12 September 1970: Five Easy Pieces

Anna and Ben sit down to investigate the rebellious origins of BBS Productions’ film Five Easy Pieces. While not actually a comedy, they examine it as a forerunner of Nicholson’s manic performances and an extension of Rafelson’s work with The Monkees, and then delve into trivia surrounding the classical music featured in the soundtrack.

Sources and References:

Rafelson’s 1968 film Head was released on DVD by Rhino records, but is out of print, and by Criterion, but only as part of the America: Lost and Found boxed set. So Ben watched a bootleg of the film on YouTube to better approximate his collegiate VHS experience of falling asleep during the film. He’s sorry for the piracy. Please release it as a standalone disc, Criterion.

In addition to reading the first four chapters of Easy Riders, Raging Bulls by Peter Biskind, other context on Bob Rafelson and BBS Productions came from:
The Criterion Collection
The Dissolve
Esquire Magazine
The You Must Remember This podcast

The interview with Rafelson in the October 24, 1970 issue of The New Yorker is available online to subscribers.

The main articles that Ben consulted about Carole Eastman were her obituary in the LA Times and a thorough piece in Film Comment examining her relative invisibility in Hollywood. And Lisa Janssen did some digging into Eastman’s modeling career at Please Kill Me.

Two versions of the script were readily available online: an “undated, unspecified draft” at DailyScript which contains the opening montage of the Dupea family performances and the death of Bobby’s mother, and what is listed as the October 20, 1969 final draft shooting script embedded in an article with some lovely behind-the-scenes photographs at Cinephilia & Beyond.

The review Anna found by Scott Nye is located on the Battleship Pretension website. Roger Ebert’s initial contemporaneous review of Five Easy Pieces where he so casually refers to Sally Struthers’ character of Betty as a “slut” is on the Roger Ebert website.

Much of the trivia about and identification of the classical performances in Five Easy Pieces came from it’s Wikipedia page and the subsequent links to articles about the Mozart and Beethoven pieces. The list of possibly incomplete appearances of Beethoven’s 3rd symphony in film was provided by the Naxos website.

The background music for the quiz is neither Beethoven’s Eroica nor Einstein’s “Mozart’s Eroica“, but the Rondo from Mozart’s piano concerto number 20.

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