mozart Piano Concerto No 9 in E-Flat Major K271, played by Maria João Pires:

Chopin Prelude in E-Minor Op 28 No 4, played by Sviatislov Richter:

Mozart Fantasy in D-Minor K397, played by Emil Gilels:

I do, however, want to tie this in with restaurants. The girl sitting across from Jack Nicholson is none other than Toni ("Hey Mickey!") Basil:

If you've watched "Five Easy Pieces," and *only* if you've watched "Five Easy Pieces," then you owe it to yourself to read this review by Noel Murray. This is the rare review that teaches, enlightens, and actually makes the movie better than it "was" before you read the review. Listen up: If you *haven't* seen the movie, then you're doing a grave disservice to three things if you click on that link before watching: 1) the reviewer, 2) the movie, and most importantly, 3) yourself. This is the type of review you read, and then realize, "Oh, this person really *does* know a hell of a lot more than I do," and you'll emerge from it fully awakened.

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She was in Easy Rider too.

Since you know that, you probably know this, but I'll say it for those who don't:

Hollywood changed in 1967, and it changed again around 1970 - that was the year that quasi-indie movies started coming out, starting with Easy Rider, and continuing with Five Easy Pieces, and that movie with Cybill Shepherd on the diving board, what was it again? Oh yeah, The Last Picture Show. Bob Rafelson (the director of Five Easy Pieces) co-founded BBS Productions, which helped begin the New Hollywood movement, and it's not a coincidence that these movies had overlaps in the casting.

It is, however, somewhat unfortunate that this film launched the career of Sally Struthers (I hate to say that, but I find her extremely grating in All In The Family, and you're essentially trapped inside the house with her - is it wrong of me to say she got that part because she had a great body, with big breasts, and she screwed Jack Nicholson in this movie? (*)) Call me crazy, but I like the older, heavier Sally Struthers (as a human being) a *lot* more than I did when she was Gloria. Go ahead, Al Dente: Call me crazy.

I saw The Last Picture Show about twenty years ago, and pretty much dismissed it as a boring, "slice-of-life" kind-of thing, and I saw the same traits in Five Easy Pieces, but I saw it through wiser eyes - I plan on revisiting The Last Picture Show sometime in the future, hoping to get a bit more out of it. This is not my favorite genre of film - this might sound unsophisticated, but if I want reality, I can go sit in a mall and people-watch; I need a *little bit* more than "real people" in my films, even though those real people have been subtly, artistically enhanced. I'll take this over a mindless blockbuster any day of the week (well, most days), but there's a happy medium somewhere that is very difficult for me to find.

(*) Al Dente, on his way to the video store.

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It is, however, somewhat unfortunate that this film launched the career of Sally Struthers (I hate to say that, but I find her extremely grating in All In The Family, and you're essentially trapped inside the house with her - is it wrong of me to say she got that part because she had a great body, with big breasts, and she screwed Jack Nicholson in this movie? (*)) Call me crazy, but I like the older, heavier Sally Struthers (as a human being) a *lot* more than I did when she was Gloria. Go ahead, Al Dente: Call me crazy.

(*) Al Dente, on his way to the video store.

You're not crazy. She was grating as Gloria.

There's a video store somewhere? Do they have VHS?

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