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Five Easy Pieces (1970)

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A dropout from upper-class America picks up work along the way on oil rigs when his life isn't spent in a squalid succession of bars, motels, and other points of interest.

Director:

Bob Rafelson

Writers:

Carole Eastman (screenplay) (as Adrien Joyce), Bob Rafelson (story) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 9 wins & 17 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... Robert Eroica Dupea
Karen Black ... Rayette Dipesto
Billy Green Bush ... Elton (as Billy 'Green' Bush)
Fannie Flagg ... Stoney
Sally Struthers ... Betty (as Sally Ann Struthers)
Marlena MacGuire Marlena MacGuire ... Twinky (as Marlena Macguire)
Richard Stahl Richard Stahl ... Recording Engineer
Lois Smith ... Partita Dupea
Helena Kallianiotes ... Palm Apodaca
Toni Basil ... Terry Grouse
Lorna Thayer ... Waitress
Susan Anspach ... Catherine Van Oost
Ralph Waite ... Carl Fidelio Dupea
William Challee ... Nicholas Dupea
John P. Ryan ... Spicer (as John Ryan)
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Storyline

Robert Dupea has given up his promising career as a concert pianist and is now working in oil fields. He lives together with Rayette, who's a waitress in a diner. When Robert hears from his sister that his father isn't well, he drives up to Washington to see him, taking Rayette with him. There he gets confronted with his rich, cultured family that he had left behind. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He Rode The Fast Lane On The Road To Nowhere.

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 February 1971 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Mi vida es mi vida See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$18,099,091, 31 December 1971
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

When Bob and his sister return from drinking coffee on the water front he no longer is holding his brown coffee mug. When the camera angle changes to show them walking up the porch steps the cup is not present. See more »

Quotes

Bobby: [finally talking with his paralyzed father] I don't know if you'd be particularly interested in hearing anything about me. My life, I mean... Most of it doesn't add up to much that I could relate as a way of life that you'd approve of... I'd like to be able to tell you why, but I don't really... I mean, I move around a lot because things tend to get bad when I stay. And I'm looking... for auspicious beginnings, I guess... I'm trying to, you know, imagine your half of this conversation... My ...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #26.34 (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Fuga from Sonata in C major for Violin Solo, BWV 1005
(uncredited)
Written by Johann Sebastian Bach
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A very complex and deep character study...
8 January 1999 | by Don-102See all my reviews

Bob Rafelson's FIVE EASY PIECES is about inner pain and suffering that just so happens to consume people in all walks of life. It is sometimes hard to watch and Nicholson's character "Robert" is a miserable SOB. However, he is also a very compelling character who affects all around him. He is lonely, he is scared, and he does not know what to do with himself.

If you are looking for plot, this is not the picture for you. The only remnants of a plot concern Nicholson's father, a distant memory of his previous prestigious lifestyle as a classical pianist, who has fallen sick. Jack decides to visit his family's estate to pay his last respects. This sets the forum of emotional indifference and misery. He hates his old life, which he left to become a construction worker and has taken up with a flighty waitress played brilliantly by Karen Black. He pretends to enjoy this simple way of living, but he treats Black like the trash he considers her to be and could care less about anyone.

Why should anyone see this film? Because Jack Nicholson is one of our greatest actors and he is able to transcend what was put on paper regarding the main character and project raw power and feelings in his own, unique way. The movie is littered with classic scenes, in particular, the chicken salad sandwich scene, one of the funniest I've ever seen. The one I feel that stands out and symbolizes the essence of the film is where Jack plays Chopin in the piano room while Rafelson's camera does a slow 360 around the room, glancing at pictures of his life before he fled from it. It is a perfect mixture of intensity, music, and sadness.

The last scene, which ends so abruptly, makes perfect sense within this context. It leaves us feeling empty and unfulfilled, exactly how Nicholson's character feels. This is what makes this character piece all the more powerful.


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