Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Easy Rider (1969)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Easy Rider (1969)

In actor/director Dennis Hopper's debut film and independent classic road film, it was accompanied by a pulsating soundtrack of 60s acid-rock 'n' roll reinforcing or commenting on the film's themes; the generation-defining, youth-oriented, counter-cultural film was a late 1960s tale of a search for freedom (or the illusion of freedom) in a conformist and corrupt America, in the midst of paranoia, bigotry and violence; the story contained sex, drugs, casual violence, and served as a sacrificial tale (with a shocking, unhappy ending):

  • in the opening of the story, two countercultural hippies Billy (Dennis Hopper) and Wyatt/Captain America (Peter Fonda) (a reference to Wyatt Earp and Billy the Kid) successfully scored a cocaine deal in Mexico; Wyatt wore a black leather outfit adorned with an American flag while Billy wore a bush hat and buckskin clothing; they rode high-handled motorcycle choppers to Los Angeles to sell the drugs to their Rolls-Royce driving "Connection" (Phil Spector); the drug deal was finalized to the tune of Steppenwolf's "The Pusher" as the rolled-up cash was then concealed in a plastic tube in Wyatt's tear-drop shaped gas tank

Wyatt/Captain America (Peter Fonda)

Billy (Dennis Hopper)
  • as they took to the open road on their motorcycles, crossed the Colorado River and passed through unspoiled buttes and sand-colored deserts, the credits began to scroll, accompanied by the sound of the popular song by Steppenwolf: "Born To Be Wild"; they began a cross-country eastward trek from Los Angeles to New Orleans to attend Mardi Gras; due to discrimination from motel owners, they were forced to camp out each night in the outdoors
  • during a brief stop for a meal with a horse rancher (Warren Finnerty), Captain America was very complimentary about his way of life: ("It's not every man that can live off the land, you know. You do your own thing in your own time. You should be proud"); soon, they were on their way again through a wooded, mountainous area, while The Byrds' "Wasn't Born to Follow" played on the soundtrack

Stranger on Highway (Luke Askew)

