Easy Rider (1969)
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Flush with cash from a drug sale, bikers Wyatt (aka "Captain America") (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) hide the money in the gas tank of Wyatt's motorcycle, then set off on a motorcycle trip across America to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Along the way, they encounter rednecks, hippies, hitchhikers, whores, Jesus, hard-working ranchers, and get thrown in jail where they meet boozing lawyer George Hanson (Jack Nicholson), who decides to join them on their journey. Edit
Peter Fonda has revealed that four early 50s Harley police bikes were customized for the film by two California bike builders, Cliff Vaughs and Ben Hardy. Since Fonda was an experienced motorcyclist, his bike was more choppered up than the bike ridden by Dennis Hopper. One of the bikes got wrecked during the movie. It and the other three bikes were all stolen by the end of the movie. Their whereabouts are still unknown. Edit
It's hard to be certain, but it you follow the chronology of the movie, i.e., assuming that each day and night are consecutive to both the previous and the next ones, it took them six days. Following is a day by day account of their trip:
Day 1: Wyatt and Billy leave L.A. and cross over the Colorado River into Arizona. That night, they try to get a room at a roadside motel, but the owner flashes a "No Vacancy" sign, so they end up camping out.
Day 2: Wyatt wakes up Billy, and they're on their way. When Wyatt's tire goes flat, they stop at a ranch to fix it and end up staying for dinner. They set out again, and pick up a hitchhiker (Luke Askew) on his way back to his commune. The three of them camp for the night.
Day 3: The next day they arrive at a hippie commune, staying long enough to have a bite to eat of the commune's scarce food supply. After a little skinny dip, they move on. Driving through Las Vegas, New Mexico, they are arrested for "parading without a license." They spend the night in jail where they meet the drunken lawyer, George Hanson.
Day 4: George decides to ride along with them when they hit the road again. That night, the three of them set up a camp together, and Wyatt and Billy introduce George to the pleasures of smoking grass.
Day 5: They pass through Morganza, Louisiana and try to get a bite to eat at a cafe. Unfortunately, the rednecks are brutal to them, so they move on. That night, they set up camp again. During the night, they are attacked and George is murdered.
Day 6: They arrive in New Orleans where they have a nice dinner and pay a visit to Madame Tinkerbell's whorehouse where they are introduced to two hookers, Mary (Toni Basil) and Karen (Karen Black). Edit
After spending two days at the Mardi Gras festival, Wyatt and Billy push on to Florida. They set up camp the first night out. Wyatt seems to be a bit down, but Billy is riding high (in more ways than one). As they sit around the campfire, Billy comments, "We've done it...we're rich, man...you go for the big money, man, and then you're free", Wyatt replies, "You know, Billy, we blew it," and he then goes to sleep. The next day, they're tooling down highway 105, just outside of Krotz Springs, LA, when a pickup truck with two rednecks and a shotgun come driving by. "Let's scare the hell out of them," one of the guys says. They pull up alongside Billy and make a nasty comment to which Billy gives them the finger. "Why don't you get a haircut!" the guy says and he pops off a shot at Billy. Unfortunately, it hits Billy in the gut and he goes flying off his bike, landing at the side of the road. Wyatt doubles back, covers Billy's wounds with his jacket, and goes for help. The rednecks see Wyatt coming and fire a shot at him, too. Wyatt's bike flies into the air and explodes into flames. In the final shot, the bike is lying at the side of the road, on fire. Edit
The meaning of that particular line is probably the most ambiguous and hotly-debated quote from Easy Rider. Wyatt and Billy have made a zickety-zillion dollars on their drug deal, took their freedom ride on the open road, made it to Mardi Gras, and are now pushing on to "retire" in Florida. When Billy comments, "We've done it...we're rich, man...you go for the big money, man, and then you're free", Wyatt replies, "You know, Billy, we blew it." Viewers of the movie have offered their different interpretations of just what "it" Wyatt is referring to...money, freedom, self-discovery, choosing not to stay at the commune, the American dream. All of these explanations (and many more) can be substituted for "it" in that simple, three-word sentence and still make sense in the context of the movie. Edit
