Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Taglines: He rode the fast lane on the road to nowhere.

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.

Five Easy Pieces is a 1970 American drama film written by Carole Eastman (as Adrien Joyce) and Bob Rafelson, and directed by Rafelson. The film stars Jack Nicholson, with Karen Black, Susan Anspach, Ralph Waite, and Sally Struthers in supporting roles.

The film tells the story of a surly oil rig worker, Bobby Dupea, whose seemingly rootless, blue-collar existence belies his privileged youth as a piano prodigy. When Bobby learns that his father is dying, he goes home to see him, bringing along his girlfriend, Rayette (Black), a waitress. Nicholson and Black were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances. The film was selected to be preserved by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry in 2000.

Five Easy Pieces

Bobby Dupea (Jack Nicholson) works in a California oil field (shot in and around the city of Taft in the San Joaquin Valley) with his friend Elton (Billy “Green” Bush), who has a wife and baby son. Most of Bobby’s time is spent with his waitress girlfriend, Rayette (Karen Black), who has dreams of singing country music, or in the company of Elton, with whom he bowls, gets drunk, and has sex with other women. Bobby has evidently not told Elton that he is a former classical pianist who comes from an eccentric family of musicians.

When Rayette is said to have become pregnant and Elton is arrested for having robbed a gas station a year earlier, Bobby quits his job and leaves for Los Angeles where his sister, Partita (Lois Smith), also a pianist, is making a recording. Partita informs him that their father, from whom Bobby is estranged, has suffered two strokes. She urges Bobby to return to the family home in Washington state, to visit their father.

As Rayette has threatened to kill herself if Bobby leaves her, he reluctantly asks her along. Driving north, they pick up two women headed for Alaska, one of whom is obsessed about “filth”. The four of them are thrown out of a restaurant when Bobby gets into an argument with a waitress who refuses to accommodate his special order. Reaching his destination, Bobby, embarrassed by Rayette’s lack of polish, registers her in a motel before proceeding to his family home on an island in Puget Sound.

He finds Partita giving their father a haircut, but the old man seems completely oblivious to him. At dinner, Bobby meets Catherine Van Oost (Susan Anspach), a young pianist engaged to his brother, Carl (Ralph Waite), a violinist. Despite personality differences, Catherine and Robert, the name she calls Bobby, become attracted and make love in her room.

Five Easy Pieces Movie Poster (1970)

Five Easy Pieces (1970)

Directed by: Bob Rafelson
Bkannihg; Jack Nicholson, Karen Black, Billy Green Bush, Fannie Flagg, Sally Struthers, Marlena MacGuire, Helena Kallianiotes
Screenplay by: Carole Eastman
Cinematography by: László Kovács
Film Editing by: Christopher Holmes, Gerald Shepard
Distributed by: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: September 12, 1970