Two young "hippie" bikers, Wyatt and Billy sell some dope in Southern California, stash their money away in their gas-tank and set off for a trip across America, on their own personal odyssey looking for a way to lead their lives. On the journey they encounter bigotry and hatred from small-town communities who despise and fear their non-conformism. However Wyatt and Billy also discover people attempting 'alternative lifestyles' who are resisting this narrow-mindedness, there is always a question mark over the future survival of these drop-out groups. The gentle hippie community who thank God for 'a place to stand' are living their own unreal dream. The rancher they encounter and his Mexican wife are hard-pushed to make ends meet. Even LSD turns sour when the trip is a bad one. Death comes to seem the only freedom. When they arrive at a diner in a small town, they are insulted by the local rednecks as weirdo degenerates. They are arrested on some minor pretext by the local sheriff and ... Written by
The film was mostly shot without a screenplay, with ad-libbed lines, and production started with only the outline and the names of the protagonists. See more »
In the jail scene where they first meet George, you can see the shadow of the boom mic on the wall as George and Billy walk across the jail cell after Billy is given a cigarette by the guard. See more »
You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it.
Man, everybody got chicken, that's what happened. Hey, we can't even get into like, a second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel, you dig? They think we're gonna cut their throat or somethin'. They're scared, man.
They're not scared of you. They're scared of what you represent to 'em.
Hey, man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody who needs a haircut.
Oh, no. What you represent to them is ...
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Over time, this rough diamond of a film has become a real gem in my collection. When I first saw it at the theater, I remember liking the anti-establishment attitude and the rock music soundtrack. Later, on T.V., I remember thinking what a great actor Jack Nicholson was...and how terribly low-budget the rest of the film appeared.
And now, over 30 years later....it's one of my favorite movies of all time. Peter Fonda tries to be Everyman....but he's really the most insecure individual of the group. His cathartic trip at the cemetary in New Orleans is embarrassingly honest to watch. His search is not for individual freedom...his search is for a family. And yet, he is always the outsider, the observer.
Dennis Hopper is the sidekick, the fool. And like a fool, he cannot hide his thoughts behind a socially acceptable demeanor. He constantly says exactly what he thinks. He has little patience for flower children, pretentious intellectuals, coy women, law officers, drunks in jail, or rednecks passing him on the road. Like a fool, he is doomed. Jack Nicholson is the core of the film. He does not appear until halfway through the bikers' odyssey, but the trip will not make sense until his face rises up from the jailhouse cot to peer bleary-eyed at his surroundings. He is the innocent man of this group....he is the AMERICAN. This movie is just another road picture, the way ON THE ROAD by Kerouac was just another travel book. This little counterculture movie is an American Classic.
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