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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.


Bob Rafelson


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 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)


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


He Rode The Fast Lane On The Road To Nowhere.




R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

19 February 1971 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Mi vida es mi vida See more »


Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

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

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The movie's conversation "You want me to hold the chicken, huh?" - "I want you to hold it between your knees." between Robert (Jack Nicholson) and the waitress (Lorna Thayer) was voted as the #98 of "The 100 Greatest Movie Lines" by Premiere in 2007. See more »


Early in the movie, when in the bedroom with Rayette, Bobby's arm position is inconsistent. See more »


Bobby: What are you doing screwing around with all this crap?
Catherine: I do not find your language very charming.
Bobby: It isn't. It's direct.
Catherine: I'd like you to leave so that I can take a bath. Is that direct?
See more »


Featured in Hollywood Mavericks (1990) See more »


Written by Bobby Braddock (as B. Braddock) & Curly Putman (as C. Putnam)
Performed by Tammy Wynette
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Not even Nicholson can save this
26 January 2007 | by hall895See all my reviews

Those who praise Five Easy Pieces call it a great character study. Maybe it is, but that doesn't make it a great movie. The character of Robert Dupea may have made for a nice subject for an article in a psychology journal. But as the lead character in a film he leaves a lot to be desired. Not even the fact that Dupea is played by the great Jack Nicholson can mask the truth that the movie which tells his story is downright dull. Yeah, there's a pretty interesting story in here somewhere but the way that story unfolds on the screen leaves a lot to be desired.

The biggest problem with this movie is quite simply that nothing happens. We are just forced to sit and watch as Robert Dupea tries to "find himself". While Dupea's finding himself you'll probably be stifling yawns. The fact that the lead character we're following is an irredeemable louse doesn't help matters either. Robert Dupea treats all those around him, most notably his ever-loyal girlfriend, like absolute garbage. He's completely full of himself, which is rather odd for someone working a menial job on an oil rig. Where does this guy get off being so high and mighty? Who the heck is he to think he's so much better than those around him? About halfway through the film we see where that attitude comes from as Dupea goes on a journey back to his childhood home to reconnect with the person he truly is or at least used to be. This is where all that "great character study" malarkey kicks in. Yes, it turns out Robert Dupea isn't exactly what he initially seems to be. Yes, he's a very complex character. But he's still at heart an awful human being. And this is still a boring movie.

Jack Nicholson is certainly one of our finest actors and he does the best he can here but this film just isn't salvageable. The character Nicholson plays is impossible to root for. You end up sympathizing with everyone in the movie but him, a problem since the movie is really about him alone. For the first half of the movie absolutely nothing happens as the filmmakers go out of their way to establish what a mean-spirited jerk Dupea is. Actually that was established in the first five minutes but they belabor the point to tedious effect. Then the great journey home begins and the movie for a few minutes veers off into Bizarro World when Dupea picks up a pair of hippie, lesbian hitchhikers. One of these hitchhikers, named Palm Apodaca which tells you about all you need to know, launches into one of the most bizarre, comical rants in film history. Only she's not trying to be funny, she's deadly serious. If nothing else, at least you the viewer can laugh at the sheer stupidity of it all, which is about all the enjoyment you'll get out of this film. Soon enough Palm and friend are gone and we're back to focusing on Robert Dupea. Who's still a selfish, obnoxious, jerk stuck in an utterly boring movie. A great character study? You can judge that for yourself. A great movie? Absolutely not.

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