Five Easy Pieces
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|Five Easy Pieces|
original movie poster
|Directed by||Bob Rafelson|
|Produced by||Bob Rafelson
|Written by||Bob Rafelson
|Editing by||Christopher Holmes
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||September 12, 1970|
|Running time||96 minutes|
Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 American drama film written by Carole Eastman (as Adrien Joyce) and Bob Rafelson, and directed by Rafelson. The film stars Jack Nicholson, with Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Ralph Waite, and Sally Struthers in supporting roles.
The film tells the story of a surly oil rig worker, Bobby Dupea, whose blue-collar existence belies his privileged youth as a child prodigy. When word reaches Bobby that his father is dying, he goes home to see him, reluctantly bringing along his pregnant girlfriend, Rayette (Black), a dimwitted waitress. The film was selected to be preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2000.
Classical pianist Robert Dupea (Nicholson), 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 (Bush), or with his waitress girlfriend, Rayette (Black). When he learns that she is pregnant, and his friend Elton gets arrested for having robbed a gas station a year earlier, he quits his job and leaves for Los Angeles where his sister, Partita (Smith), 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 his father and reluctantly agrees to take her along. On the way, they pick up two lesbians headed for Alaska, one of whom is obsessed about "filth." The four of them are thrown out of a restaurant when he gets into an argument with a waitress who refuses to accommodate his special order. Eventually, Robert reaches his destination. Embarrassed by Rayette's lack of polish, he registers her in a motel and goes to his family home. At dinner that night, he meets Catherine Van Oost (Anspach), a young pianist engaged to his brother, Carl (Waite), a violinist.
Despite 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 gives a fiery defense of her. Storming from the room in search of Catherine, he discovers his father's male nurse giving the half-naked Partita a massage. Even more angered, Robert picks a senseless fight with him and is quickly knocked to the floor. He tries to convince Catherine to go away with him, but she tells him she cannot do it because he does not love himself or anything at all and thus should not expect love in return. After trying to talk to his unresponsive father, Robert leaves with Rayette, who makes a playful sexual advance to him which he angrily pushes off. At a gas station, when Rayette goes in for some coffee, he abandons her, hitching a ride on a truck to Alaska.
- Jack Nicholson as Robert Eroica Dupea
- Karen Black as Rayette Dipesto
- Susan Anspach as Catherine Van Oost
- Lois Smith as Partita Dupea
- Ralph Waite as Carl Fidelio Dupea
- Billy 'Green' Bush as Elton
- Irene Dailey as Samia Glavia
- Toni Basil as Terry Grouse
- Helena Kallianiotes as Palm Apodaca
- William Challee as Nicholas Dupea
- John Ryan as Spicer
- Fannie Flagg as Stoney
- Marlena MacGuire as Twinky
- Sally Ann Struthers as Shirley "Betty"
- Lorna Thayer as Waitress
- Richard Stahl as Recording Engineer
Recital music 
The five classical piano pieces played in the film and referenced in the title are:
- Frédéric Chopin: Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49, played by Bobby on the back of a moving truck.
- Johann Sebastian Bach: Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, played by Bobby's sister, Partita, in a recording studio.
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Concerto No. 9 in E-flat major, K. 271, played by Bobby's brother, Carl, and Catherine upon Bobby's arrival at the house.
- Chopin: Prelude in E minor, Op. 28, No. 4, played by Bobby for Catherine.
- Mozart: Fantasy in D minor, K. 397.
||This section may contain original research. (April 2013)|
The film opened to positive reviews and huge business at the box office and holds an 86% "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 35 reviews. It immediately became the movie that Bob Rafelson would be known for. He worked before on counterculture comedy as in the Monkees TV show and their famous cult film Head. Now he made a movie which considered the other side of youth, in this case, those that left the good life behind and were not content. For this movie, he won praise. It would also be remembered as the movie that got Jack Nicholson noticed in Hollywood. He was quickly approached to play modern day rebels with or without a conscience. The one scene in this film that Nicholson was liked for was the part where he fights with a waitress over an omelet, toast, and a chicken salad sandwich, demanding that she hold the chicken 'between her knees.' He later worked with Rafelson on four more movies over the next twenty six years.
According to Variety, the film earned $1.2 million in North American rentals in 1970.
The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Karen Black), Best Picture, and Best Original Screenplay. Nicholson lost to George C. Scott, but was nominated several times before getting the Award for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
|43rd Academy Awards||Best Picture||Bob Rafelson and Richard Wechsler||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Jack Nicholson||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Karen Black||Nominated|
|Best Original Screenplay||Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson||Nominated|
|28th Golden Globe Awards||Best Motion Picture - Drama||Bob Rafelson and Richard Wechsler||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Jack Nicholson||Nominated|
|Best Director||Bob Rafelson||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress||Karen Black||Won (Tied with Maureen Stapleton for Airport)|
|Best Screenplay||Carole Eastman and Bob Rafelson||Nominated|
Home media 
The film was released on DVD by The Criterion Collection in November 2010 as part of the box set, America Lost and Found: The BBS Story. It includes audio commentary featuring director Bob Rafelson and interior designer Toby Rafelson, Soul Searching in “Five Easy Pieces,” a 2009 video piece with Rafelson, BBStory, a 2009 documentary about the BBS era, with Rafelson, actors Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, and Ellen Burstyn, and directors Peter Bogdanovich and Henry Jaglom, among others, and audio excerpts from a 1976 AFI interview with Rafelson.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Five Easy Pieces|
- Five Easy Pieces at the Internet Movie Database
- Five Easy Pieces at AllRovi
- Five Easy Pieces at Box Office Mojo
- Five Easy Pieces at Rotten Tomatoes
- Roger Ebert on Five Easy Pieces
- Bright Lights Film Journal essay
- Time magazine interview with screenwriter Carol Eastman
- Liner notes from the original Criterion Laserdisc
- "Five Easy Pieces turns 40" – Los Angeles Times
- Criterion Collection Essay by Kent Jones
- Criterion Collection Essay by Michael Dare
- Criterion Collection Essay by J. Hoberman