Uncertain. Billy was shotgunned in the guts and left lying on the side of the road. When Wyatt's bike went flying through the air, Wyatt was not on it. There was talk for a while about an Easy Rider sequel, so it's possible that they had in mind a way for Wyatt and Billy to survive, e.g., Wyatt was knocked off his bike, suffered only minor bumps and scraps, and got help for Billy in time. As it is, there is no way to tell, so it's up to each viewer to decide for themselves how they want to see it ending. Edit
No, but Easy Rider: The Ride Back (2012) was released in 2013 as a prequel to Easy Rider, focusing on Wyatt's family from the 1940s to the present time, so some answers may be gotten there. However, they are not canon to the original movie. Edit
Wyatt and Billy have finished selling the dope to their L.A. contact: The Pusher performed by Steppenwolf
They set out on their trip to New Orleans: Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf
The pick up the hitchhiker: Wasn't Born to Follow by The Byrds and The Weight by The Band
The Gorilla Theatre is performing at the commune: Let Your Hair Hang Low and She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain When She Comes
Wyatt and Billy go skinny-dipping with the two girls from the commune: Wasn't Born to Follow by The Byrds, repeated
When Wyatt and Billy are traveling with George Hanson: If You Want to Be a Bird by The Holy Modal Rounders, Don't Bogart Me by Fraternity of Man, and If 6 Were 9 by Jimi Hendrix Experience
When Wyatt, Billy, and George enter the cafe in Franklin, LA: Let's Turkey Trot by Little Eva on the jukebox
Just after George is murdered: Kyrie Eleison by The Electric Prunes
When Wyatt, Billy, Mary, and Karen decide to go out and join the Mardi Gras celebration: When the Saints Go Marching In by the street band
When Wyatt and Billy have left New Orleans and are headed for Florida: Flash, Bam, Pow by The Electric Flag and It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding) by Bob Dylan
As the closing credits roll: The Ballad of Easy Rider by Roger McGuinn Edit
Easy Rider was released in 1969 and is sometimes credited with being the film that changed the movie genre. Maybe so, but it wasn't the first to feature misunderstood motorcyclists. Sixteen years prior to Easy Rider, there was The Wild One (1953) (1953), in which two motorcycle gangs terrorize a small town. There also was The Wild Angels (1966) (1966), in which Peter Fonda plays the leader of the Hells Angels, and Hells Angels on Wheels (1967) (1967), in which a poet (Jack Nicholson) joins the Hells Angels. Then Came Bronson (1969) (1969) was a concurrent cultural-dropout-rides-a-Harley-and-searches-for-America film. Just after Easy Rider came The Rebel Rousers (1970) (1970), in which motorcyclists vie for a girl. Also following Easy Rider, there arose a number of movies in which young people take to the road, such as Five Easy Pieces (1970) (1970), in which Jack Nicholson and Karen Black are reunited in a story about a concert pianist who chucks it all and goes in search of his freedom. In Vanishing Point (1971) (1971), a car delivery boy must drive a car from Colorado to California, and in Two-Lane Blacktop (1971) (1971), two men drag race across the US. There's Scarecrow (1973) (1973), in which an ex-con and sailor travel from California to Detroit looking for something better in life, and Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (1974) (1974) in which two thieves are chased by police. More recent road trip movies includeThelma & Louise (1991) (1991), in which two women embark on a road trip to Mexico in order to escape prosecution after one of them commits murder. In Into the Wild (2007) (2007), a man hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Diarios de motocicleta (2004) (The Motorcycle Diaries) (2004) is based on a motorcycle trip taken by Che Guevara when he was looking for his call in life. Finally, if social rebellion and the search for freedom interest you, there's Rebel Without a Cause (1955) (1955), in which a young rebel and his friends come up against the law. There's also movies about Billy Jack, an ex-Green Beret of Native American heritage, who fights against oppression in Billy Jack (1971) (1971) and against a motorcycle gang in The Born Losers (1967) (1967). Edit