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Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood (2003)

TV-14 | | Documentary | 9 March 2003 (USA)
1:44 | Trailer

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A look at 1970s Hollywood when it was known as New Hollywood, and the director was the star of the movie.


Kenneth Bowser


Peter Biskind (book), Kenneth Bowser



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Scorsese ... Himself
Dennis Hopper ... Himself
Peter Bogdanovich ... Himself
Sam Peckinpah ... Himself (archive footage)
Warren Beatty ... Himself
Robert Altman ... Himself
Arthur Penn ... Himself
Jack Nicholson ... Himself
Francis Ford Coppola ... Himself
Steven Spielberg ... Himself
George Lucas ... Himself
Tony Bill ... Himself
Peter Bart ... Himself
Paul Schrader ... Himself
Sharon Tate ... (archive footage)


Based upon Peter Biskind's book of the same name, this BBC-produced documentary traces the rise of a generation of Hollywood filmmakers who briefly changed the face of movies with a more personal approach that pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable on-screen. Influential directors who appear include Arthur Penyn ("Bonnie and Clyde"), Dennis Hopper ("Easy Rider"), Francis Ford Coppola ("The Godfather"), John Schlesinger ("Midnight Cowboy"), Bob Rafelson ("Five Easy Pieces") Martin Scorsese ("Taxi Driver"), Peter Bogdanovich ("The Last Picture Show"), and Jonathan Demme ("Crazy Mama"). Narrated by William H. Macy, the documentary features vintage clips of Coppola, Scorsese, Beatty, George Lucas, Sam Peckinpah, Roman Polanski, Robert Altman, and Pauline Kael. It also includes original interview material with Penn; Roger Corman; Bogdanovich; Hopper; David Picker; writer/directors John Milius and Paul Schrader; actresses Karen Black, Cybill Shepherd, Margot Kidder, and Jennifer Salt;... Written by alfiehitchie

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How the Sex Drugs and Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood




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Release Date:

9 March 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


Many of the subjects profiled in author Peter Biskind's book, including directors Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Altman, and 'William Friedkin', declined interviews for the documentary. See more »


References Mickey One (1965) See more »

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User Reviews

Sex, Drugs, Movies
25 November 2006 | by Michael_ElliottSee all my reviews

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls (2003)

**** (out of 4)

I've often been criticized for overly bashing movies made the past twenty years but perhaps deep down I'm just wishing for a return to the 1970's, which was following a decade for a horrid studio films that were being made for millions, yet couldn't find an audience. The studios were one by one pretty much shutting down yet on the outside there was an up and coming ground that was ready to rebuild Hollywood with their sex, drugs and rock and roll.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls starts off showing the decline of the 1960's yet quickly flashes to the one success story that is B-Movie legend Roger Corman who turned out low budget films that brought back millions by going the drive-in route and causing the teens to line up at the doors. While Corman wasn't the greatest director, he certainly knew how to spot talent and by this he helped discover talents such as Martin Scorsese, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper, Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Borgdanovich and many others.

The defined genre in Hollywood started with Easy Rider, which was a low budget film that was made my stoned hippies yet it hit a nerve with people and became a huge hit. Although there had been many biker films produced before this one, this film had sex and drugs, which was speaking to a new generation and soon these young talents were going to Hollywood wanting to make their own films. Hollywood had burned itself for over a decade so they slowly started to listen to these teens who in return were making modern classics. Films such as Midnight Cowboy, Targets, Chinatown, Five Easy Pieces and Mean Streets are just a few titles that this crowd brought in.

However, this new crowd also brought a lot of drugs to Hollywood and their ultra-egos slowly started to destroy their lives. The documentary talks about the wild parties, the sex and how this had an impact on the director's careers. Once considered something great they were slowly dying on their own success. Towards the end of the documentary the film flashes back to Corman who pretty much saw the end of this period when Jaws was released. In Corman's own words, the studios finally realized how he was making so much money. Corman was simply making B movies that would attract all sorts of teens. The studios then started to deliver the summer blockbuster with films like Jaws and Star Wars, which were nothing more than B movies with a budget. In 1980, Scorsese fought back with Raging Bull, which was the last "director's" film to come out of Hollywood.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is a candid, revealing and downright fascinating look at the greatest era in Hollywood where the studios were the small guys and the small guys, the directors, were running things and turning some very small movies into films that are now looked at as classics. The documentary does a brilliant job at showing what type of crowd these guys were with interesting interviews with the likes of Peter Bark, Peter Bogdanovich, Ellen Burstyn, Richard Dreyfuss, Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper, Cybil Shepherd, Laszlo Kovacs and many more. These people tell stories from behind the scenes of the production of these movies as well as stories of all the sex and drugs going across the town.

Considering the horrid movies that are being made today, one can only wish this period of Hollywood would return. Watching the film it makes it seem so clear at what it took to make these classics. It wasn't a budget or a star but a director who had the courage to be daring and not worry about pleasing the audience. Instead of playing to the crowd these director's played the crowd. There's some wonderful home movie footage of the Easy Rider hippies taking over Cannes plus wonderful stories about Alfred Hitchcock's AFI Lifetime Achievement Award where most of the young crowd was in the bathroom snorting coke while the legendary director was speaking.

Easy Riders, Raging Bull at most is very entertaining but I'm sure many new viewers will also find this to be an incredibly learning experience. Being only 23 years old, I know many my age who simply don't "get" older films yet I'm sure after watching this they would see how much daring films used to be before the likes of Spielberg and Lucas turned them into a cash cow. The film talks very openly about the good old days and they also talk candidly about why they ended. Those interviewed give a wonderful vision of those days and director Kenneth Bowser has a terrific time telling these stories. The worst thing about the movie is that it just runs two hours because this is the type of entertainment that could have gone on for fifty-hours and not once become boring. Anyone interested in the 1970's filmmaking or want to learn about it should certainly check this out.

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