Five Easy Pieces

Director Bob Rafelson has put together an absorbing, if nerve-wracking, film.

Jack Nicholson Karen Black Lois Smith Susan Anspach Helena Kallianiotes Sally Struthers

Director Bob Rafelson has put together an absorbing, if nerve-wracking, film.

Despite its solid American roots, this pic is reminiscent of nothing so much as the French films of the 1940s and 1950s.

Jack Nicholson is first seen on the job as a Southern California oilrigger sporting a ‘cracker’ accent and consorting with three members of the same breed especially his dumb, sexy girlfriend Rayette (Karen Black).

It’s clear from the beginning that he doesn’t think he belongs in this environment. But only later, when he quits his job and goes back home to the State of Washington does it become clear that his hard hat and his accent were a masquerade.

The film’s nervewracking quality is consistent with its content. Nicholson’s performance is a remarkably varied and daring exploration of a complex character, equally convincing in its manic and sober aspects.

1970: Nominations: Best Picture, Actor (Jack Nicholson), Supp. Actress (Karen Black), Story & Screenplay

Popular on Variety

Five Easy Pieces

Production: Columbia/BBS. Director Bob Rafelson; Producer Bob Rafelson, Richard Wechsler; Screenplay Adrien Joyce [= Carolyn Eastman]; Camera Laszlo Kovacs; Editor Christopher Holmes, Gerald Sheppard; Art Director Toby Rafelson

Crew: (Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1970. Running time: 96 MIN.

With: Jack Nicholson Karen Black Lois Smith Susan Anspach Helena Kallianiotes Sally Struthers

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content