Prayer at Commune's Mealtime With 360 Degree Scar

Skinny-Dipping at Local Hot Springs
  • they picked up an evasive hitchhiker, credited as Stranger on Highway (Luke Askew) and took him to a New Mexico commune, where they stayed for a day; the entire commune was entertained by a traveling, singing and acting mime troupe (Gorilla Theatre); at mealtime, there was a 360 degree scan view of the entire group holding hands and saying a blessing for a meal and praying for a good crop harvest
  • as the two bikers departed, they were joined by some "free love" females Sarah (Sabrina Scharf) and Lisa (Luana Anders) for skinny-dipping at a local hot springs; briefly back at the commune, the hitchhiker offered them a tab of LSD: ("When you get to the right place, with the right people, quarter this. You know, this could be the right place. The time's running out")
  • the riders was arrested for joining in a parade without a permit on Main Street and jailed in the small town of Las Vegas, NM, where they met up with drunken ACLU civil rights lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson) in jail; they were released and outside while looking at their "super-machines," George toasted the day with a bottle of Jim Beam, accompanied by his elbow flapping on his side like a chicken: "Here's to the first of the day, fellas. To ol' D. H. Lawrence. Nik-nik-nik-f-f-f-Indians!"
  • George was invited to join them on their two-to-three day trek to New Orleans; he claimed he had always wanted to visit a famous whorehouse there printed on a business card: "The governor of Louisiana gave me this. Madame Tinkertoy's House of Blue Lights, corner of Bourbon and Toulouse, New Orleans, Louisiana. Now, this is supposed to be the finest whorehouse in the south. These ain't no pork chops! These are U.S. PRIME!"
With ACLU Lawyer George Hanson
  • Captain America questioned George: "You got a helmet?" - and George responded: "Oh, oh, I've got a helmet. I got a beauty!" - next was the priceless image of George grinning and wearing a football helmet as he rode on the back of Captain America's high-handled motorcycle (to the tune of "If You Want to Be A Bird"), sat up, and spread his arms as wings
George's First Sampling of Marijuana
George's Crackpot Theory About Alien Venutians
  • at an outdoor campfire as they bedded down for the night, George reluctantly sampled his first taste of marijuana and asked: "You - you mean marijuana. Lord have mercy, is that what that is? Well, let me see that," and then displayed paranoia when he presented his lengthy, crackpot, 'stoned' theories about extra-terrestrial UFOs and alien Venutians on Earth and freedom: ("They've been coming here ever since 1946 - when the scientists first started bouncin' radar beams off of the moon. And they have been livin' and workin' among us in vast quantities ever since. The government knows all about 'em...Well, they are people, just like us - from within our own solar system. Except that their society is more highly evolved. I mean, they don't have no wars, they got no monetary system, they don't have any leaders, because, I mean, each man is a leader. I mean, each man - because of their technology, they are able to feed, clothe, house, and transport themselves equally - and with no effort...Why don't they reveal themselves to us is because if they did, it would cause a general panic. Now, I mean, we still have leaders upon whom we rely for the release of this information. These leaders have decided to repress this information because of the tremendous shock that it would cause to our antiquated systems. Now, the result of this has been that the Venutians have contacted people in all walks of life - all walks of life. [laughs] Yes. It-it-it would be a devastatin' blow to our antiquated systems - so now the Venutians are meeting with people in all walks of life - in an advisory capacity. For once, man will have a god-like control over his own destiny. He will have a chance to transcend and to evolve with some equality for all")
  • at a local cafe/diner in rural Louisiana, the shunned hippie group, immediately considered as troublemakers, witnessed "country witticisms" from good ol' boys, including both racist and homophobic slurs
  • during George's last campfire scene outside of town, he spoke about the film's prophetic theme - their threat to the Establishment and to Americans who were hypocritical about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ("You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can't understand what's gone wrong with it...They're scared of what you represent to 'em...What you represent to them is freedom")
  • after they settled down in their sleeping bags, unidentified men [presumably the men from the cafe] ambushed and attacked them and beat them with baseball bats in the dark; Billy and Wyatt were both bloodied and bruised, but Billy was able to scare them off with a switchblade; however, George had been clubbed to death in the head
  • once they arrived in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, they had sex in a New Orleans bordello recommended by George with a group of four hookers, and a psychedelic LSD trip in a nearby graveyard with two other prostitutes: Karen (Karen Black) and Mary (Toni Basil); they frolicked throughout the crypts, but ultimately they shared a sour, bad trip together
  • during their final campfire scene as they again set off eastward toward Florida, although Billy was ecstatic about their trip: "Hey, man! We've done it! We've done it! We're rich, Wyatt. Yeah, man. Yeah. Say, we did it, man. We did it! We did it. We're rich, man! We're retirin' in Florida now, mister," Wyatt disagreed: "You know Billy, we blew it"
The Deaths of Billy and Wyatt
  • the ending of the film was remarkably and unexpectedly bleak, brutal, cynical and fatalistic; Middle America's hatred for the long-haired cyclists was shown in the film's famous ending; on one of the last stretches of roadside where American industry had not yet sprawled, two armed Southern rednecks (David C. Billodeau and Johnny David) in a small pickup truck thought they'd have some fun with the two hippie bikers (Arnold: "We'll scare the hell out of 'em"); when he pointed a shotgun at Billy, and remarked: "Do ya want me to blow your brains out?", the long-hair obscenely and rebelliously gestured with his 'finger'; Arnold then taunted: "Why don't you get a haircut?" and a sudden shot-gun blasted Billy in the stomach and he was mortally wounded; his bike rolled and skidded down the road
  • Captain America-Wyatt stopped and turned back toward Billy to help his dying friend, but when he saw how injured Billy was on the side of the road, he then pursued the truck - which had stopped and reversed itself further down the road and was driving toward him - gunfire again blasted through the window and suddenly, Wyatt's American flag-decorated bike exploded in flames (metaphorically?) (after a brief flash of red) when his gas tank was shot, but his body didn't appear in the wreckage of the bike that went sailing through the air
  • the film ended with a pull-back shot of the camera rising high into the sky to view the flaming bike wreckage

Drug "Connection" (Phil Spector)

The Start of the Their Eastward Journey to Mardi Gras ("Born to be Wild")

First of Many Campfire Scenes

Horse Rancher (Warren Finnerty)

Arrested in Small Town For Participating in a Parade

Jailed with ACLU Lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson)

Toasting Jail Release with a Bottle of Jim Beam: "Nik-nik-nik-f-f-f"

George's Last Campfire Discussion About Freedom

Billy with Prostitute Karen (Karen Black)

Foursome Taking LSD Before Entering New Orleans Cemetery

Wyatt Hallucinating on LSD in Graveyard

Wyatt: "You know Billy, we blew it"

The Last Two Helicopter Images of Bike Wreckage


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